The house shop

7 November 2016


We visited the house shop today. OK, so maybe it was the Sallies version of a house shop.

The houses were waiting like stray puppies at the SPCA, propped up from the gravel on made-with-haste wooden stilts.

On the way, mama and papa and I talked about the house we had found online. It had character. We also talked about me.

It’s my birthday today. Today, I’m 26 years old. That means that twenty years ago, I was six, and me and my siblings were being whispered awake in the wee hours of the morning to watch our new house (the first house to be truly ours) get loaded onto trucks in three creaking pieces, and driven through the empty night roads out into the country, the mighty Waikato.

Mama and papa had bought a single thistle-scarred acre, nestled in the side of a valley flush with rivers, trees and deep limestone caves.

That acre was so bare.

The three pieces were eased onto the wooden undergarments of our new-old house. Around it, a thick moat of sticky clay from the earthworks. Around that, just grass. And thistles.

Over the next five months, and in-between constructing elaborate LEGO treehuts and pirate ships, I watched mama and papa transform a husk of house into a warm-blooded home.

That was when I first knew I wanted to ‘do a house’ one day, when I was grown up.

Ten years later, the trees we grew from acorns were dropping their own acorns and our home had an orchard and golden fish in the pond and chickens and lambs and a real treehut for club meetings.

Well, now it’s twenty years later. Am I grown up enough? Yes, and no. But for some reason, mama and papa and I have got the itch again, to take exhausted wood and make it glow, once more.

So, today, we went to the Sallies of house shops.

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