My primary residence is in the Portland, Oregon area, but we have a place in northwest Montana as well. It's an oddly shaped house on six acres and change on the side of a mountain that looks out over the Kootenai River. We're lucky to have it.
It's been in the family for several years, first through my father-in-law, who bought it and spent summers there after he retired. The first time I ever spent there was in the winter of 2001. We were frequent visitors thereafter, especially when we moved from the midwest to Oregon in 2004. Mr. T and I became progressively more attached to the place, and when his father announced this summer that the place needed to be sold, we went into panic mode. He'd been talking about selling it for quite awhile, but backed off at the last minute every time.
Every time this game of chicken played out, we'd wipe the sweat off our foreheads in relief. He'd offered us the place before, but we simply couldn't afford it. Till this summer. I can't say it's financially easy, but we think of it as home, and where we ultimately want to live full-time. We'd rather drive old cars and have that place than drive new cars and not have it.
But that we even have such a choice underscores how many opportunities we've had in our lives -- and how deeply grateful we are for them. When I drive up the mountain and up the gravel drive, I'm still amazed at and thankful for my good fortune.
I dubbed the place Stinkbug Ranch in an e-mail to one of my dearest friends, telling her we'd finally closed on it. The moniker comes from the hordes of stinkbugs that descend on that part of the country every September. They congregate in orgiastic glory during those autumn weeks, presumably to mate and thereby propogate their species before they die an undignified death in the windowsills.
Every time we'd arrive at the house the week after Christmas, the first order of business would be to vacuum up the musty-smelling stinkbug carcasses.
It's funny to name such a beautiful, comforting homestead after one (and perhaps the only) undesirable characteristic. For me it shows how very little could diminish my pleasure in the place. A few dead bugs certainly couldn't do the job.