With Steph two nearly two years into her new job, it is time for us to leave one house and shift our basecamp to another. Our realtor asked me to write a ‘paragraph of love’ about our current place. By now, you’ve learned at least one thing about me: when I start typing, I type until my fingers bleed. Here’s that paragraph, and all the others.
Serenity & Solitude, Available Soon
1574 Kleinfeltersville Road, Stevens, PA 17578
©John R. Gooding, 2019
The house at 1574 Kleinfeltersville Road, should it become your fortunate home, offers the serenity and solitude that most of the world pays extra for when they go on vacation for a week to escape the hustle & bustle of daily life. If you live here, you might need to spend an annual week in the big city so you can return to a full appreciation of life in this slower place.
Begin your morning with a cappuccino at dawn, watching through the dining room windows as the first birds flock to the feeding stations arrayed by the front porch. You’ll see the usual suspects: juncos, chickadees, sparrows, cardinals, hairy & downy woodpeckers, the wrens which nest in the hanging flower baskets all summer, the contented doves, and the jeweled hummingbirds. As the days warm in March, you’ll hear spring peepers singing from the vernal pools. If you know your birds, or learn them flipping through Sibley or Peterson, you’ll spot kingbirds & gnat catchers, towhees, meadowlarks, rose breasted grosbeaks, finches gold & purple, scarlet tanagers, brown creepers, bluebirds, indigo buntings, orioles, sapsuckers, and so many more you’ll lose count unless you compile a list. Don’t be shocked when a massive Pileated Woodpecker swoops to the nearest suet feeder, cackling and calling its mate: there is a nesting pair in these woods. Beyond the feeding stations you’ll see wild turkeys, great blue herons, woodcock, several varieties of hawk, and flights of swans and geese – Snows & Canadas – overhead during the famous spring migrations. If you walk a dog late at night or well before dawn, you’ll hear the low hooting of Great Horned Owls, and often smaller owls, too.
1574 is a family house, with room for everyone, and all their hobbies, all their gear. Perhaps even all their work, if someone in the household is employed as a craftsman (or craftswoman) or artist. There are five bedrooms upstairs, a spacious master suite plus four rooms suitable for children or guests. Within the house there are four full baths and a powder room; three of the full baths are upstairs with the bedrooms – the master bath, then one each for the neater ladies and the, possibly, less-neat gentlemen. Also upstairs you’ll discover a central, open room with cherry floors which had been decorated with vintage barrister bookcases, two library tables, and several comfortable chairs – shhh, this is the place where the bookworms curl up surrounded by the tales gifted them by the great writers of the world. Next to this bookish space is the room for the creatives, call it what you will: the homeschool room, the studio, the atelier. This space has travertine floors, a granite-topped sink for washing out brushes, floor space for an easel, and two walls with windows for inspired woodland viewing, and for light. One large closet in the art room stores canvases and all the other supplies a creative person could want; another walk-in closet off the library served as a ‘camping closet’ for backpacks, sleeping bags, and all that sort of adventurous gear. This top floor of 1574 is the place where, most often, solitude or quiet company is sought: in a bedroom, in the library, or in the studio.
Down on the first floor you’ll have trouble choosing a favorite room if you prefer boisterous company. There’s a family room for a TV – ditch the cable, watch Shakespeare on DVD. But, better, there’s a fire room, a long room with a short bar, access to the back screen porch, and, centered, its most critical, heating, element: a cast iron & soapstone woodstove. In winters, this is the room for reading or playing checkers by the fire. Move to the next room, a nice-looking hard-use room, and call it what you like: the animal room, ideal with its tiled floor for dogs, birds, fish, and more; the plant room – perfect place, if you start your garden from seeds under light trays, to raise the beginnings of a lush harvest; the sun room, if you want to arrange orchids on the extra deep windowsills and settle into a rocking chair to appreciate their lavish blossoms. From any of these three rooms (family room, fire room, sun room), or from the dining room, or from the garage entry hall, you can walk into the central kitchen. Food & family. The kitchen is the most popular room in all the house if you count the waking hours spent there. This kitchen was custom built, with cupboards and deep pantry cabinets crafted from re-claimed barnwood. The kitchen features an easily cleaned tile floor, which flows into an eating area. In the kitchen are beautiful and practical black granite counters and an oversized island top, also of black granite. The lady of the house was an amateur chef and this kitchen features the space to fold dough for 81-layer croissants, or to work up a hunter’s dinner of roast pheasant, or to set out a family feast on holidays. The island is so large that there were often three or four kids, and a parent or two, whipping up batches of Christmas cookies here, or making pumpkin pies from scratch using longnecks harvested from the raised bed garden. Beyond all these rooms on the first floor, there’s the powder room, the laundry, and a home office with doors to conveniently mask an occasionally untidy desk.
Step from the kitchen into the garage and you’ll find it capacious, with ceilings high enough to store canoes or kayaks overhead, to mount a wall full of bicycles, to keep a deep freeze for the family, and to store bird food for the feathered friends. There are two bays in the main garage, each with a separate door. Adjacent to the main garage is a third bay, which could be converted to garage space. Currently this semi-finished room is set up as a wood shop – the former owner made bamboo fly rods & traditional agate guides here, full time. The shop features brilliant lighting as well as both 120v & 220v power, so you can run more powerful shop tools if needed.
Outside are nearly five acres to explore, and thousands and thousands more if you step across the stocked trout stream and into the state gamelands & adjoining Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area – there are many local hiking trails to travel if you wander far. And this boundary brook, the Middle Creek, is an angler’s fantasy, casting for trout mid-stream or from the private bank with a fly or lure – this bank affords possession of the truest treasure: leisure hours, well spent. If, however, you wander near, the gently sloping property of 1574 has a large chicken coop, which could also be used a secondary garden shed; attached to the coop is a chicken run long enough to host a mixed flock of two dozen or more chickens, ducks, and guinea fowl. Below the coop & run is a tiered garden. Each tier is stepped off with large boulders from the property, and each level of the garden is blocked off into manageable little beds with stone edging. The soil in each bed is deep, fertile, and well amended from years of use – so soft and appealing that you must be careful in the spring not to disturb the occasional nest of box turtle eggs. Below the garden is the outdoor entertainment plateau – not formal, as you might find in a toney neighborhood, but rustic – with soft seating in the grass and the moss spreading beneath the adjacent redbud tree. There is a wide, deep, fire pit where you can safely light a raging fire that will warm the area on cool fall nights while the family gathers around the smaller fire circle to cook their dinners over the glowing coals using hotdog forks or mountain pie makers. Set up a picnic table or, if you prefer, break out the folding chairs for a night of woodland cookery with family and friends. Down from the fires you’ll find a sizeable shed with loft space. Store your lawn mower, garden tractor, trailer, plant-light racks, and all your other gardening and yard tools here – and sleds…a perfectly sloped driveway descends for winter sledding!
If you keep ducks, they’ll appreciate the little frog pond for frolicking baths. If you don’t keep ducks but have inquisitive little kids, they’ll love watching the amphibian egg masses hatch into tadpoles, then the tadpoles will grow up into at least five varieties of frogs & toads. If you train them to be amateur naturalists – your children not the frogs – they’ll find much more than frogs on the property….turtles, salamanders, butterflies (swallowtails, fritillaries, painted ladies), moths (including the broad-winged lunas), preying mantis, the many birds mentioned elsewhere, and a plethora of native mammals: deer, fox, mink, weasels, shrews, rabbits, gray squirrels, chipmunks, even flying squirrels if they’re lucky! And if you teach them well which fruits are safe to eat, this property is an Eden, both naturally and by design. In the tangled woodland edge are wild raspberries and blackberries to harvest, and hickory nuts which drop from overhead. In the managed portion of the yard you’ll find a landscaping of fruit and nut trees (prolific Asian pears, several varieties of apples, English walnuts, quince, and others), and fruiting bushes, too, including blueberries, gooseberries, and currants red & black. Before you re-landscape, watch the yard for a full year to see what blooms, the many redbuds, the magnolias, the wisteria, the hydrangea, the spring bulbs and summer daylilies, and the many trees and shrubs which offer an edible harvest, for your family and the local wildlife. When the leaves are up, 1574 is entirely secluded!
After you’ve toured the yard, step back into house through the basement. One flank of this walk-out basement is a finished workout room, partly floored with bonded rubber mats – ready, set, go if you have a treadmill and an ellipticizer. Formerly, the exercise room served as a rumpus room for rambunctious little children – it’s where the wild things were bouncing & tumbling. Move to center and you’ll find a fully finished full bathroom, and plenty of additional space to add an in-law apartment in this middle basement, should you choose. Or keep it just for storage. Continue past the middle basement and the other walk-out flank of the basement, partly finished, served the former owner’s business as an inventory room and office, but it would make a man-cave of epic proportions, or configure it as a spacious wine-cave with a tasting room that spills out onto a backyard patio of your own design. Your friends may never leave. Immense potential, if you’re creative and hardworking.
Head back upstairs and instead of getting wound up by TV news after dinner, wind down with the abundant wildlife. End your day on the back screen porch, a short and regular migratory hop from the front porch where you began your day with coffee & bird watching. You might choose to eat out here on every warm evening. After dinner, whether you prefer an iced lemonade or a chill glass of Riesling by candlelight, the back porch is the place to spend the settling hour, after work & chores, after a run, when the sun drops and the surrounding forest shifts modes, diurnal to nocturnal. The birds will chatter and trill – the rarely seen warblers, with their water-drop & slide-flute calls, star in this opera – and over a dimming hour they will fade to silence, yet the ‘sound of silence’ in these woods is never quiet, it is natural, and vibrant: call it white noise for enlightened souls. As the birds each tuck a beak under their wings – excepting the owls who blink awake, ready to take truly silent flight – the other chorus, and their fiddling accompanists begin to warm the air. When the last bird chitters, the tree frogs start their call & response entertainment, punctuated by the low “warrump” of the bullfrogs and green frogs. Behind the frogs, though sometimes taking center stage, the crickets, the katydids, and countless other insects offer their vibrato music, playing so long as you need in order to shed any worries from the day while you prepare for bed. Relax. Tomorrow will be another day in this sylvan paradise. You’re home.
We hope you’ll love 1574 as much as we have. It’s a fair question to ask, why would we ever leave? We absolutely love this home, yet it is a big home for a big family, and our kids are leaving the nest – two gone already and two more, soon. Also, when one of the owners, originally a teacher, became an administrator in a district well across the county, the commute was too far, too long, to continue for another decade. Let our time to move on become your opportunity to move in.