When I moved in, one of the first things I did was put up a tire swing on the big birch tree in the front yard. The kids came shortly after, to run in the yard and swing and yell, sometimes too early on a Saturday morning.
Casa Del Fuego was my way of making the home fires burn on my own terms. I used the place as a giant learning laboratory around home repair and created a crazy, somewhat arty way of ambiance with the various forms of random objects gathered or found. I was excited to reclaim broken concrete from sidewalk removal to fill in a sandy spot, or integrate the random piece of driftwood into the garden. Little things piled up like cairns for the wayfarer, the rocks I snuck back on planes and boats from the wild places and the eclectic collection of toys, decorations and other found objects that mesmerize children when they arrive.
The beings who came for a while all brought something to the mix. 35 people. 16 pets. With each new person’s arrival, there was an orientation often shared over a cup of peppermint tea. Learning bit about the person’s story, the articulation of the cast iron pan rule. One or two kept coming back on a seasonal basis. Some housemates came with drama. Frankie’s owner, who came to Alaska after hooking up with a guy from Anchorage via Match.com, and then realized she was pregnant. Or Jason, steeped in his own depression on the failure of his marriage with his son, who unexpectedly arrived in the middle of the night, telling me about the incident at his mother’s house as I coached him on when to flip the pancake. Or Jasmine, spiraling into a fire- twirling fueled junket to Burning Man even as she owed me some rent.
More often, there were random connections that reinforced the mycelia network of progressive, outdoorsly people who happen upon Spenard, arrived to the door and said, “This place is great.” People I found on Craigslist who moved in, then found out they had connections to previous housemates or friends of friends, and became my friend. The abundant kindness and contributions over the years; I find myself brimming over with the gifts that come when you are willing to risk and receptive to the power of authentic human spirit. Today, l found the last of Chilidog’s shedding coat, swept up after the couch finally moved out of the living room. My patient friend and devoted companion, acting as the rock amidst the changes over the years, I scratch your hip bones as you lean into my leg with pleasure.
Today marked the day when one stage of my life ended. I felt I had to rent the place on a two year lease, mostly because if I sold it—I wouldn’t have anywhere to store the skis, the art or the books and journals of years gone by. I’ve put the embers of Casa Del Fuego in a leather pouch, stored them safely for the journey ahead. When the time is right, I can prepare a little spot and reignite. Hang a sign that says, “come play in my yard”. Plant perennial seeds and see what happens. Find a new set of projects to do. Happenstance upon a network and settle in for a while somewhere else.