It's official: the for-sale sign goes up tomorrow. Creek House and Treehouse, the cozy, beautiful, and super-energy-efficient buildings I helped design and build, the place I imagined would be my forever home, are on the market.
Why? Not because I don't love my complex bordering the stretch of urban creek I've spent 20 years restoring: I do. Coming home to the sound of the creek gurgling past, the sight of hummingbirds zipping from wildflower to wildflower in the front and side meadows, to the taste of ripe tomatoes picked from the lush vines in the stock-tank planter on the front deck, to the feel of sun-warmed rooms and the smell of cottonwood leaves drying in drifts under Ruby's Tree in the fall never fails to lift my spirits and fill my heart.
(Richard and I planted Ruby's Tree, the cottonwood tree on the left edge of the photo at the top of the post and the tree for which Treehouse is named, 19 years ago in memory of his Aunt Ruby, who loved to sit and fish in the shade of a cottonwood on her Arkansas farm. A sapling on a weedy vacant lot then, Ruby's tree is now so big that my two hands reach only halfway around the trunk, and is tall enough to cast a pool of shade over the second-story studio. Guests often comment about how restful the rustling leaves are on a hot summer day, echoing the sound of the creek.)
The Arkansas Hills from the Creek House front deck
I love the view of the Arkansas Hills across the river from both the house and the front deck, my three-season living room. I love watching the sunsets over the Sawatch Range and the Sangre de Cristos from the second-floor deck at Treehouse. I love the outdoor dining patio I finished this summer in the shade of Treehouse, and my meadows, especially the "thinking meadow" outside my office with its glorious red flashes of Indian paintbrush, gold and red blanketflower, pink snapdragon penstemon, and the young plum tree that will someday provide shade.
The wildflower-freckled north meadow with my "thinking chair" under the plum tree
I love the light-filled interior of both houses, the way the sun warms the rooms in winter, and the place stays shady and cool in summer. I love the colors on the walls, the smooth concrete floors, the ash cabinetry, the luxurious bathtub in the bathroom; I love my little workshop with its south-facing windows that light and heat the space, and the plant-bench where I nurture tomato and basil seedlings in winter.
The kitchen end of the "great room"
If I love the place so much, why I am I selling it? I wrote about my decision last month.
It comes down to this: Salida was a wonderful home for Richard, Molly and me. Now that he's gone and Molly's making her life in San Francisco, it's just me, and after nearly five years alone, I feel the pull of the home I knew before I met Richard and Molly.
The Bighorn Basin south of Cody with Heart Mountain rising over the highway
I'm returning to northwest Wyoming, specifically to Cody, the place that has held my heart since I was in grade school and first saw the Bighorn Basin and Heart Mountain on the way to Yellowstone with my family. Those spare, rumpled landscapes, home to soaring golden eagles and fleet pronghorn, redolent of sagebrush, took my breath away then and still do.
So if you or someone you know has a yen for a place in Salida that's cozy and beautiful, sustainably built and landscaped with a whole lot of love and care, and in walking distance of the river and whitewater park, downtown and its galleries, shops and restaurants; and is on the town trail system with access to hundreds of miles of mountain trails, call Kathleen Nelson at Colorado Mountain Realty.
I know someone's going to love the place. I wish whoever it is the joy of wildflowers, hummingbirds, sun-warmed rooms and creek-song for years to come.