By Tom McDermott
The cable man arrived at our new home a mere 15 minutes past his three-hour appointment window, so I knew our recent move was already on the right track. I still had my more important personal belongings in a small self storage, and planned to bring those things over on my own time and with care. Other than that, all of our recently moved things were still laying all around. While he maneuvered around boxes of books, loose books, and an empty bookcase to finish installing a DVR, modem, and router, we were both greeted by a distinct “Baaaah, Baaaaaah” sound coming from near the den window.
I knew that our country cottage came complete with two horses grazing in the nearby meadow, and that there was a working egg farm just down the road. But sheep? Nobody said anything about sheep. But, then again, we did not know the living room only had two-thirds of a floor until after the old carpet was removed, or that the upstairs plumbing was a sporadic thing. Well, nothing that plumbers can’t fix. We may also need to upgrade most of its electrical parts such as circuit breakers and switches to make the property safer. Who cares, we thought, we’re going to live in a sweet cottage and save on rent to boot. So what if it has its quirks and is further away – six miles – from saltwater than we have ever lived in our married lives (35)? We were in love.
“Let’s give it a test,” the cable man said, and voilà, there was a picture on the TV screen, and, more importantly, a strong WiFi signal. At which point, the modem seemed to say, “Moooo, Moooo.” Nobody told us about cows either. A bit of digging inside one of a dozen boxes jammed into the room unearthed an animal puzzle our granddaughter has fun with when she visits from the West Coast. If the sheep or cow wasn’t placed in the right slot, kept mooing, etc. We still have not located the pieces, so are treated to authentic barnyard noises day and night.
The thought of moving makes most of us cluck like chickens. We all say we want to downsize, but where? Big houses are bulldozed for even bigger ones and what in the world are we going to do with all this accumulated stuff in cellars, attics, garages, and bedrooms no longer occupied by our children who live in postage stamp-sized apartments?
After a major downsizing six years ago and offloading generations worth of stuff, we’ve spent the last two years shedding even more: a small trailer sent to the West Coast, many trips to the recycling center, especially to the Greenwich book exchange, but we still had 1,000 books. How does that happen? As soon as we (meaning I) discovered our new home had a huge double cellar and a two-Suburban sized garage, I quit tossing.
A lot of moving takes place in summer, in between school terms. As a rule, our own moves take place when we are busiest – a few decorating jobs to manage, two upcoming weddings to plan for clients, a newspaper deadline looming, one home to clean and hand over, and another to prepare for living.
On each of our visits to the cottage, we marveled at how cool downstairs stayed on warmer days, and how the heat could be turned off in April. Then, for two straight days, the thermometer edged towards 100°F. The second one was moving day, of course.
The first night, we experimented with fans in the bedroom, settling on a trusty old Vornado, set atop a bureau. We were utterly exhausted, yet could not fall asleep. We kept our sense of humor, and I was reminded of when Lucy and Desi moved to that Westport country house long ago.
Finally, my eyes closed, I may have even heard the slight rustle of a breeze in the nearby trees as I fell asleep, only to be awakened minutes later by a resounding “Cocka-doodle-dooooooo!”