© 2013 by Marilyn J. Woody
“I sure like our farm, Nana,” said my four-year-old great-granddaughter, Jen, as she placed another bulb in the moist soil. I stuck my shovel in the dirt, glancing at the large white house towering behind us. A farm? Not really, but a vegetable garden, assorted citrus and other fruit trees, giant oaks and two dogs met her storybook idea for one.
We live on a wooded hillside in South Pasadena, California, ten minutes from downtown Los Angeles. A Canadian lumber baron discovered the site in 1903, building a three-story house, separate maid’s quarters, a stable and tennis courts. As years passed, the property was sub-divided and sold. In its present state only the house and maid’s cottage remain on the two acres.
Our two daughters and a son-in-law bought the place in partnership over twenty-five years ago. Now there are four generations living “on the hill.” We speak of the location this way because reaching the house requires heading up a long, narrow driveway, shaded by massive oaks.
The Big House in the Little Woods
bend, an alcove overflows with ferns, foxgloves, roses and delphiniums. A tall birdhouse greets visitors and a wrought-iron bench beckons those wanting to sit and enjoy the mountain view. Babytears and moss grow in the rock wall crevices.
“With four generations living so close, how do you get along so well?” people often ask.
“We all love Jesus,” I tell them, “and pray for each other.” When our children moved to this home they dedicated it to the Lord and He helps us keep this commitment. We understand the wisdom of Psalm 127:1 which says, ‘Unless the Lord builds the house they labor in vain who build it.'"
Students, missionaries and others needing a temporary place to stay are welcome. The big house is divided into three separate homes. Visitors usually stay in a cozy blue and white guestroom on the second floor with a view of the hillside path where coyotes follow a well-worn trail.
Terri, a teenage great-granddaughter said recently, “Please don’t ever sell this house, Nana. I want to be married here someday.”
She knows the grand old home is where happy memories form.
It’s the gathering place for birthday parties, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations. The garden alcove affords great hiding places for Easter egg hunts, and weddings and receptions are captured in lasting photos.
Two large porches wrap around the house giving ample space for outdoor eating in warm weather. A tree house, complete with swings and steps leading to a platform, is a great favorite. There the children play, nibble on snacks, read books on lazy summer afternoons or stage a puppet show for the adults.
From the tree house the children look down on a large fountain in the front yard. It’s a glorious place to cool off on hot summer days and rinse the Popsicle drippings from their elbows. The fountain is also occasionally used for small groups wishing to be baptized or as a spot for reflection.
Still, all of this does not explain the true essence of our home, for it has a special quality. It’s the “something” so many comment about as they experience love and tranquility on the hill. Where Jesus dwells in loving hearts, He brings peace to outsiders and insiders. The big house in the little woods offers this quiet serenity.
Irene Hikle Faubion was a published author of poems and short articles. She was also an accomplished musician. She and her husband, Wayne, served pastorates in four different states for almost forty years. They left a legacy for two daughters, four grandchildren, eleven great-grandchildren, and two great-great grandchildren.