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An Ordinary Sunday

by Tara

It’s a grey, snowless day, and we’re warm and cozy inside our little house, preparing for our very first guests. Sure, we've had friends and family over to see our progress, and we've had folks here to help, but this morning, Rick and Greer are coming over for tea. This small, exquisitely ordinary action of welcoming friends into Tyler's and my very own home, is one for which I've been yearning for years.

Tyler coaxes a fire to life in the wood stove and begins tidying the house. He collects our many tools and building materials and relegates them to a (large) corner of the house, reclaiming our window seats for actual sitting. He moves a stack of sheet goods (plywood) that has lived by the door for ages, to a less noticeable spot. The scraps we no longer need he ferries down to the solar shed. Meanwhile, I head to the kitchen.

After lighting a few candles to cheer the dreary day, I begin measuring flour, butter, and sugar for a batch of pecan-studded cranberry orange scones. Mixing the dough gently with my hands, I feel as though a suffocating mask has been removed from my face. Finally, finally, I can do what I love; I can do what comes naturally to me, as opposed to what is difficult. There is no struggle now, no steep learning curve, I can breathe easily. I feel immensely happy in our kitchen—very capable and confident.

I am also struck by the beauty of our surroundings. It's as though I've had my head down for so many months, building, building, building, and now I'm finally able to look up and cast an eye on what we've created. This kitchen is a space we've designed and built, a fact for which my heart now swells with pride. It's not completely finished, but it's done enough to enjoy.

The kitchen window, illuminated by dull grey daylight, is breathtakingly beautiful. There's something about its wide sill and the gently curving plaster that makes me feel as if we live in a painting from another time. While the scones are baking, I wash the dishes in our big farmhouse sink, reveling in sensation of warm water on my skin. The sink is a joy to work in, water splashing against its soft pearlescent fireclay sides.

The Milkmaid (Johannes Vermeer)

Soon, our house is clean and the scones are baked to a golden brown. I put my new, cheerful, cherry red kettle on the stove to boil (thank you for the Christmas gift, Jodi!) and get out my box of teabags. The box itself was made by a great-uncle of mine. It's been in storage for years, but I unearthed it a few days ago. Tyler and I are ready just in time. I go out to meet our friends, walking up the hill with them as they admire the mossy stone wall that surrounds our land, and the shifting fog against our blue mountain views.

The window seat is cleared off and comfy, and big enough for both Greer and I to sit on comfortably. Rick takes the recliner I inherited from my grandmother, while Tyler pulls up a walkstool. And we sit and chat, laughing and drinking tea and eating eat scones and blueberry muffins (thank you, Greer!). They talk excitedly about their favorite features of the house, and we, too, are struck by the beauty—it looks amazing without tools everywhere! Everything is neat and tidy and feels brand new.

After a few hours of companionable visiting, Rick and Greer say their goodbyes. And once they leave, we do something exquisitely normal, something we've been longing to do for ages: enjoy a weekend day, puttering around, reading by the wood stove, doing next to nothing. Later in the evening, we head out to Home Depot, which we laugh is just for "old time's sake."

It's a quick little trip to pick up a few minor things, and we're among other couples, meandering the aisles, holding hands, tackling some relatively small DIY project for the weekend. We've graduated from the lumber and sheet goods area to something comparatively quaint: the light bulb and housewares section. When we've made our purchases, we come back home to our little house, eat homemade chicken soup for dinner, and all is so very, very right with the world.