Honeybee Lane
Saturday October 30th 2021, 8:50 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

I got an email from my sister.

I would never have expected a real estate listing, of all things, to make me nearly burst into tears. Ohmygosh that hideous yellow on a house designed to disappear and become one with the woods a la Frank Lloyd Wright (who built his youngest son a house three streets away.) More than half the trees are gone. It’s for sale! It’s pending. It’s all but sold. Oh if only. Look how Dad’s fruit trees have grown!

My grandparents thought my folks were crazy: not only was it farther out in the sticks than anyone should have to commute, not only was River Road, now a main artery, reduced to gravel before it got to their turnoff (and it was outside the Beltway, which hadn’t been built yet) but there was a government missile silo protecting Washington DC built into a rock quarry that George Washington had known–at the end of their new street! With warnings and signs and DO NOT TRESPASS on the gate, and c’mon, what do you think curious kids are going to do? It was the height of the Cold War, and the grandparents worried that it and we were going to be blown up. The Soviets surely knew where those were.

And yet.

There was a ten-mile-long watershed preserve with a trail built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. Originally that park came right up to the back of the homes on our street, but another builder sweet-talked the county into swapping land so that his neighborhood could have that as a selling point just like ours had had. They required of him the playground equipment in clearings in the park that I remember playing on as a kid; you had to hike that trail a bit to get to them.

I did not quite make it the day I stepped on some leaves and a hiding snake leaped out of there towards the creek as I leaped away in the opposite direction and didn’t stop till I got home.

It was very much a Calvin and Hobbes’ woods kind of a place and a treasure to explore.

After the folks sold our childhood home in ’07 to, they found out afterwards, a woman who wanted to convert it into an assisted living place, I happened to be in town while the remodeling was happening and my brother drove down from New Jersey to see me while I was closer than California.

We drove by the old place. The contractor’s truck was in the driveway. We talked ourselves into it, and then went and knocked on the door.

He was delighted to be able to show off his work to folks who appreciated and really knew what he’d been able to accomplish. Watch your step–the iron railing around the stairs was gone and the new one wasn’t in yet.

There were tire tracks everywhere across the woods in back: the next door neighbors had planted ivy when we were kids for erosion control and that non-native had taken over the world, smothering out the jack-in-the-pulpits, killing the box turtles they fed, strangling the trees. I marveled at the scarred but now bare trunks and ground and told the guy I’d tried to do that as much as humanly possible one Christmas home from college and had found out just how hard it is to pull ivy off a tree.

He’d done it. He’d done it. He’d cleared it all. Amazing. Thank you. I hoped the turtles could come back.

The house is once again a residence, albeit with laundry facilities upstairs and down.

The bomb shelter (it was a thing in 1962) had a toilet but no door nor wall just a don’t come around that corner, I guess in case all eight of us had to dash downstairs fast in the event of an attack and all try to squeeze in there. Or something. It was there so we could if we had to but we never did. Except, really really fast, just once on my part at about ten years old to prove to myself that it actually worked and I was scared of having to say anything if it didn’t, but thankfully it did. Phew!

But now it’s an actual bathroom (hey look a sink too!) and the ugly gray cinderblocks are nowhere to be seen. Yay. The family room has been expanded into where the shelter was and a closet has been made out of part of it. It’s quite nice.

I marveled at the square footage in the listing, and Richard said, It’s a big house! It always was!

It didn’t seem all that big when there were six kids running around making noise in it…

But so yes: this is the house I grew up in. It had natural redwood siding then and Eichler-style windows with floor to ceiling glass looking out on the woods and the bird feeder. It was a neighborhood where everybody knew and cared about everybody.

If you go to street view in the listing, go to the right of the house and down the hill to the first driveway across the street: that siding is what ours looked like and that steep driveway is where I saw Little Stevie with his proud mom right behind him as he was taking some of his very first steps.

That was (shameless name dropping) Stephen Colbert. They moved away when he was four.

Next door to them, the gray house with the deck and the long driveway, I was riding my bike one summer evening on a day we’d gone peach picking and a new family had just moved in but nobody had laid eyes on them yet.

The young mom was out there gardening next to the house and her four year old had wandered down towards the street to see who this new person might be. Her eyes were on the huge ripe peach in my hand and all that juice. (Not a great idea to eat one while riding a bike and I knew it but I was doing it.)

I asked her if she would like one. YES. I asked her to wait while I peddled back to my house and got another one for her. I was back to her in a flash but carefully instructed her, Now, you don’t know me yet so I’m still a stranger. Go ask your mommy first if you can have this.

She ran so fast!

Which is how I got to be their favorite babysitter on the spot.

That listing. I finally got to see the remodeling contractor’s finished work. It’s gorgeous.

And then I sent a note to the realtor, who called me and put me on the line with the buyer’s agent.

I told her, Looking at the pictures, there’s a new-to-me fence around the property. I don’t know if you know but that’s not the property line. We owned past the gully it’s looking down on and to a large tree on the other side in the backyard of the people on Cindy Lane who were behind us, and I have memories that my dad one day went rushing out there as they were pounding nails into it, demanding, Stop. That is MY tree, it’s not yours.


The gully wasn’t the property line?


The buyer’s agent listened to that with much interest and thanked me. I added, Now it could be an adverse taking thing, except that my parents didn’t leave until 2008, I believe it was, and Dad would never have let them. (2007, says the listing. Close.)

She thanked me–and I knew the person who’d connected us now had my email address (their site required it) if the buyer has any other questions. And Mom’s still alive to help out, for that matter.

Whoever out there has fallen in love with where we loved growing up, thank you for choosing our home and our neighborhood. You’re really going to love it there. Oh and: when Dad shoveled the driveway after a huge storm even though the roads were still closed and thought he was having a heart attack at 3 a.m. and the ambulance got there in four minutes? They’d put a snowplow blade on so they could get through.

Mom got to, for days, watch people thinking they could cut through the neighborhood by coming down that long steep hill, around the blind corner (where I once got hit by a car on my bike because we couldn’t see each other coming), find that it ended in their driveway and there was not so much as turn around space and they had to back up all the way up that steep snowy icy hill to the main road.

And then the teens next door, when they found out, forever after shoveled the folks’ driveway when it snowed, hoping not to get caught at it and refusing payment when they were.

Good times.

5 Comments so far
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The Colberts moved away when little Stevie was six, I think, and you didn’t mention that he was the youngest of 11. Which his bio probably says, but hey they were the largest family in our well-populated block. And okay, now I realize why that downstairs family room looks so big! And the woods are definitely not the density they were, and there didn’t use to be any fences in the neighborhood at all….

Comment by Marian 10.30.21 @ 10:57 pm

How neat! My childhood home no longer exists

Comment by Afton 10.31.21 @ 7:07 am

Way cool! My childhood home would probably fit in one of those bedrooms. 😀

Comment by Jayleen Hatmaker 10.31.21 @ 7:33 am

Ah, memory lane! Nothing like a good wander there.

Comment by ccr in MA 10.31.21 @ 11:11 am

Tripping down memory lane. I just sold my family home last year, it was kind of a wrench.

Comment by Sharon Stanger 10.31.21 @ 6:44 pm

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