Today the Lady Friend and I are moving out of the home we have occupied for 40 years in Evanston, Illinois, the house where we reared two sons and indulged two sets of grandchildren. Is it a bittersweet uprooting, a sentimental goodbye to a place deeply entwined with our hearts?
Not at all. We've enjoyed living there, but we haven't loved the expensive upkeep of a 103-year-old house. Now and then things have to be renewed—roof, windows, boiler, water heater, basement drains and sump pump. Stuff breaks and has to be fixed. Decoration fades and needs to be redone.
In the early days we did it all ourselves (and in some places that shows). But as we have aged, we have increasingly hired things done rather than straining our backs. That's not cheap. Tradesmen have to be paid. (At least they do a professional job.)
We're staying in town, moving to a two-bedroom-with-balcony pied-a-terre in a condo building just two blocks west in a familiar neighborhood that has grown on us, the Central Street corridor in northwest Evanston.
But it's not really our home. Our hearts belong to a tiny log cabin on the shore of Lake Superior in upper Michigan a few miles west of the small, struggling town of Ontonagon, called Porcupine City in the mystery novels I've based on the semi-wilderness region. There we spend five months of the year—mid-May to mid-October, returning to Evanston for our winter quarters.
Why not live there year round?
For one thing, the cabin is set up only for three seasons. The water system must be shut down before the winter freeze, and the only sources of heat are a large fireplace in the great room and small electric heaters in the bedrooms. (Good thing firewood is cheap in the North Woods.)
For another, all our guys are in Evanston. (The primary guy, the knee guy, the back guy, the heart guy, the skin guy, the eye guy, the tooth guy. Old folks need their specialists close by when it counts, and it takes a while to get them trained.)
So it goes.