And not just any old A-Frame.
In 1963 my father’s parents, Chuck and Ruth, bought 6 acres of woods on a dirt road in a tiny town with no zip code in southern New Hampshire. On it they built a kit A-Frame ordered from a catalog with the help of my father and family friends. They used it as a summer camp and a sort of homebase while they served in the Peace Corps through the 70’s. In the 80’s it was their summer home; winters they spent in Barbados.
At some point they purchased 35 acres across the street; a little hill. When my mom, a rabid homesteader, met my dad in the early 70’s she encouraged him to move onto that land, and he’s been there ever since. My mom and I moved to Western Massachusetts in 1976.
I grew up seeing my dad on weekends. My mom would drive half way up and my dad would drive half way down (more than half way if you ask him) to do their kid exchange. We would hang out in his off-the-grid, unplumbed, pump-your-own-water, use-an-outhouse house and visit my grandparents across the street in the evenings. I thought our little family hill was heaven. My grandmother's mac and cheese and the game of Dominoes remain very dear to my heart. My father was, at the time, a consummate bachelor, and I think he relied on my grandmother’s hot meals to keep me well fed while his propane fridge housed only liverwurst and Budweiser.
When my grandfather died in 1991 I was a surly teenager and had stopped my visits to the A-Frame years before. My grandmother, age 74 at the time, kept up their routine of summer in NH and winter in Barbados until she was unable. She settled into, and still lives in, a one-room apartment in a neighboring town. Up until a few years ago she would have my father drive her over to the A-Frame to sit on the porch, dry her clothes in the sun, and remember her life with my grandfather.
Eventually, she gave the A-Frame to my father and his two sisters. They paid property tax (New Hampshire property tax) as it sat through the seasons, becoming more and more attractive to small mammals and decay. This past year I began to take an interest in it, and got it stuck in my head that my husband-like boyfriend Matthew and I should buy it. When my father called to say that his oldest friend from elementary school was interested in buying it, I panicked and became set upon making sure it stayed in our family, and when I get set on something you do not want to get in my way. Matthew knows this, and didn't, and that is one of the many reasons why I love him so much.
In late June of this year we closed on the A-Frame. This section of Small Victories is our journal of it’s restoration, which will include deep thoughts on family and history and legacy and oblivion, as well as a lot of mouse poop. And unexpected ant colonies.
Here is a little video we made when we were thinking about buying the A-Frame.