To know me is to know that I love small world stories. I've been blessed with so many of them since beginning this blog and this one particularly tickles me because it combines an online friend with one of my favorite places on earth - the Copper Country. But it gets even better than that...
You see - Lara has been an online connection of mine for at least five or six years now. We were part of the same network before I began my blog - and she's been a reader of my blog since I began it, four and a half years ago. Lara is from Utah and scrapbooks - which is probably an accurate description for more than a few of my readers.
BUT. Lara emailed me last March with a guess what email. Guess what - she said - my husband has a promising interview in Houghton and wow - do all the houses up there have sauna's in them? I replied with a bit of envy (oh...we'd love to live up there, but jobs are scarce) and confirmed that yes - all the houses have saunas. Just wait for winter. *wink* Okay - they don't all have saunas. But almost.
And then I forgot about it.
Lara emailed again the end of August and said - guess what! We bought a house and we live in Houghton!
And I said, but wait - my grandma has a house for sale in Houghton - up on Paradise Road. Lara emailed back again with a link (I was going to link here too - but the house appears to be off the market now) and said - this house? And oh - it was so sad for me to look through all those rooms so empty like that - but I said - yes, that house. Turns out that they actually really liked the house but something about four girls and one bathroom (she didn't think the toilet in the basement counted, apparently) was the clincher.
Oh. But if only she had known the memories that I have locked up in that house......
This is where we'd go for our Saturday night saunas. (We were one of those poor folks who actually didn't have a sauna in our home - so we packed our bags and sauna'd elsewhere. Which is normal. Trust me) There used to be painted white rocks lining the driveway, and my dad would encourage me to bike them to and fro, in and out. He was convinced it could be done, but I was more convinced that I'd fall and crack my head open on a rock. This was pre-helmet days remember. Looking back now - I think it really was impossible and it was just an occupier to get me out of his hair. hmph.
When we pulled into the driveway, grandma and grandpa would be sitting in front of the garage here waiting in their fold down lawn chairs. My mom and dad would join them and we'd be outside enjoying the weather until it was time for our saunas. When we left at night, we kids would often go outside early and watch the bats fly round and round the light pole - scared and fascinated at the same time. We were very careful to never wear white when we went to grandma's, because we knew that attracted bats.
I have memories of that little dirt road - of my mom and dad on my dad's motorcycle, of my mom wiping out, of walking by myself and feeling like I'd wandered so far from the house. Independent.
We used to keep our camper back here, behind the garage. We didn't camp often when I was growing up, but the camper made me feel adventurous - I like to sit near it and imagine the places we'd go.
Grandma's raspberry patch is back here too - I have memories of helping her pick, of checking their ripeness on our visits. And rhubarb - mmmmm - it was on this photo shoot that I gathered a plant to grow here and home and I'm happy to say that it transplanted very well.
Even further back behind that garage, I remember standing with my dad amongst the trees that were planted so carefully in rows, and watching a bear making his way through the woods.
There are a lot of cousin memories mixed in with grandma's house as well. There used to be a sandbox underneath that window, and between us and the cousins, we'd have large caverns and towers built as a home for the frogs we'd gather up from the pond. It was a giggle worthy chore to keep that many frogs in the sandbox - they were constantly leaping out and making their way back to a safer haven, but it was the challenge of seeing how many frogs we could keep in the sandbox at once that made it so fun.
I've been told that when my dad and his siblings were kids - that the pond was clean enough to swim in. When I was growing up, it was much cleaner than seen here, but not clean enough for swimming - but fabulous for catching tadpoles and frogs. There was a snapping turtle in this pond in later years, which made grandma nervous as my own kids would venture down for a peek.
In the winter we'd skate on the pond, and stay clear of the soft spot over where the spring came in. Although we sometimes ventured a little closer out of curiosity.
When my aunt got married in this yard, with me as a flower girl, this pond offered a backdrop for many many pictures.
Behind this other side of the pond, way in the back corner, there's a large flat rock right beneath a birch tree. One of my favorite memories is of my grandma and I having our own little picnic there. I imagine she must have been babysitting me, for there was nobody else around that day - it was one of those magical moments.
When those evergreens were young and easy to get around, the cousins and our crew would use them for hide and go seek. It was in there, huddled up and hiding with my cousin Wayne - just a year younger than me - that I got the giggles because he turned to me and asked in all seriousness - "Do you always smile?" and I thought it was such a funny question from him particularly, because he was the most smiling kid I knew.
Out back behind the house there used to be a plum tree - oh, how I loved eating plums from that tree. I'd eat them until I was sick and then I'd eat some more.
It was on the hill back here that a Bekkala hit a Laakso in the head with a whiffle ball bat. Or vice versa. I'm pretty certain that I was just a witness to that particular incident - but I can't be positive.
This red door comes out from the sauna/laundry room/toilet area. We'd sneak out here after sauna and cool down. Grandma would bring her clothes out from her old fashioned washing machine and pin them to the clothesline.
I have a memory of laying out in the sun with my Aunt Mary - and watching the dragonflies landing on my toes.
To tie in another small world story - there was a gentleman who came to my garage sale a few years ago and when we started talking - somehow he caught on that I had Upper Michigan ties - we came to find out that he was the guy who installed my grandparents satellite and was/is a good friend of my grandma's. Small world. He stopped by again this year just to say hello, and he delivers meals on wheels to the elderly man across the street.
There were four out buildings (counting the garage) on my grandparents property - and this one has always been my favorite. I always thought it would make a lovely playhouse. To my knowledge, I've only been beyond that door once - and I don't remember anything special after that. I must have been disappointed.
mmmm. and the red door with the white scallop trim. Coincidentally - this is one of my favorite scrapbooking color combinations.....gray, red, white. And Scallops. There might be something in that. In early years, grandma would walk out to the car with us when I'd go to visit her with my own kids, but in later years - she'd stand just beyond this window and wave....
So you see - I feel certain that had Lara known all this she would have surely bought this house. Don't you think? *wink*
I asked Lara, by the way, if she was okay with me linking her blog. I warned her that in a small town/area like that it's very likely that someone is going to approach her now and say - hey - I read about you on Sharyn's blog. She and her family are loving the area - and I'm loving reading about her experiences through a newcomer's eyes. She's an excellent writer, a voice instructor, a photographer - and her husband is the new Orchestra Director at Michigan Tech. Even though they didn't buy my grandma's house - I'm looking forward to knocking on her door on my next visit north and getting to meet her face to face.