November is our 10th anniversary at Red Oak House and the longest I’ve lived in one place in my lifetime. The explanation for my peripatetic life is, in part, that I was an Army brat. Looking back, I think that my heart was seeking the perfect match for my home and didn’t find it until we bought Red Oak House.
I know that the 10-year record does not hold for my husband because he grew up in a small southwest North Dakota town, in one place for 15 years. Yet, as an adult, he has also been fairly restless. (To be fair, I lived in Dickinson, N.D., for more than 30 years, but in many different abodes.)
I used to say that I must live where I could smell sagebrush and for much of my life, I did. But now I revel in living where I see the Missouri River every day, content in the knowledge that my beloved Little Missouri River, its hauntingly beautiful tributary, flows by me each day mingled within the waters of the big river. We drink some of the cleanest water in the world, and I am grateful each time I turn on a tap at Red Oak House.
Because our house was vacant at the time a decade ago, the seller allowed us to start painting before we actually closed on the sale in mid-November. By the time the movers arrived with our stuff that had been in storage in South Heart (of all places), it was a blustery day like Monday.
In the intervening years, we’ve sunk lots more sweat equity into this house, not to mention money. We transformed a huge plot of grass into perennial beds, a vegetable garden and raspberry patch. We’ve nurtured the existing trees, most importantly the ND Champion Red Oak, and planted a few more, including a small grove of quaking aspen and a thriving crabapple. We hauled in hundreds of rocks and several boulders and planted thousands of perennials. We built a website to boot.
We replaced most of the original windows and battled a persistently leaky roof until we broke down last spring to lay down some serious cash on a gorgeous metal roof. Summer before last we had most of the wood floors refinished. Last summer I painted the exterior, a huge job for which I am proud I did on my own. We are hopeful the big-ticket items are behind us now and we can spend more on travel.
But for now, we tuck in for a long winter, catching up on projects in our respective offices (mine is in the kitchen where I write bathed in light from the windows all around, Jim’s is more cavelike). In the evenings, we relax in our living room, watching TV and reading books.