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Sometime in June it was decided that summer was barreling down on us in this space with few windows. And so it was time to move into the new cabin, even if we hadn’t finished it. One sweaty Friday Stewart and I lugged over mattresses and bedding with stragglers dragging carrying pillows and blankets behind us across the dirt and mulch pathway.

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While Stewart put together beds for us and the boys, I brought over essentials and mopped the floor – something I hadn’t done in 2.5 years. That night we threw the windows open and enjoyed the breeze while sleeping in a space with only four corners.

This is significant because the camper/cabin has 14 corners (yes, I counted) and after living there for a year or two, we dubbed it the hallway house.

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The new cabin has quite a few more features that are a step-up from our old space:

  • A door that does not have an internet pole directly in front of it because the installation crew didn’t realize that was our door. I understand; plywood doors do look like plywood walls.
  • Access to the sides of the bed. Our bed in our old cabin was placed inside a cove that was only accessible from the foot of the bed. Also a bonus in the new cabin is not having an office above the bed where a desk chair is perched atop the bed during the day.
  • Ten windows. There was one window and a hole in in the wall with a screen/shower door (depending on the season) in our old cabin. Not quite the same.
  • A floor that is level and atop a true foundation. This is in contrast to the floor in the old cabin that we hastily put up because “it was temporary” and so could take a man down if he wasn’t paying attention to the topography beneath his feet.
  • 100 more square feet. That doesn’t seem like much, but when you start with 300 square feet, it adds up quick.

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The first few days in the cabin I was overwhelmed. The space felt huge, in comparison, and I felt guilty and grateful and confused all at once. Even though I was willing to make this camper/cabin a home, even though I thought I was content with living in it for as long as we had, even though I knew we could live in that space forever if we really truly had to; I hadn’t ever really let go of the idea that it was temporary. Up until just a few months before we moved into the new cabin, I still looked at this first space we built as a stepping stone to something better, something more.

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And then, somewhere between starting the cabin and moving in, I dropped the one thing that seems to negate any gratitude or contentment I struggle with my flesh to have – expectations. Maybe it was the hullabaloo surrounding Ruth’s arrival or maybe it was watching Stewart turn a corner in his recovery from adrenal fatigue, but something I didn’t even recognize shifted.

And so, one June day Stewart said “I think we should move in this week,” and I said “Sounds good!”

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That Friday night, and the days that followed, I stared around 400 square feet with an open floor painted light blue. My husband walked around to his side of the bed freely and I watched our four children sink into their own little spaces and drift off to sleep. With the old cabin/camper now serving as kitchen and office space, it felt like we could stretch a little, sink in a little, breathe out a little.

That feeling I had that I couldn’t quite put my finger on… I think it was gratitude. And I don’t think I would have fully known that if it weren’t for 2.5 years surrounded by 14 corners… where our daughters were born, where our sons learned to read, and where their Mama learned to let go of expectations and gain some perspective.

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Last week, when thinking of the fall garden, I wondered where we would fit things like lima beans, onions, garlic, kale, beets, carrots and more. This week we’re in the triple digits and I am reminded not to worry. For three years now, our killing “frost” has come at the beginning of August when everything gets crispy and dry and wilts in the sun.

Despite the heat and the lack of rain, the beans keep producing, the squash are slowly trickling in, and even the tomatoes continue to provide garden snacks. Oh black eyed peas, you never disappoint. And that tatume squash, grown by natives because it can take the heat and the drought, it just keeps coming. But what really upped the ante this week and drew gasps and shreaks and little faces I wished I’d caught on camera, were the melons. The first ripe Kazakh melon has been picked and eaten in all of its sugary sweet and refreshing wonder.

Upon closer inspection, the boys have discovered at least two more that need picking tomorrow. What a joy to have been there when they planted the seeds, mulched the rows, to see their faces light up when they discover a ripe one, and then share with them in the eating of every morsel of yellow melon slice, the fruit of that work dripping down their chin.

It looks as though tomorrow will be an early morning in the garden in order to beat the heat. There are beans and okra and squash to pick and water, and I know we’ll have a few helpers looking for ripe melons.

Oh, and if I shell black-eyed peas with a quart of (unsweet) tea at my side, does that mean I’m finally becoming a southerner?