“Isn’t that a stitch?” laughed one old friend when we told her of our new modest home. “Bring it along when you come to visit,” suggested another friend. Swallowing East Coast pride and prejudices, my husband and I had bought a doublewide.
There are some real fine features to our doublewide: space is used efficiently and there are plenty of electrical outlets. We even have two bathrooms for the first time in our married life. On the other hand, in our fifteen-year-old Pinewood every faucet drips, not every door closes, and squirrels have made the crawl space their own.
With the same prescience with which I had declared when we moved to urban Maryland, “I don’t want to live anywhere near this intersection”—and soon ended up only blocks away—so I asked my husband when we happened to drive by what is now our home, “Why can’t we find a dump like that?”
Our dump, you see, has a view. From our moderately level perch the land falls away at a forty-five-degree angle into one of the many canyons that characterize the area known as the Devil’s Backbone. Our vista includes some of the yet uncluttered slopes of the Texas Hill Country. They are dry hills. Clumps of dark trees, mostly mountain cedars, contrast with the light green of the often-parched herbaceous growth. The ground is accented with the gray of late Cretaceous limestone. The sky, of course, is big.
Vultures ride the air currents above the canyons, and wrens nest under the house. I’ve heard the raw call of a male roadrunner and have watched turkeys court in the yard. My son has held an injured male painted bunting in his hands, and the endangered golden-cheeked warbler comes to our feeder. We stop for Texas alligator lizards lumbering across the gravel road with their thick, heavy tails and take joy in every fence lizard, skink, and anole we see. Snakes are viewed with thrill and caution. Besides the rather pedestrian foxes, raccoons, possums, armadillos, and deer in the yard, we’ve had two spotted skunks try to move in and a truly treasured ringtail spent a fat winter subsidized by a sack of cat food left in the shed. Garden spiders weave their intricate orbs under the doublewide’s eaves, butterflies search for nectar among the wildflowers, tarantulas are sighted infrequently, scorpions are encountered frequently. It is only fire ants that we look upon with scorn.
We’re fifteen miles out of town—about a twenty-minute drive unless I get stuck behind a horse trailer. In Maryland, a twenty-minute drive might have gotten me the four miles to work; now it gives me the quiet for which I’ve always longed.
Moving into my new home hasn’t been only about city versus country living, or East versus West. The transition has been more about those laughs I hear when I tell my friends about our doublewide. The transition has been about my internalized sense of home—a multistoried, old house with delightful nooks and crannies. It is that quaint old house, full of nuances, which breathes a history, that I’ve always imagined as me, as my home.
Perhaps someday we will build a house here that feels more substantial. Whether or not we do, though, the view from our dump is rich.