“My heart has finally found a home.” – Mary Ann Petro

Without a doubt, many of you have heard the phrase, “Home is Where I Hang my Hat.” My thoughts are a bit different – “Home is Where I Hang my Heart.” And, I have hung my heart in three homes.

Our first home was a small, new construction, contemporary style home. It was a charming home in a new development. Once we were settled, I went to work “feathering our nest,” trying to make it warm and inviting. Being new construction, the yard was bare. Perfect for me. So, in went the trees, azaleas, gardenias, pyracantha and other plants hardy to coastal Virginia. One of my favorite plants were deep red impatients. The deep red color next to the natural cedar exterior of our home was stunning – literally traffic stopping. This sweet home was where we hung our hearts for nine years. During this time, our interests changed and we desired a more rural setting. This setting provided the much needed room to further develop our many varied interests. The 21 acres we purchased provided exactly what we were looking for, room to build a 2,800 square foot log home. A lovely 2-story Dutch colonial, flanked on either side by exterior chimneys made from the brick of an old warehouse. And, a front porch that was 10 feet by 20 feet.

This wonderful home was truthfully built with love, sweat, youthful determination and heart. Most of all, so much heart. Mike secured every log in place and I carried into the house every piece of 2-inch pine flooring which he, and our young friend Jeff, nailed down with square-cut nails. Additionally, Mike also built all the interior doors, a large barn and numerous other outbuildings.

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The gardens were established with painstaking care and planning. The fence was built to enclose the back pasture and then, the sheep arrived – from Maryland. And, not just any sheep – Romney’s. Romney’s are wool breed sheep, shearing annually, about 10 pounds of wool per sheep. They provided the wool I used in weaving 18th century reproduction coverlets and blankets on an antique barn loom. Building this beautiful home and developing its’ grounds was a genuine labor of love. We were blessed to call it home. Truly, it was a beautiful spot on this earth, where the Eastern Bluebirds fluttered about and the quiet was only interrupted by the sweet gurgling of the Purple Martins, and the clip clop of horses’ hoofs. This was “Crabapple,” where we “hung our hearts” for 23 years.

I can’t begin to tell you the buckets of tears we both shed when we left our beloved “Crabapple.” Leaving, was a decision solely based on love, and that love was for our mothers. Both were failing and lived in Clarksburg, West Virginia. Simply, we needed to return to help them both. A decision we have never regretted.

This leads me to, Maison De Jardin (The Garden House), where we currently “hang our hearts.” Honestly, after leaving so much of ourselves in Virginia, I never thought my heart would love, really love another home. I was wrong. Our wonderful old home was waiting for us and she charmed us to, once again, “hang our hearts.”  She had been well loved and cared for through the years. Overall, as a home built in 1939, she was in great condition. The yard contained a few lovely old rhododendrons and a grand Japanese maple. And, there were a few other plants scattered about, but it lacked the charm of a planned garden. An issue I quickly set about changing after the first spring.

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As I began working, in what was to later be named Le Jardin (The Garden), I found many sweet signs of love. I could almost hear children’s laughter as I uncovered a “gazillion” green army men, a doll’s leg, and many marbles while planting the garden. This home had enjoyed a happy past, and she was wooing us to fall in love, once again. You see, when we love our homes, they love us back and they wrap their arms around us. But, for this to occur, we must do more than exist in our homes. We must care for them and never take them for granted. We must “hang our hearts” in them. And, although it may be invisible to our eyes, the energy and spirit of our homes can be felt. Furthermore, we take this energy (positive or negative) into the world with us, affecting the quality of our days.

In closing, I hope our story inspires you. Whatever your home may be, small or large, love it and make it beautiful. Creating a beautiful home can be one of your greatest achievements. One of which you can thoroughly enjoy the process and the results. So, go ahead, jump in, “hang your heart,” and enjoy all the love returned to you.

See you soon,