Cross Creek is our ten acre homestead in Pennsylvania. Tom and I purchased a foreclosure which was a true zombie house. We planned to buy a camper to live in while the house was being renovated, but then COVID-19 hit and plans changed.
I grew up living in the country in Maine, but Tom and I have lived in a city or town all of our adult lives. We have never been gardeners, with the exception of an occasional tomato plant on the patio, so how did we end up on a 10 acre fixer upper in PA?
Tom and I have a blended family with 3 adult daughters, 19 grandchildren (grands), Daisy our English bulldog and Kitty, our ancient cat. We were married when our girls were 13, 10 and 8 and like any family, have had our ups and downs, but as followers of Jesus we have been shown the mercy and grace of God more times than we can count. We have been blessed to always have good jobs, nice homes, food on our table and clothes on our backs. We have lived in small houses, large houses and condos, always within walking distance of a coffee shop, restaurant, pharmacy and library. I could not have imagined living in the middle of nowhere and would not even discuss a house in the country. I always wanted to be close to a major airport since I travel for business and pleasure, plus I love coffee, the theater, going to the movies, and trying new restaurants.
Tom and I were enjoying life traveling between homes in Baltimore and West Palm Beach when our first grandchild came into the family. He was beyond perfect and we enjoyed the small amounts of time we had with him. He was soon joined by 2 brothers and a sister and then cousins started coming along. It wasn’t long before we realized how much we were missing and decided to move closer to them. We bought a nice house in the suburbs with plenty of bedrooms and separate spaces so there would be lots of room for children to play. The yard was not big but we thought it would be adequate and the neighborhood was beautiful. We started a new set of traditions with all of the grands and found that separate spaces were actually not helpful as we all gathered in one area. That area seemed huge when it was just Tom and I, but put together our large family and the space became crowded quickly. We also had a breakfast area and separate dining room but neither space was large enough to fit everyone around a table for Christmas Eve .
We have enjoyed each home we have lived in but as we’ve gotten older our requirements have changed. I was leaning toward a retirement village but the kitchens and gathering spaces were never quite big enough. Tom suggested we write our ‘dream home’ list. It was pretty extensive and we laughed when we wrote it:
- Large kitchen
- Living room to fit all the grands for movie night
- Dining room with enough space to eat together as a family
- 3 or more bedrooms
- Spacious bedroom with a view for Tom and I
- His and her bathrooms (I know you’re rolling your eyes but secretly you want the same)
- Office space
- Laundry room on the same floor as the bedrooms
- A big yard where the grands could play, entertain friends and have great adventures
- Long tree lined drive
- Stone walls on the property
- Water somewhere – a pond, stream, anything but water was a necessity
- Gardening space
- Chicken coop or room to build one
- Hiking nearby
Tom and I enlisted the help of our favorite realtor and the Zillow app and started looking. Jennifer is amazing and never failed to show us any home we wanted to see, even though our wish list was so long. Tom and Desirae (our middle daughter) sent me the Zillow listing for Cross Creek multiple times and I kept saying no, using every excuse you can imagine with my favorites being; “too much work” and “too far away from civilization”. After 6 months my dear husband asked me to please drive by and I consented. When I reached the address I saw an open gate with a long, gravel driveway that never seemed to end. This time I said “NO WAY, I’m not going down that driveway, who knows where it ends?”.
The next morning Tom loaded me into the car and drove me through the gate and down the long, tree lined driveway with a stone wall along the side. The home obviously needed work as did the property but it was so peaceful and serene that we immediately called Jennifer for a showing. The first room we entered had beautiful stone walls in a room that could become a dining room large enough to seat everyone. We went into the kitchen which could hold a crowd, and then moved on to a sunken living room where we could easily seat everyone for movie night. We climbed the stairs and found 2 guest bedrooms with bathrooms, then up a few more steps to a large room that had all of us gasping and laughing at the same time. The bedroom was enormous! The wall of windows showed us a beautiful wooded view and the his and her bathrooms were an unexpected bonus.
The house was dirty, it needed everything, but as we walked outside and down the main hiking trail to the creek, all we could see were possibilities.
We closed on Cross Creek Valentines Day, 2020 and started planning the renovation. It was only about a month later that I was grounded from flying due to COVID-19 and we didn’t know what the future would hold. We decided to be conservative and rather than work on a full-scale renovation, we enlisted the help of our family to clean, paint and make it livable while we sell our other house.
We hope you enjoy following us as we fix it up on our own, plan a future, more thorough renovation, learn to garden, raise chickens for eggs, enjoy our family, hike and learn about nature.
Please feel free to leave comments and suggestions, we would love to hear your stories!