Ever since we moved beneath the shelter of your roof, I have wanted to give you a name. A name that summed up the joy, love and hope I harbored in my heart for a safe haven, a sanctuary, to raise our family and live our life.
Shall I call you Robin Hill? Early spring finds your lawn covered with dozens of robins pecking for worms on the hill beside the driveway. I envisioned return address labels with the words “Robin Hill” printed beneath my name, like the famous author I once hobnobbed with at her place in Vermont, only hers had to do with apples.
Shall I call you Oleo Acres? “A cheap spread”? my husband joked. We hadn’t lived here very long when he decided to add beef cows to our growing menagerie of ducks and chickens. The twelve acres weren’t vast, but your property did include a barn, pasture and pond.
Shall I call you . . . something to do with cardinals? Or chickadees? Or sparrows? Your environs are blessed with a wide variety of birds. Shall I call you a name that includes other woodland creatures that live in your surrounds?
To see the sky – if I were to write a memoir of our life here, that would be the title. Our previous home was a cottage nestled beneath towering oak trees. We caught glimpses of the sun and sky only when breezes ruffled the leaves in summer and dropped in winter. But here, your open yard allows sunlight to flood your windows, daily filling our home with bright warm light.
Years have gone by. Within your sheltering walls we raised our children as well as the children of our non-human friends – chicks and baby ducks grew strong enough indoors to fend for themselves outdoors. Frisky puppies became lifelong companions. Tiny mewing kittens became largely independent cats.
If your walls could talk, they would tell of days filled with tears from both laughter and sorrow. Of voices raised in joy and thanksgiving. Of petitions offered in fear and uncertainty.
We have prayed and we have partied. We have played games and been drawn together. We have had falling outs and avoided one anothers eyes. We have dined with elegant table settings and supped with paper plates. We have gathered and we have dispersed.
So what do I call this place that has seen thirty plus years of our life? Seen children go and grandchildren come, seen the passing of loved ones and the gaining of new friends?
While touring the Thousand Islands one summer, we boated past a large white house on a hill. The sign out front said Casa Blanca. “How intriguing and beautiful,” I said. My daughter deflated my bubble just a tad when she replied, “All that means is ‘white house’.”
White house. When explaining to friends, or the pizza delivery guy where we live, I always say, “the white house on the hill, the one with the sloping driveway and stone steps leading down to the road.”
That’s it, I decided. From then on, our home would be called Casa Blanca. White house.
A place where the old met the new. A place where the tried met the untried. A place where fears met faith. The place we call home.
Casa Blanca, we love you and thank-you for your shelter and for all the memories that have clung to your floors, attached to your woodwork and seeped into your walls.