Driving past, you wouldn’t know it. From the road, it’s an innocent picture; idyllic, even, that plain, white farmhouse surrounded by trees, garage tucked in on the back side.
On the slab, there’s a basketball hoop, the first thing that hints at the residents of the place. This is overshadowed by a large, spreading maple from which hangs two swings – an ancient tire swing and a horse swing fashioned from a tire. To the left, when one wanders back, there stands a swing set with a canopied tree house, and to the left of that, a sizable garden, freshly planted.
Further on, one notes an old, red barn with what appears to be an addition. To the right of it stands a chicken coop that looks to be undergoing a paint job. It is.
Behind the buildings, then, spreads a large section of pasture land that rolls all the way back to a fence. Beyond it lies a field. Trees rim the fence, marching up and down in a three-sided, leafy-green battalion.
If one passes during the summertime, he or she would note a white picnic table, positioned just there beneath the big, green maple. Somewhere close by, there’s a trampoline, which may or may not be filled with wriggly, jumping pairs of legs. Shouts and hoots accompany this activity, and the neighborhood rings with the sound of – well, a certain kind of music.
The large, sprawling tent over there evokes Huck and Finn. Says ‘adventure’ and ‘fun.’ Speaks to boyhood and the freedom of a summer vacation, to the carefree-ness of a childhood in the country.
As if that weren’t enough, the fire pit by the coop hints at late-night campfires; of cookouts and S’Mores. Of family and friends gathering round in lawn chairs, talking and laughing in the gloaming as frogs croak deep in the pond next door.
All the signs say that it’s a family place. That lots of living happens here. The assortment of bikes, scooters, tricycles, and Cozy Coupes parked haphazard beneath the lean-to all murmur the same message: this is a place for kids. And their parents.
That’s us. And that’s our three acres. What a grand and glorious day it was when we moved from a town-sized lot right around the corner to this lovely little piece of Heaven. Our refuge. That’s what it is.
Actually, I’ve come to think of it as a wild-life refuge, thanks to the other creatures that have shown up lately. The squirrels have taken over, darting rocket like from tree to tree. A family of raccoons have moved in, and the rabbits are apparently – well, doing their ‘rabbit’ thing, proliferative little boogers that they are, ’cause they’re everywhere, too. Then there’s the cardinal seen flitting around, and all those boys…
Those boys. You know ’em. The ones that practice shooting arrows in the back yard. Who light bottle rockets and firecrackers just to shake things up. Who pound each other on the trampoline, and who are eating us straight out of house and home.
“We’re out of Miracle, Mom,” Little Schrock announced the other night, spooning up red Jell-O at the dining room table. Yes, actually, we were scraping the bottom of the Miracle Whip jar. And the Hellman’s. And the mustard. And the ketchup. And the Sweet Baby Ray’s, which Someone had reported seeing on Someone Else’s popcorn. Go figure.
We are out of “Miracle,” and we could use a few around here, for it really is a wild life on The Three. I could use a miracle or ten today; miracles in patience, wisdom and endurance as school lets out now and summer begins. I’ll need a miracle to make this a refuge for all my “wild life.”
Rhonda Schrock lives in Northern Indiana with her husband and 4 sons, ages 22, 18, 13, and 5. By day, she is a telecommuting medical transcriptionist. In the early morning hours, she flees to a local coffee shop where she pens “Grounds for Insanity,” a weekly column that appears in The Goshen News. She is an occasional guest columnist in The Hutch News. She’s also blogged professionally for her son’s school of choice, Bethel College, in addition to humor and parenting blogs, and maintains her personal blog, “The Natives are Getting Restless.” She is a writer and editor for the magazine, “Cooking & Such: Adventures in Plain Living.” She survives and thrives on prayer, mochas, and books.