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The Making of Sandhill: Before the Build

It was the day the first load of lumber was delivered to the site of what would one day be Sandhill and, being 10 and 8, Adam and Kate's immediate response was to climb to the top of the mountain of 2 x 4s, 1 x 6s, and assorted other lengths and widths. If I'm honest, I probably told them, as I snapped this shot, to look excited. There was no such thing as a selfie in 1991 and since I couldn't record my own sense of anticipation I would record theirs.

In the background is the mobile home where I lived at the time and, as I look back on the creation of the structure that has been my home for the last 29 years, I'd be remiss if I didn't also look back on the place that was my home for the six years before.

I'd made up my mind pretty soon after Adam was born that somebody would have to run me off from the farm to get me to leave. At the end of every day at a job that I hated, I would stop by to marvel at the blueness of his eyes and the tiny cleft in his chin that mirrored his mother's. I would let him pull at my hair and my glasses and spit up on the shoulder of my suit jacket and wonder how I'd ever made it through the days before his arrival.

By the time Kate was born, the die was cast and I'd planted my flag forever into the sand of Adabelle. They were 5 and 3 when the trailer, built to my specifications, came rumbling down the dirt road and sunk into the plowed field that had been a pasture. It had a front door on which they never bothered to knock, a cookie jar that was always full of Oreos, and a bedroom on one end that -- they would tell anybody who asked -- was theirs.

In that, my first home that cost less than the last car I bought, they helped me decorate my first Christmas tree. Adam recited the first voice mail message I ever had for the telephone number I still have and Kate played dress-up with the silk blouses and scarves I thought made me look like a lawyer. They rode their bikes in wild circles in the front yard and sat on the concrete steps to drink Capri Suns. The two of them, more than any furniture or dishes or linens, made that mobile home an actual home.

I used to joke about the trailer. I laughed at the fact that no matter how provoked I got I couldn't make any of the doors slam. I rolled my eyes at wallboard printed to look like wallpaper. I chuckled to myself every single time I went to hang something on the wall and the nail went through the sheetrock with one very gentle tap. I used to joke about the trailer, but I don't anymore.

It, with help from Adam and Kate, taught me what I wanted in the home I would build -- lots and lots of windows through which I could see the sun and the fields and however many generations of children came to play in the yard, a big wide porch high enough that they could use it as a launching pad, and a ceiling high enough for a Christmas tree that would hold a lifetime of ornaments and shelter a sleighful of gifts.

Sandhill's beginning wasn't the day the footings were dug or the lumber was delivered. It was the day that Fleetwood settled in and, with it, so did I.

Copyright 2020

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