Nothing but flowers (and weeds… there are weeds)


I always get a bit skeptical when people claim they knew exactly what they were getting when they moved into their first home.

It’s a reaction built on doubt, since virtually every homeowner I’ve ever met had a list of surprises that hit them when they purchased a house. Busy all over with unexpected thrills, never mind the thought of being able to say they were prepared for everything that first property tossed their way.

One of my most memorable experiences in this regard was a friend that claimed because they had rented a different house (as opposed to an apartment), he and his wife were prepared for what the house they purchased might throw their way.

I should probably add at this moment that I don’t wish anyone headaches and problems as far as home ownership is concerned. I don’t. But there’s this naïve ignorance that so many don’t recognize, and then they fall victim to it when the thrills begin. That friend that assumed one house was going to equate to another… that they were ready because they had lived together in a house… hearing that idea expressed was like bells and whistles and fireworks that some fun was about to begin.

It did.

The first wave of surprise was caused by three squirrels. A tree on one side of the house had branches the reached out and ended within a few inches of the roof. Actually, more specifically, it had one branch that was literally two inches away from the vent for the attic. (Use your imagination, and you still won’t be close to the amazing chaos caused by trying to evict those three unexpected residents after they moved in.)

The second wave came during the first winter in the house. Any time snow was melting, the couple was finding water in the basement. After checking everything, including gutters and flashing, they made an interesting discovery accidentally when they went out into the yard with their dogs. The house they bought had a pool, a deck around that pool, and a concrete slab set up perfectly for a barbecue area. Because the deck wasn’t perfectly level, the snow melting on it was running off it to the side of the concrete slab. The slab had a bit of a slant to it, causing water to move from it toward the house. If there was a lot of snow melting, or if the ground was still somewhat frozen, a significant amount of water would end up flowing directly toward the house.

In our first house the biggest surprise was the trees. Dozens upon dozens of them. Mostly towering, mature oaks. We first saw the house in late winter. We made our offer in the early spring and purchased it in May. Things looked lovely then. By early November, I had learned countless new curse words. The leaves… oh, dear lord, the leaves. Piled upon each other, high and deep and unending. In the early spring, there was zero way of knowing what was headed our way in the fall.

Rarely will you have seen a house in all seasons and all situations. And that’s what matters. It’s a twist on that not knowing what you know until you know it idea. If you don’t see the house in the snow… if you don’t see what happens as rainwater flows down the driveway toward the garage door… if you don’t try to turn on the shower and washing machine at the same time… then you don’t understand what to expect when a strong wind blows.

Heck, we had a housewarming party for some friends after moving in to that first house. It was only then, while trying to play music and cook in the kitchen on a hot summer day with the air conditioner running, that we learned exactly how much of the house was wired into the same circuit.

In our current home, we’re still trying to figure out the hidden treasures of plants and flowers. The first couple of years, Terry and I would get ahead of ourselves when it came to gardening. We’d recognize many of the early varieties… say daffodils and tulips… and enjoy them as they bloomed. But there was a good chance we ended up cutting down or pulling up many others as they arrived, thinking we were cleaning up weeds and keeping things tidy.

Last year, a few decisions exposed several varieties of lilies that we didn’t know were located along one of the edges of our yard. So, this year, Terry decided we should ease back and let a lot of things just grow a bit wild. See what happens. Track the progress.

For the most part, still only a few days into the actual summer and with many weeks remaining until the fall arrives, it has been an interesting experience. Unfortunately, we were drenched with poor weather in March, April and May, which has in turned slowed everything down (and literally washed many things away).

It’s a crazy thing learning—literally and figuratively—where the weeds are around your home. It can be fun, but it’s not always easy. There’s work to be done, issues to address, and items to remember for next time.

Try not to forget to appreciate the flowers along the way.


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