In early 2011, living on a small hobby farm was only a dream Amber and I had. We were knee-deep in the recession and at the tail end of a three-year long run of flipping houses. This was already a risky business and profit margins were shrinking on each property we turned so we knew this season was coming to an end.
Seasons of life are funny that way, sometimes we’re ready for the change and other times we fight it to the bitter end, but like summer gives way to Fall, seasons change regardless. And, like here in Arizona, sometimes the change is so subtle we don’t appreciate the season we’re in until it’s all but gone. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote “Each moment of the year has its own beauty” and I think that applies to the seasons of life as well.
We had not purchased a property for some time but when a small house with and acre and a half of land just two miles south of our home came to auction, I was excited. I did not want the “house flipping season” to end and was determined to do one more deal despite the inherent risks. Amber on the other hand, had reservations to say the least.
On auction day, after a small bidding war, we secured the property and it was ours. I know Am felt very uneasy about our new investment but I was excited to take her down the street to check it out. My thought was we would be in and out in a few short weeks, make a nice profit and be done. Not only did Amber not do the “happy dance” with me to celebrate, she would not even ride with me to see inside the house for the first time.
I had only drove by this home one time before the sale and as I pulled into the drive, alone mind you, it was clear it had been empty and neglected for some time. After finding an open door and walking the plain and slightly strange floor plan, I thought, “dang! Amber was right again.” That was until I made my way to the back yard.
As I walked the perimeter fence to get an idea of the layout of the lot, all I could see was poplar trees. I did not see the dead grass, the green pool and the junk left by the previous owners. No, I only saw the big green 40′ tall poplar trees that lined the property gently blowing in the hot summer breeze.
Those trees spoke to me and I soon knew this would be home. I wish I could say those trees whispered something to Amber, but that took time, and a new kitchen. But over the years they have won her over as well. We nick named our little farm “Poplar Flat and have literally raised our kids in the shade of those trees over the last eight years. Hours and hours of family time spent playing sports, feeding baby goats and entertaining friends and family. The wall of shade they create in the afternoon from the harsh Arizona sun is priceless and they sound so cool when the wind blows.
Poplar trees have a down side as well. They are susceptible to disease and we have lost some over the years. They also drop all their leaves in the winter almost completely covering the backyard in a blanket. But even this has been a blessing. Just as memorable as our time spent playing has been our time working as a family under those trees. Cutting wood and raking leaves not only has taught work ethic but gave us that much more quality time together. The kids will always remember, and I believe fondly, raking leaves and the bribes of Polar pops we would offer when the job was done.
As our two oldest kids have left or are leaving home I realize that was a season I took for granted and will miss. I would give anything to have them all little for a day working in the yard, but also appreciate the season of life they are in.
Our two youngest are hard workers so I don’t see a landscapers in our future yet, But Like the leaves of the poplar tree in late December, my work force will continue to dwindle, and, Amber and I will have to let them all go eventually. Yes, they will come home now and then and that will be sweet, but that too, will be a different season.
Its funny, I used to think those last brown leaves way up high in the poplars in late winter were holding onto the tree. I have come to learn it’s probably the tree holding on tight to those last leaves, not quite ready to face the new season that will inevitability come. I know if I can learn to let go of a passing season, I will be better prepared to embrace the new and all it has to offer.