• Cara Van Leuven

A Year Into It

It seems generous to say it was 6ºF a year ago today. It felt much colder as we loaded up the truck and removed the last touches of our life from the loft. It was so crazy cold and we couldn’t leave the truck unattended as derelicts swarmed the alley and eyed any possible quick-haves.

As we pulled away from a warehouse famous for making men’s shirts, downtown St. Louis shrunk from sight. There was no room for Shiloh to sit anywhere but on my lap shared with a fragile sculpture. I can’t imagine everything stayed in the back of the truck during our 40-minute commute to the farmhouse, and I can’t say I would have missed much of anything had we lost it.

The decorating philosophy of the loft had been “layer-upon-layer.” It was a unique aesthetic, and most people remarked it was like walking through a museum; with each visit came a new discovery. For reasons that simply can’t be determined, rationalized or explained, we moved EVERYTHING, including Goodwill boxes! Who moves Goodwill boxes to a new home instead of dropping them off at a the nearest location??

A year after that Godawful move, we enjoy a more minimalistic approach to country living. As our possessions dwindled (many finally making their way to Goodwill), our flock of pets has grown to include two dogs and four ducks with more to come. A portion of our six acres of lawn has been returned to prairie and with that attracts more birds, bees, and of course, mice.

I thought we would miss the city, so Tom and I promised to carve time out on the weekends to reminisce on our old stomping grounds. We envisioned the coffee shop and old friends and compacted life in old warehouses. The big discovery was an overwhelming amount of chores that needed to be tended to around the house and the property.

The shock really came when the pining for the city never erupted. We took pride in the changes we were making in the house and found ourselves preferring to basque in our hard work. Instead of battling for parking, hauling groceries to the loft and waiting for the elevator … life was actually becoming simpler despite an overwhelming number of projects waiting to be addressed.

The farmhouse is far from complete. If I was writing the 10-year-anniversary blog instead of the one-year-version, I don’t think the first sentence of this paragraph would be any different. It’s not easy coming to peace with the fact the chores are endless, especially when, at the loft, you simply dropped the heat, shut the door behind you and made sure it was locked. Off you went.

I wouldn’t take back loft living, although I do miss the people intensely. Sunlight is raining and warmth is moving in today on the farmhouse. The dogs are nonstop and the ducks are bathing. The bird feeder is empty, the fence needs patchwork and there are three paintings in my studio nearing the finish line. It’s a good life.