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It’s been raining like clockwork — as in spring forward brings spring showers brings Spring indeed.  The lawn is greening, perennials are pushing through soil, bulbs are blooming — or swelling and swooning with bud — while shrubs and trees attempt to steal the lime-light wearing their best feathery green fringe.  Not just in name, Spring is truly here.

What difference a year can bring.

After last year’s drought, I can’t imagine ever regarding rainfall as anything other than the miracle it is.  These days, when I hear the first pinging upon roof vents, everything else gives way.  I can think of nothing better to do than peek out windows and doorways to watch drops of all sizes hit hard scape like a dart board. Dot. Dot. Dot.  The single circles of sound dissolve into a symphony of crackling static; random raindrops swirl to spill liquid, coloring outside of their lines to cover every speck of visible surface.  When it reaches ground, it finally smells like rain — that inexplicably sweet, dampened earth mixed around seed and root that transforms a garden into a dwelling of possibilities.

It’s hard not to look outside without thinking about the changes this small urban property has seen in the last twelve months.  Yesterday marked one-year of ownership.  I no longer think about that uprooting from Mesta Park or the reasons that spurred our twenty block migration north. And while it’s true my bad knee needed a one-story home, I now like to think that this 1950s California Ranch needed me too.

By the time we closed on the purchase, this property had been through a bit of a drought too;  its owners had moved away to greener pastures long before selling it.  And though the house was never ugly to my eye, others didn’t share my opinion.  Why even at first glance, my own dear sister wanted to know what I was going TO DO about those front porch shrubs.  Like every other shrub planted without rhyme or repetition, these were starched crisp at attention in military crew-cut formation…and less I forget, my ‘meet and greet’ plantings were a mismatched set of Mutt and Jeff.

Before - Southwest Elevation

After - Southwest Elevation

To say the house didn’t ‘show well’ perhaps explains why it languished on the market for a year before we came along.  To borrow words of one new neighbor — the same who walks by my house everyday, just to track the transformations taking place — it had a bad case of the blahs when she saw it during ‘open house.’

After - Southwest Elevation - Closer Perspective

No one says that anymore.

After - Looking Southwest from Front Porch

The all too-many-to-recount changes were created through good, old-fashioned elbow grease — what I once thought my grandmother kept under her kitchen sink —  during the worst drought I’ve ever experienced.

Before - Southeast Elevation

Some changes were subtle while others were expansive.  Yet all were important.  And if I were to do it all again — heaven help me —  I’m not sure what I’d do different.  At least, that’s MY story.  Which is not to say this place is perfect or ever will be.

After - Southeast Elevation

But I’ll crawl out on one of my green-leafed limbs to say it’s perfect enough — perfect enough to last me the rest of my life.  And though I can’t point a finger at the reasons why, I know that the gifts of renewal I’ve showered upon this place have somehow strengthened me too.

We’ve bonded, this house and me, project by messy project.

Why to say this place feels as right as rain, after a long hard drought means something to me this year that it didn’t last.  It means I’m home, darling, in a way that has nothing to do with labels.

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