a house is not a home

I’m happy to say it’s raining. It won’t be so hard to leave this lovely lake and retreat, although I do love rain in a cottage,cabin, whatever. I didn’t tell you that my son-in-law, Jonathan, built this darling place.  He did a great job.  I was reminded of Witold Rybsczynski, the Canadian American architect (1943) whose first book, Home (1986) I loved and still own. He has written a number of books, humanist, lay mediations on aspects of architecture and he has won many prizes. But the book I have been thinking of while staying here in Jonathan’s house is an early one called The Most Beautiful House in the World (1990) about the house Rybsczyynski built himself. I’m going to find a copy to give to Jonathan. 

Publishers Weekly reviewed the book calling it a delightful ramble through the creative process.  And Library Journal summed it up:  “Young architect decides to build boat, needs boat house to work in, ends up years later with country place and no boat, and meditates thereon.”  It’s “an extended reflection on the meaning of a house to its inhabitants”.  

Jonathan always intended to build a summer place, beginning with an A-frame with two sleeping lofts. It’s now the ell in the finished place, still very comfortable.  I sit and gaze around at the attractive, practical construction that he did all by himself and I marvel at it and him.  It must feel wonderful to have conceived, planned and built the house one lives in.  I can’t imagine what it feels like.  I think of our early pioneers who did it all with maybe an axe and the forest primeval (or some scrub trees) to work with.  Awesome. God bless Jonathan’s house.

The closest I ever come to coping with nature is when I water the back forty on my balcony.  Speaking of which, I wonder if my plants have died in my absence.They’ve had a hard, hot summer, and I fear one watering by a kindly neighbour is not going to be enough for them.  Oh dear.

Always something.