Happy 10th birth­day, Red Gate Farm

-- August 28th, 2014 --
Hydrangea lit Ten years ago this month, our fam­ily moved into Red Gate Farm. It seems like just a breath ago, but also the place seems to have been part of our lives for­ever, this lit­tle white farm­house sit­ting demurely in a dusty bend of San­ford Road.   The moment we brought Red Gate Farm into our fam­ily, the house and its set­ting, its atmos­phere and its aura of tran­quil­ity, began to nour­ish and sus­tain us. I didn’t want a week­end house. “I like New York on the week­ends, when every­one else goes away,” I insisted. “Have you ever thought that there might be a good rea­son that every­one else goes away?” my hus­band asked rea­son­ably.  “Maybe they’ve got some­thing we haven’t.” “Yes, traf­fic, and pack­ing up the car, and week­end guests, and wor­ry­ing about the house while we’re in town all week,” I said. But I knew it was only a mat­ter of time.  My hus­band loves real estate.  He loves to look at houses and apart­ments, any houses and apart­ments, whether he’s in the mar­ket to buy or not.  But I could rec­og­nize that behind his insis­tence this time was a real impulse to have an escape hatch.  So I went look­ing with him. Week­end after week­end, we left behind the quiet, aban­doned city and sat in the cars of real estate agents as they drove us all around the tri-state area (New York, New Jer­sey and Con­necti­cut, in case you’re not from there), and even ven­tur­ing into the riotously expen­sive neigh­bor­hoods of Bucks County, Penn­syl­va­nia.  We saw many, many ter­ri­ble houses. “This house was built by the archi­tect who built Madi­son Square Gar­den!” chirped one enthu­si­as­tic agent, not seem­ing to con­jure up a men­tal image of that mon­stros­ity, the most hideous of strains upon the New York City sky­line. “Don’t pay any atten­tion to the smell of cat pee, it’s only in the car­pet,” car­oled another opti­mistic go-between, lead­ing me to won­der if other houses boasted pee in the walls as well. “The kitchen is big­ger than it looks, it’s just because it’s so dark inside that it seems small.”  True enough. After trawl­ing these places for Sat­ur­days and Sun­days we strug­gled back in the home-going traf­fic while I tried not to think, “I told you so, I told you so.” Finally I put my foot down.  It was May.  New York City was fresh and dewy and much more appeal­ing than the high­ways where we were spend­ing all our time stuck between SUVs and trucks filled with hydro­gen.  “This is it,” I said firmly.   “The last week­end, and then we admit defeat, and just stay here, where we’re happy.”  “Fair enough,” John said, and we headed out, with our lit­tle 7-year-old daugh­ter in tow. The day brought fresh dis­ap­point­ments, if fresh could be the word.  In the minus­cule dri­ve­way of one sad lit­tle dwelling, the agent reas­sured us, “I know this yard is awfully small, but think how close you’ll be to the road if you need to be plowed out!”  At this, I shut my lips in a tight,…