Happy, Happy News
Most of you know that Lois and I have been married almost 39 years and we have been blessed with four sons and four daughters. We also have six grandsons and three granddaughters. Lord, willing this year Holly and Jesse will have a little girl named Bella Allene, Chuk and CC will have a little lad named Gunnison, and next spring Hannah and Dale will have a child. This week they heard the heartbeat. It is too soon to know the baby’s gender, but Hannah is already shopping for all the necessary things for the loved and anticipated child and I smile to imagine what a great dad Dale will be.
It’s Not a Garage and It’s Not a Barn
When we moved to Jackson County in mid-January. I kept gently correcting people when they called our outbuilding a garage. I would smile and say; “O, that is not the garage, that is the barn…”
Last week Keith Gillmore visited to service our central air. Keith and his family have been part of the Bethel Church for years and he is a life-long Jackson County resident. He told me that from 14-18 years old he lived and worked in a cider mill. He had some fascinating stories to tell. Then he looked up at the barn and said; “That is a neat old carriage house.”
“What? What did you say?”
“You have an old carriage house—a coach-house. The carriage went inside that door,” he said, pointing the door, “…and the horse went in the back. That is why you have the sliding barn door in back opening to the pasture. Originally where the stairs goes up to the loft there was only a ladder built against the wall so you could reach the horse’s feed in the loft.”
That made my day. We don’t own a garage. We don’t own a barn. We own our very own carriage-house right here on Bittersweet Farm. This was a delightful discovery. I knew the building was erected in 1920, but I didn’t realize it was a carriage-house or coach-house.
It has a sliding door on the northwest side. It has an overhead door opening to the drive on the east and originally it had a sliding barn door on the north that would have opened into the barnyard or pasture. Now it has a stairway and a workshop built under the stairway with a window in the workshop opening to a beautiful view to the north. It has a nice wood-burning stove and a good set of speakers installed by the previous owner.
Years ago a friend, Gary Mickle—as a gesture of love, built me a stout set of shelves made from concrete forms. There are give indestructible units. They have been with me wherever I have gone since he built them for me about 30 years ago. They are a treasure to me and now they line the north wall of our very own carriage-house to organize our tools and supplies.
The carriage-house is white, matching the farmhouse on Bittersweet and it has a black standing-seam roof. It is a practical and handsome outbuilding with some character and history. The loft has windows opening to the east and west.
In future summers I can imagine sleeping with the grandchildren in the carriage-house loft. I will hang on their words and listen to their laughter and their joyful banter. Maybe I will fill the loft with the sound of the harmonica before we pray and drift into the sweetness of sleep with country sounds and country smells all around us. Maybe the light from the rising moon will fall on the floor of the loft while I tell them my stories.
Out in the distance the scent of skunk and the sound of crickets will be on the night air and maybe even the fragrance of new-mown hay—or the call of the Barred Owl from the woods across the road or the frightful sound of a bobcat—who knows… When you’re sleeping in the loft of a one-hundred-year-old carriage house you never know.
What Happens When You Listen
I like to get to know the Bethel people so I can pray for them. I try to pray for every member and every attender every week. When I pray for them I try to discover their stories. When you get to know people’s stories they are easier to love and pastor. It’s also very common, when you are listening to people, for them to tell you things you would never have known. Sometimes you unearth valuable gems. Almost everyone has them if you listen well.
If I had not listened to Keith, I might never have known that we were the grateful owners of an authentic carriage-house. In two years we will celebrate it’s centennial birthday.
Out in the drive I watched Keith drive away in his shiny red truck and stood a little taller. With a simple story he had dramatically raised the poetic value of our home and raised the worth our already priceless Bittersweet Farm.
July 11, 2018