The house in which I spent part of my youth now sits, as it has over many winters under a blanket of snow, which continues its vicious assault on parts of good old New England.
Watching the weather up in that neck of the woods got me reminiscing about those days, one of the last times I was an indoor/outdoor cat. There were three of four of us then, and we'd come and go as we pleased (actually, we had to be let in and out at their whim), sometimes disappearing for days at a time.
We shared the old homestead with a couple of dogs as well, who were also indoor/outdoor. Unfortunately for them the outdoor portion of their lives had to be spent in a fenced-in area just off the rear of the eight-stall barn that took up the better portion of the back yard.
I watch the weather radar now and remember how dad was always afraid of the barn roof collapsing. The barn was in rough shape, he'd always said, and for the years we lived there he'd always intended to shore up the sagging roof.
The barn survived our ownership, roof intact, but the year after we sold the place a good, heavy wet snow saw to it that the structure wouldn't survive another winter, and down it went.
As with everywhere I've lived we had the run of the place. The kids each had their own bedroom, and the gently sloping ancient hardwood dining room floor opened onto one of two basement staircases that lead to the finished part of the basement, offering us plenty of space to run around and wreak havoc at night. In those days I preferred exploring around the unfinished side of the basement, built of boulders bigger than dad and crumbling comfortably in spots.
That house always held such mystery and excitement for us, and with fifteen rooms and almost thirteen acres of fields and woods we never ran out of places to explore. When dad and his then-wife bought the place it was painted New England red. The rugged slate roof with intricate designs and ornate woodwork on the high trim combined to make this a Victorian classic, complete with high arched peaks stretching to the clouds.
They sure don't make them like that anymore. One of dad's favorite places was the difficult-to-access attic, a space he remembers checking out right after we moved in. Once he got his worklight and extension cord up there he marveled at the size of the rough-cut timbers that made up the skeleton of the house. That attic was pretty much the only part of the house we felines didn't have access to. I'll bet the mice and bats were plentiful up there!
The wraparound porch on the front was great for those lazy summer days, but my favorite place was the other porch that ran the length of the back of the house. On the sunniest days we'd bask in the sun, snoozing on the wide half-wall that closed in the kitchen entrance and forgetting all our worries (Okay, we were cats. We had no worries.). The last time dad drove up that way he was saddened to see that the new owners apparently found a sale on the ugliest sky-blue paint you'll ever see. 'nuff said.
Sometimes I miss that old place, but I sure don't miss the snow. They can keep it up there. Oh sure, we'll probably be dreaming about it once the humidity we keep hearing about sets in here, but that snow can still stay up north where it belongs.