Being given the privilege of living in a place that gives you energy and good vibes every day is the best. Houses have personalities, and property exudes atmosphere and vibrations we may not always recognize. We just get a sense of a place. It can be intense. The property where I live now is wonderful. The rolling hills of Virginia are personified right here. It starts as you enter the driveway shared by a couple of other houses, that goes to my house. It is nearly a mile long. When you turn off the street into the driveway it seems to be a gravel road surrounded by trees. There is no view to speak of except into the woods. But about halfway to my house the trees end and the land opens up to fenced fields on either side of the road.
The road wanders along the top of a ridge so the fields fall off on both sides lending a special view on either side. The dark creosoted three board fences have metal gates painted forest green for access and moving stock around. The foliage changes constantly with the seasons. It often seems to change also almost daily with weather conditions and the time of day.
My first home was in the city of Washington where my parents decided to live because it was the Capital of the United States and they liked to be at the center of things. They bought a house on 2 and a half acres a couple of miles from the downtown area. Their friends all said, ”Why did you move so far out!?” My father wanted land. He wanted trees and this particular house had an oak tree for which it was named. Underoak. The house was not over-large but he knew he could add on to it if they needed to. And as it turned they added many times. The result was a totally unusual house with charm exuding from every corner, every roofline.
Growing up with grass around me and the magnificent oak, a rose garden, and room to run around exposed me to the concept of loving a place. It was almost a living breathing entity. I cherished our house. Especially when we moved to Luxembourg and we had to leave the house for three years. I mourned. I missed that house so much.
Since my husband and I married very young my years there were short but intense. When we first moved to Charlottesville after marriage, the fact that we had a house of our own was such a miracle that I loved it. A very ordinary tract house that soon bored me, but we learned how to be married while we lived there. I learned to cook and to be a mother as well as a wife and lover.
Back in Washington DC, we bought a gorgeous house in an exclusive area. We moved our family and our dogs in and discovered what it meant to have NO yard to speak of. Just room enough for a jungle gym and a tiny patio big enough to put a plant or two. We did all of our outdoor entertaining on a balcony terrace off of the living room. We chaffed at seeing our children playing in the street. Finally, over my objections, we moved to the countryside in Virginia.
I thought I did not want to move but suddenly I felt happy all the time. The city pressures vanished. The social obligations vanished also. It was heaven. Some mornings I would walk about my yard and vegetable garden and driveway and say. “This is mine!” Over and over to myself, I said this. It was just unbelievable how happy it made me. That place was magic. The property and the house, the lay of the land, and the location near the town of The Plains smack in the middle of the local hunt country. We were so lucky! And the nice thing is I knew it. I appreciated every day I spent in that house and on that property. If there was sadness or stress in my life all I needed to do was walk around the property, go down to Little River and watch the water gurgle over rocks or skirt a sand bar in the curve of the stream. Sometimes just sitting in my bedroom and looking at the lovely paneled walls, the charming stone fireplace, seeing light streaming in through the beveled glass windows warmed my heart and gave me a sense of peace. How happy I was in that place!
I will always remember it fondly and with gratitude for the many years we spent there. Unfortunately, that house was torn down by the new owners and replaced with a very large regular shaped house which is not nearly as charming, in my view. I am sure everything works in the new house and the rooms are very large, but are there 7 fireplaces? I doubt it. Are there brick floors, Spanish tile floors, parquette floors, and stone floors? Does the new house have multiple levels on each floor? At Heathfield, there were several rooms where you had to go up or down a couple of steps. It was so interesting and unusual. I guess that is why they tore it down.
Not all the houses I have lived in are mentioned here, but the marvelous place that I live in now suits my present needs perfectly. It is a charming older house which had a major modernization about 30 years ago. That seems recent to someone my age. And there is almost nothing I would change about this place. Mostly on one floor it is easy to manage.
I have an office, and a charming library with a super fireplace where I often sit on winter evenings. My bedroom is on the first floor and it is next to a large room with a fireplace at one end and a dining room chandelier at the other. This “Great Room” opens into a fabulous high ceilinged kitchen lit by the bay of windows facing east and by skylights in the high ceiling.
The house offers great entertaining space inside and out onto the terrace. It is so full of light and peace and beauty that it takes my breath away. The whole length of the house faces east. When the sun comes up it does so at a slight angle causing rods of light to glance off of everything, the mirrors, the flowers, the silver candelabra, even the well-oiled gleaming antiques sparkle with a sunlit glow. When I look out of the row of French doors that line one wall I am rewarded by a new beautiful sight. This often causes me to rush outside to photograph the ever-changing view. It is spectacular.
If I lived on a beach or on the top of a mountain, the views would not be more pleasing, more varied, and uplifting.
Does your home please you? Do you find joy there, just being present? It is good for the soul to feel such gratitude daily. And I do.
Copyright©. 2022 Bonnie B. Matheson