The house that Kate and Jack built, July 2009

This Wednesday we became the owners of exactly one house. The payers of exactly one set of utility bills. The maintainers of a single one-third acre. It’s final; the sale of our house in Prescott, WA, has closed.

It’s a bittersweet relief, having only one place to take care of after three months of going back and forth. Inspections, moving, maintenance, more inspections, documents to sign. Regular 40-mile round trips on two-lane roads amidst the dusty glory of wheat harvest will no longer be reflected in our fuel bill. No more pleading with our kind friends and former neighbors to help us move just a few more large and heavy objects in their horse trailer. Now, we are townies.

I’m not mourning our place in Prescott too much at present, for the reasons above, but also because I’ve grappled with the heartbreak of leaving our lovely place for over two years. I’ve had to let go of the house and its romance, its life that started in 1895 when Jack Pettyjohn and Kate Walter put up the original walls, a small home common to that place and era that rambled into something bigger as porches were enclosed. A major addition in the 1920s comprises the bulk of the house. We added a bathroom and walk-in closet in 2009.

Old patterns are replaced by new possibilities. In Prescott, I took great joy in looking at the land around me, wheat fields in varied states of growth and fallow, the Blue Mountains darkly gorgeous in the southeast. Now I take joy in nurturing our enclosed, peaceful yard in Walla Walla, a limited vista but, with fruit trees and raised garden beds, enough to make a world of its own. And the new possibilities! The thought of making more than a weekly round trip “to town” in our Prescott days, a day filled with grocery shopping, appointments and errands, was so wearying we rarely did anything recreational. Like have a meal out. Or go to a movie. Or buy produce at the farmers market. Like so many rural folk we tended to stay on our home place most of the time, partly because there was always so much to take care of, like lawns, pastures, weed control and the annual shower of apricots.

Kate, the autumn purple white ash tree, October 2015

We’ve left the new owner our 1997 Honda riding mower, purchased from Jim Minish at his Honda dealership in Port Townsend when the rig was a mere 7 years old. I swear, it runs like a champ. We will meet with the new owner this Saturday to go over the niceties of wells, septic system, irrigation management and whatever else she needs to know. I’ll point out the two autumn purple white ash trees we planted on the property in 2008. They are named Kate and Jack, in honor of the two who built the place. The human Kate and Jack are buried in the old Ivy Cemetery just west of Prescott. “Let us live in our house by the side of the road and be a friend to man” is their epitaph, adapted from the poem of Sam Walter Foss.

Driving the 1997 Honda riding mower, summer 2015

Our new house is no spring chicken. Can you hear Bruce saying, “Hey, what do you mean by that?” Both he and the new house were built in 1948. I look forward to life with them both, and learning more of their stories along the way.

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