the Practice House

On the radio the other day there was a show about urban planning. People were saying that we need to give up the idea of a single family dwelling for every family. I’ve been thinking the same thing for a long time. In many of the world’s cities it is unexpected that one can have the stand-alone home with yard and garden. Certainly we’ve done our share of high-density living. But we had the opportunity to move into a house, and we decided to give it a try.

I confess that I am truly hooked. I love that we have windows facing all directions (except, ironically, North – which was the only direction in which we had windows in our last place, leading to the feeling of being in a dark tunnel all the time). Even with winter on our doorstep a day of sunshine brings warm light throughout our home. And it is such a pleasure to take advantage of the warmth to putter around outside. Today I spent some time stringing Christmas lights around the deck railing, sweeping the front steps and driveway, and mixing the yard waste with some kitchen scraps in my composter. I’m excited about planning my container garden for the spring, and thinking about planting some pretty things in my garden. The Christmas decorations are ready, including boughs for the fireplace mantle but I have a personal policy not to decorate until December so next weekend I’ll begin.

I’m so enjoying life in a house that I can’t help but think about how nice it would be to own one. Despite the generosity of our landlords, who are willing to pay for paint and other materials to improve the place, there are still some things I’d like to do that aren’t practical given the expenses involved. How wonderful it would be not to have such restrictions, and to make the place as perfect as I desire (and understand that it’s the fun of planning and executing the improvements that draws me, not some notion that perfection is necessary). But for us, as is the case for many families here, buying a home in this city is not doable right now. The houses in our neighbourhood are currently selling for $825,000 – $850,000. ‘Nuff said.

So rather than get upset about it, I’m thinking of this place as my “practice home”. This is all pretty new to me, and I’m bound to make mistakes. Better to learn now so that when the time comes that we can buy a house I’ll know exactly what I want to do, and how to do it. I love our neighbourhood, I have a great community of friends here, and I have no desire to leave for a while. But one idea we had when we moved to this place was to figure out if we were really cut out for even more, that acreage we’ve talked about for so long. This is just a baby step towards that end, and we’ve only been here for a couple of months, but so far it looks promising. I really like puttering around outside, and the idea of having more land, perhaps a barn and some horses, doesn’t seem so overwhelming.

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