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C'est la Vie: Appreciating the Old

Our house is 50-some years old and we love it. It has character and charm. It has mature trees and a good sized yard. It also has cracking concrete and an ancient boiler. It has old tile and wood paneling. It has a beige, no maybe more like rust-colored, bath tub. But that's life. Things get old. You take the old with the ugly and mix it together into something that is satisfying and much more interesting than what you'd buy new off the shelf at your local big box store.

One of the more interesting features of our back yard is the old incinerator. As legend has it (okay, our sweet old neighbors next door told us), each home was originally built with one of these incinerators, used for burning trash and debris. Over the years, city regulations changed and burning became unlawful, so many of these structures were torn down. But not ours. Someone was resourceful enough to turn ours into a birdbath.

It has occurred to me regularly that we could just tear this down and put up a shiny new birdbath. And we certainly could. This structure sits just on the edge of the children's garden and we could expand to make the garden larger if it wasn't for this incinerator/bird bath. It's like a chimney sprouting from the ground! But then I remember something. If I don't tear it down, hopefully someone will wonder over this odd structure when it is 80 or 100 years old. And that is what makes me love it all the more.

It is the "old" that has a history... a story to tell. So I instead of wishing for "new" things, I enjoy the old. I wonder about the people who used the incinerator: Are they still alive? Do they live nearby? Did they pull out their lawn chairs and sit around the fire on a summer night? I think about the garden with it's old rickety gate: Who first tilled up this soil? Did they garden as a hobby or out of necessity? What color did they first paint the fence and gate?
I suppose there are exceptions, times when things have outlived their usefulness. But I think that's rare. Look at the birdbath! Re-purposing and re-designing may take a bit more thought and creativity, but I think we will be better for it. And as I like to think of it, you're making history and telling a story all at the same time.

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