Tuesday, March 6, 2012 / 11:13 am

Rural Life: Living in a Glass House on Top of a Hill in Oklahoma

Living on the edge.

by Donna Schoenkopf

Farnsworth House
Farnsworth House

I wanted something like Mies Van der Rohe's Farnsworth House in Indiana.  The Glass House by Philip Johnson in Connecticut intrigued me, too.  But what I could afford and what I needed to do because of the weather, only vaguely resembles those two beauties.

But my little Housie suits me to a tee.

Imagine living in a place where the weather is the most dramatic factor in your day-to-day life and you live in a (mostly) glass and steel house on top of a hill on thirteen beautiful hilly acres of forest, wildflowers, and prairie grass.  That's spring and summer.  Winter's different.  But we won't go into all that.  Nor will we go into flooding, drought, and high straight winds.

What I will go into is that you can see for miles through the trees in the winter after the leaves have dropped, all the way to the horizon which looks like it's been drawn with a ruler, it's so straight and sharp.   The sky is very big and it changes in the blink of an eye.

You can see when the weather's coming your way if you live in a glass house.

Sometimes it's so scary even I am scared (and I pride myself on my courage.) I've been rigid with fear cowering in the bathroom more than once as a lightning storm crashed in the dead of night all around me so close I felt doomed, thunder rattling my bones in boom after boom after rumbling boom.

I timed one of those thunder sessions just to see how long it lasted one dark and stormy night.  It was 73 seconds.  That is a long time for thunder to last.

I'm thinking of all this because The Weather Channel says some weather is heading our way.  Already the sky has darkened and there is a new crispness in the air. (By the way, the best music on TV is during the “Weather on the 8s” on The Weather Channel. Check it out.  It's always different.  I'm in love with whoever is pickin' the tunes.)

I am wondering if we'll have some of those killer tornadoes this coming week.  The wind is hitting the house right now, hard and punchy.  The whole forest sways as bundles of wind sweep back and forth across the treetops.

The dogs want in.  They know something's coming and they love their mama.  All the plastic furniture on the deck has blown off.  The sound of wind whoooshing is the only sound.  Banks of gray clouds scud my way from the southwest to the northeast.  The clock ticks in the kitchen.

Living in a glass house is like living outside.  And even though I have sometimes cursed and sworn and shaken my angry fist at the sky (but mostly pointed my accusatory finger at myself for having been so stupid) I can honestly say that I am SO GLAD I built my glass house on top of a hill in Oklahoma.

I know things you'll never know, kid.

But maybe you'd rather not.

Glass House
Glass House
Donna Schoenkopf recently retired from teaching at 61st Street School in South Central Los Angeles, and has moved back to Oklahoma, where she spent her teens.
donna@fourstory.org

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