Sometime in the night, as if by magic, a little bubbling spring seeped up through the earth and emerged beneath the tiny house.
With the recent rains flooding the Poudre Canyon, the underground river is suddenly coming to the surface in pools dotting the grass, making our new parking spot a muddy marsh. In exasperation, Big lays a makeshift boardwalk in the mud so we can make our way, stepping gingerly, to the truck.
Three days later, the marsh is spreading. “Our home smells like the Jungle River Cruise at Disneyland!” I cry in dismay, swatting away flies. “All we need are the hippos!”
It is sultry summer, and the butter melts on the counter. Big labors to install window screens so we can let in the fresh breeze without inviting wasps, flies, and honeybees. A ceiling fan is on order, as the one we picked out was crushed by a falling crate at the store.
For now, we relish shade, wet hair after showers, and the gorgeously cool evenings with pink and lavender clouds swirling into the summer night.
Colorado has famously good weather and boasts 300 sunny days each year. But somehow over the last seven years of living in the state, I did not fully experience the other 65 until now.
Two weeks ago, it was Thunder Snow! Booming grey clouds brought a blizzard of heavy wet snow, swirling all around the tiny house and blanketing every green thing the Spring had brought thus far.
During these times, we watch the rain or snow shower down all around us and content ourselves with hot chocolate and watercolors, library books and pillow forts.
After one of these rains, we discovered that the moisture from the soaked ground had evaporated up under our tarps of tools and possessions still in the yard, soaking everything. Hours of sun drying toys, washing quilts, and line drying papers and photos ensued.
This afternoon, we were under a tornado warning, and Big hunkered down in his truck across town until the golf ball sized hail let up. Then, all of a sudden, deep blue skies broke through the silver clouds.
And the skies above are not the only thing we’re now closer to in a tiny house.
Large, unwavering eyes following Big one night led us to be extra wary of the mountain lions that stealthily prowl the foothills. We keep the kids indoors after dusk and go together when we need to run out for something at night. And a rifle has been added to our belongings, courtesy Papaw.
Silently precocious raccoons and skunks have visited the grounds around our trailer at night, pawing for worms and other treats.
We awoke with a start one dark night as a fox pair screamed their banshee wails to one another across the windy pasture.
In the icy months of late autumn and winter, the wide swaths of grass welcomed flocks of Canadian geese. A sleek coyote would circle around, setting his hungry eyes ambitiously on the giant birds.
Occasional honey bees from the nearby hives flit here and there around our house. But on the afternoon we were set to hitch up and move thirty paces closer to the main house, something got into those bees!
Suddenly billowing to a 70,000-strong swarm blocking our path, the local beekeeper arrived, and we learned that the hive was splitting. Lasting less than an hour, we were soon able to go about our business unplugging, hitching up, and moving the house.
After growing up in southern Arizona, coming to Colorado marked the advent of experiencing real seasons for us. Furthermore, living only a few steps away from the outdoors at any given time means that we see, hear, smell, and feel nature more immediately, with little separation from these things.
It’s interesting to see the kids playing and acting out the things around them, rather than characters from shows. Chickens and coyotes, foxes and geese, they imitate the squawks and growls and make dens and nests on the couch and under the table. And wide-eyed Baby Hazelnut is big sister Firebell’s “precious baby calf.”
Being this close to nature isn’t always comfortable and often makes us scramble. But our hope is that the kids are thriving during this tiny house season with nature as their living room.