It was love at first sight -Tom knew the minute he saw these 5+ acres that it was the property for us. I agreed and we bought it without looking at anything else. It was the pond and creek that did it - our original dream of a lake view just floated downstream like a leaf caught in the current.
We spent weekends clearing dead branches and trees, and a few cedars that were encroaching on oak trees, mostly with machetes and small hatchets. The kids loved that! They did their share, considering their ages (10, 7, and 4 when we bought it), picking up rocks, erecting erosion control fences from the cleared cedars to keep the dust out of the creek, helping dig the trenches for the septic drain field...later, they hammered, shoveled, painted, swept, spackled, bagged construction trash, whatever they were asked to do, to help our dream home become a reality.
This house is literally baptized with blood, sweat, and tears - and plenty of all three. It took eight years from the time we bought the property until we moved into the still-far-from-finished house. Tommy finally had his own bedroom...for the last half of his senior year of high school, anyway.
Tom's accident delayed the building, but not for long - he worked through those aches and pains and around the subsequent migraines. He took a short break from working on the house to have a stent inserted into an artery in his heart, then got right back to it. He's had three, maybe four, hernia surgeries. I've lost count.
And it's still not finished - but we try to do what we can without stressing about it. We balance our "working on it" with our "enjoying it". The pond has cycled through drought and flood - mostly drought the last few years. The small waterfall isn't running right now, but the creek is still wet and trickling to the next pond.
But...now we're starting to wonder about the 'enjoying' it part. Our new neighbor appears to have a different building philosophy than we do - bulldoze everything, rip it up, shift it all around, with seemingly no consideration of the land as part of a whole...no consideration of the boundaries or the effect his actions have or might have on the adjacent properties...pond...creek...lake. Have they never thrown a pebble into a pool of water and watched the ripples roll, on and on, away from the center? The very existence of our pond and the continuation of a creek that has flowed over a bed of fossils for hundreds of years is at the mercy of a person who seems to dive before checking the depth of the pool.
We cherished the years we had this section of the hollow to ourselves, and if we could have afforded it, we would have bought up the land on either side of us. We knew eventually others would decide it was worth driving a mile down a dirt road to live down here, and they did, but ironically, not until the property values and the price tag skyrocketed to match nearby gated property on paved roads with lakeviews - people are so funny!
Until now, we've been blessed with neighbors who slipped quietly into the woods, not wanting to change anything, loving it as we love it. Until now, there have been no fences in the hollow. The old cedar posts and barbed wire that remain from its ranching days just add character, not limitations. However, an invisible fence now runs along one side of our property...a wall built from inconsideration and lack of respect. Now I understand the necessity of some fences.
My heart aches for Tom, a man who lives to be a good neighbor and would do anything to help someone, who shed the most blood, sweat, and tears of us all out here to build something of beauty for his family- a legacy for his kids - who has spent years trying to maintain the natural beauty of the area. He overcame so many obstacles to get this far - financial, physical, and mental - but these new ones are tougher because he can't understand them: destructiveness, selfishness and thoughtlessness. These bother him just as much as the idea of our pond or the creek being irreversibly damaged.
But we'll hang on and continue working for our dream, fighting for the pond, grateful for the years we had it all to ourselves, untarnished. I'll remind myself that God can bring good from all situations, and I'll pray that this is no exception.
Then (you can see the original creekbed running down the middle)...
Now (currently in a drought, but we're do for a big rain...as in flood..and only pray this wall of dirt doesn't come tumbling down into our pond)...