I usually use Highlight Reals to highlight the more mundane things in life as a reminder to stay grounded. Today’s Highlight Real feels a little bigger.
We’ve been making a lot of life changes recently.
Not big life changes like moving or having a baby, no thank you very much. But little big things – the kind that involve a lot of aching when you wake up the next morning, or saying Wow, did we really do that?? Things like turning the garage into a bakery, installing a wood stove, or buying a covered wagon.
The garage bakery is for Alan. After a few pandemic years of
turning our kitchen into a hot mess selling sourdough baked two loaves at a time in a cast iron dutch oven, he finally decided to invest in a proper space and a professional oven. He’s not baking hundreds of loaves (yet), but he’s baking dozens, and plants only get bigger when the roots have space to grow.
The wood stove is for my studio. After years of using a pellet stove to barely heat the space, it was time for an upgrade. What was supposed to be a relatively simple exchange from one stove to another turned into a Wouldn’t it look nicer over there? Anytime the answer is “just cut a hole in the roof”, it’s officially a big project.
The covered wagon was bought on a whim, an impulse buy if we’ve ever had one. We were driving down the road one day and there it was, sitting in someone’s front yard with a handwritten for sale sign on it.
Wow, I exclaimed out loud; How cool is THAT?! Alan agreed, and kept driving.
He finally spoke. Do you want me to turn around?
Just to look, you know. It’s not every day you get to see one of these in person. It’s not like we’re going to buy it.
We pulled in the gravel drive and walked toward it. It was in beautiful condition. I gently touched the edges of the long wood bents. Howdy! came a voice from across the yard. A man walked out to greet us.
He sauntered into a story about Clydesdales and grandkids and back in the day. He had used the carriage regularly back then, but it had been in storage for at least a decade. The grandkids were older now and the Clydesdales retired, and it was time to pass it on.
He was using the money to help with some medical bills for one of his horses. Did we want to meet them? He rolled open a massive door to a beautiful an old barn and there stood two gentle giants.
I’ve been near draft horses a few times in my life, and it’s always a mildly terrifying experience. It’s like being around a wooly mammoth – at that size, it doesn’t much matter that it’s a vegetarian; I keep my distance. But these horses were slow and soft and beautiful.
After the obligatory pats and scriches and apple slices, we wandered back outside to the carriage, her bright red wagon and cream colored cover waiting attentively in the dappled sunlight. After a long pause, Alan inquired about the price. We had no idea what one of these sorts of things goes for these days, or any day, for that matter. Was it comparable to buying a car? A house?
Turns out, it’s more like a lawnmower.
Alan nodded noncommittally and thanked him for his time. We drove home in silence. Then Alan spoke. Well, he asked, what do you think? It’s really nice, I mused. Really nice, he echoed. Silence.
I think we should get it.
I don’t remember who caved first – probably me, I’m guessing. I read a lot of Little House on the Prairie as a child, and I’ll admit it tugged on some serious heartstrings. By dinnertime there it was, sitting behind my studio basking in the sunshine.
What will you do with it?
This is a common question we’ve gotten, and one we initially asked ourselves. The answer is, we’re turning it into a tiny house – or perhaps not so much a house as a place to sleep, as there is room enough for a double mattress plus a smidge of storage. It sleeps two quite comfortably. (We tested it out – market research, you know.) I have to get a bit of marine cloth to sew a second door, but at this point we’re a zipper’s length away from being done.
The goal is to share it with family and friends, offer farm stays, and host artist and writer retreats. In the meantime, it’s a great place to stretch out an aching back and take an afternoon nap.
Thanks as always for reading,