Thursday, November 7, 2013

Wind and Weather and Whether We Stay or Go

Last Saturday was one of those days when the wind sounds like waterfall, even through the windows, and the trees dance, trunks swaying, limbs bowing, needles and small branches snowing to the ground. A day when the power blinks and the house is filled with beeps as appliances turn on and off and on, and I worry about whether I’ll need to start the generator, if I can start the generator, and where I put the directions.

It was the sort of day when clouds blow through fast in great gray swaths until they hit an atmospheric wall somewhere and pile thick enough to (finally) rain. The cats and I were edgy with wait. I at least, would be soothed by water pelting against the windows, something to dampen and temper all the swirling energy.

Mostly that kind of autumn day is familiar, the rush of sound and dusky smell of forest on the edge of this island calling back my twenty-five years in the Santa Cruz mountains, redwoods and cedars so similar in scent, stature, and structure.

There is more color here from deciduous trees, and of course, the Sound close by—gray chopped with whitecaps Saturday—but in both environments when they’re alive with movement, I feel small, humbled, at nature’s mercy, not entirely sure I’m safe inside my glass and wood.

Storm moving through from our dining room.

On those days I pay closer attention to my surroundings, and the recognition that I’m not in control—something I often ignore or try to—rises to the foreground. It’s a bit uncomfortable, as our cat who could not get comfortable will verify, yet the shift in consciousness from me and my will out to the wider world is important and necessary.

It’s easy to get trapped inside my head, and my head for the past several weeks had been preoccupied with Redfin real estate listings. Why? My husband and I are thinking that the house we live in now will most likely be our next “flip” this spring, since we already own it and have already done the majority of the remodeling.

I’m the one who broached the subject (as I remember it) and the idea can seem rash or genius depending on my mood. In many ways it would be easier to stay, to finish the remodel, unpack our things, settle into church and community life, and live here ten or twenty years until the island is as familiar to us as the Santa Cruz Mountains was.

I think back on how my husband and I landed here. There was some research and deliberation, but mostly it was intuition and nudging, a step into the unknown trusting God, and we were held so graciously in that change.

Some manifestation was purely practical: our neighborhood’s power lines are underground, meaning even though limbs littered the streets all around us last Saturday and the work of chainsaws clearing downed trees from roads was evident, our power stayed on. Other graces are aesthetic: our garden is packed with Japanese maples and tree-sized rhododendrons and perennial bulbs; bald eagles frequent our neighborhood, and on clear days we can see peaks of the Olympic range (Constance and Zion).

Mt. Zion peaks below the clouds at sunset.

We thought we were preparing for much of our same life in a different location. But that hasn’t been the case. Not only did Kevin not find a corporate job, I have been hosting mostly vacationers not writers in our retreat, and I haven't been able to implement my ideas for leading writing workshops. Venues were too expensive, the need not pressing, or someone else was already offering them.

It came to me one day in September that perhaps Bainbridge Island is, to use United Methodist lingo, “an interim appointment” for Kevin and me.

Perhaps we’re needed off the island and on the Kitsap Peninsula. There is much we don’t know about Kitsap County, but we do know there are great pockets of need; neighborhoods wiped out by foreclosures, military families still reeling from the government shutdown. Perhaps those are the homes we are meant to bring into repair. Perhaps those are the people who need the construction jobs our small business could offer, and the people who have a need to write their stories.

Saturday I whittled my Redfin “favorites” down to a realistic number and Sunday my husband and I took our second driving trip around the county to locations we have never been, looking at neighborhoods to see if we could picture ourselves fixing up and selling homes, or living there ourselves.

There is one home calling to us to live in, a small high-bank waterfront cottage with a bald eagle’s nest three lots away. It needs so much work, but we like the neighborhood and the view. It’s been for sale almost two years, and we have no idea if it will be waiting for us next year once both our project house and our own home sell, and so we wait and wonder.
"Charming waterfront cottage" says the listing. "Major fixer" says us.
Remodeling and writing are transformative acts, and for now, those are the gifts and talents we have to share. We remain open to continued transformation (and change and downsizing), trusting that God will again (and always) lead us to the next right place.

The view at our next home?

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