Thursday, October 20, 2011

Maple Cottage

Last weekend there was a lady stopped on the street, car running, staring at our house tears running down her cheeks.  I asked her what was wrong and if she needed help.  She said that she had wonderful memories of visiting her aunt as a child - her aunt used to live in our house many decades ago. I invited her in but she smiled and said perhaps another time...I think she was a bit embarrassed that I'd noticed her but I'd have loved to have heard her stories and have her share some memories of our little cottage...

Although Maple Cottage needs a fair bit of restoration work, a new roof, foundations to be fixed as she is sloping now, asbestos concrete removed etc she really is a grand lady, I imagine her cosily sharing in our conversations, watching over us kindly, giving friendly advice about child rearing...I imagine her as a quirky, cool funky and well read grandma with a lovely blue rinse in her hair, sparkle in her eyes and great shoes.  Always surrounded by friends and family.

When we first moved in we had a family of tawny frogmouths in our front garden living in the paper bark - can you spot both mum and baby in the second photo below?

...and a nest in the backyard where a mummy bird would come, rest then head off to grab a drink for 5 seconds before returning to settle on her nest.

Maple Cottage is nearly 100 years old.  She is an old double brick californian bungalow.  We are her fourth owner, everyone who has lived here has stayed at least 30 years before retiring to the sea or to the country.

About a month after we moved in (after pulling up carpet, sanding floors, painting everything white, scrubbed out the fireplaces, etc - see pics on this old blog long forgotten ready to resurrect once we embark on our grand renovation plans whenever that may be) we received a lovely letter in the post.  It was from a complete stranger who used to live here when the house was built, she found the old house plans in her aunt's estate when her aunt passed away and sent the plans to us thinking that 'whoever now lives here will find them interesting'.

Her letter spoke of an unmade street where rainboots were left at street corners for stepping into on the way home and a little mini river crossing the street.  That creek has since gone and is now parkland.

I often wonder about the people who have lived here, how much they have loved this home and I can feel the lovely house around me smiling each time I give her a bit of loving care and fix this or fix that.


  1. That is so lovely Mrs B! It must feel good to know that your house has happy memories within its walls!
    I can totally identify with your desire to be true to the house and respect it. I feel the same way about my little cottage, who seems to have been very unloved unlike your gorgeous Maple Cottage!

  2. What a shame the the lady didn't come think of all her story's she could have shared.

  3. What a lovely post. I do hope the lady visits you some day. How thoughtfulto send you the house plans. I would dearly love to know more about the history of our home and the people who lived here. I amuse myself by making up the odd story :)

  4. How lovely to have a little bit of history about your house. What a surprise it must've been to open that envelope and find your house plans inside.
    Shame the lady didn't stop and have a chat.........maybe one day.

    The tawny Frog Mouths are well camouflaged in the tree, but I can just pick them out....I think.
    All the best for the party on the weekend, hope it's lovely weather and everyone has a great day particularly the birthday girl..........

    Claire :}

  5. I love how much you love your house, matches my love for my Besty - also a california bungalow, just weatherboard for Brisbane instead of brick. I LOVED looking at all your reno photos- so inspiring for me as it is all happening so slowly at my place but I can see how great she will look when it's done. your house definitely needs a name and she is looking mighty fabulous, I love your use of colour and white walls- very similar to my tastes. melx

  6. Thanks everyone :)

    Phoebe, your home is lovely! Your garden is sooooo gorgeous, my kinda place!

    Greenthumb, I'd love to hear her stories about the place.

    Sarah I was so thrilled to get the plans and the old letter in the mail :)

    Claire thanks for the wishes, I'm scared!! 30 grade 1 children...argh!!

    Mel, I love white. I've love a bit of colour too but white just centres me and brings me calm I find. You're right she does need a name, at first we thought Iris but it didn't quite fit and now she's just out maple cottage! Your place is coming along really well and looks beautiful, she'll be stunning when you're done. Although it's never really done is it! Always something to do...for us it's our roof always leaking, tiles are so old and fragile that you break more trying to fix one so we just have buckets around the house to catch leaks when heavy rain is due !

  7. How lovely to keep adding to your knowledge of the old house's history! I hope to be doing that with mine as I settle into it.

  8. I love knowing the history of a home..The man that built this home only recently passed away but 2 years ago he stopped by and told us alsorts of wonderful history

  9. what a sweet story, i like to read story like that.
    i think someone happyly living in the house probably made her happy.

  10. OMG, that is soooo spooky, you and I must have been in totally the same zone on Thursday. Isn't it funny how worlds can collide in that way. Beautiful story, it really is lovely to remember the past!

  11. Sweet post! Your family will have many happy memories too!


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