A disappearing house

Once a home on the prairie

A mile west and a few yards north of my house, one of my favorite biking routes begin. It’s a 12-mile ribbon of road that becomes increasingly rural as it heads north. After about four miles, the traffic becomes sparse and riding becomes relaxing.


It’s been too long since I’ve been on this route. For more than 20 years, I rode this way regularly. I know the landmarks, from the railroad tracks that cross the road, to the power plant, to the farmhouses, and the side roads that say ‘no outlet,’ and a few places where I need to shift into a lower gear to summit a hill.

Another view of the old house

My favorite landmark lies about 11 miles into the route, behind a fence, on top of a little hill. It must have been home to a farm family long ago, but for at least the last 20 years, I have been watching it slowly sink into the ground. Its shape changes as it travels toward oblivion.


Last summer, as I drew close to it on my bike, I began to wonder if it still existed. I was prepared to see an empty spot on the hillside where it once stood. But no. Instead, it has taken on a new look. It seemed larger to me, even though it’s lower to the ground and more spread out.


Until this week, I had only observed it from behind a fence. But on this morning I discovered a path that allowed me to go closer, to peek into its interior. With the friend who had accompanied me, we snooped around, checking it out on all sides and marveling at how it continued to exist after so many years.


I was so happy to see the old place still hanging together. And I felt grateful that I still had what it takes to get out on the road and pay it a visit.


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