Winter is the perfect time to explore the natural stone shelters where native Arkansans once lived
The Observer has been thinking a lot about houses recently. Junior graduates from high school in a little under three years, and so Spouse and Her Loving Man have been talking about acquiring new digs. Big houses, small houses, houses on wheels, condos on the lake, cabins in the hills, shanties down by the river where the cattails grow, little boxes on the hillside, little boxes made of ticky tacky, little boxes on the hillside, little boxes not quite all the same.
We bought The Observatory on Maple Street some 13 summers back, and the place has been good to us, even with the annual, mid-August ant attacks and plumbing issues, even with the lack of insulation and the old floor vent grate that has become a black hole, sucking in dust and dirt, crumbs and Legos, the cat's foot once, and assorted batteries from The Observer's recorders, requiring us to periodically risk fingernails and tetanus to hoist it up and vacuum underneath it. Still, even the best home has to be passed on someday, so we're looking.
A few nights back, we watched a documentary on Netflix about the tiny house movement, wherein folks downsize to a home that wouldn't make middling olive oil cellar or gift-wrapping room in one of the gate-secluded megalomansions out in West Little Rock. The Observatory is just over 1,000 square feet and suits us fine, so it's clear we don't mind cozy. With Junior out of the nest, it seems like we wouldn't have to downsize that much to fit into 800 square feet, or even 500. When you start talking about some of the truly tiny houses, though, built on a double-axle trailer and topping out at 200 square feet, you're probably just asking for trouble. Spouse has been with Yours Truly through thick and thin, dumb and dumber, but we have lived in enough apartments over the years to know that marital happiness and square footage are often correlated. Too, the first time The Observer rolled over in the middle of the night and pushed Spouse out of our tiny house sleeping loft and headfirst into the chemical toilet, we'd likely be in need of the number for a good divorce attorney. There is thick and thin, and then there is thin ice.
All this talk of little houses made The Observer recall a narrow, Victorianesque two-story job up in Eureka Springs, with a bricked foundation, a tiny bay window capped with an onion dome, a steep roof, gingerbread trim and a balcony no bigger than a washing machine. Maybe 10 feet wide and three times as tall, the house looks like something out of a storybook, and it is, bar none, The Observer's favorite house in the Arkansas (or at least it has been since the church across from Oaklawn in Hot Springs bulldozed one of the few Art Moderne houses in the state and built a hideous barn full of God in its place). The tiny house in Eureka seemed to have fallen into some disrepair last time we saw it. We hope it hasn't been leveled for a new Target store. Such things happen.
If you've watched this space, you know The Observer has been threatening to decamp to the tranquil burg of Eureka for years, to live out our days among our tribe, The Weirdoes, driving a cab or saying stuff like "Adam and Eve on a Raft and Wreck 'Em!" while working the grill at the local cafe, shushing folks at the Carnegie library or spinning a part-time job as the town's lone gumshoe into a series of bestselling detective novels.
Now that The Observer knows that Spouse is down with living in a tiny house, we may have to look into who owns that cozy little cartoon Victorian up in Eureka, because we can honestly say that it would suit Yours Truly just fine to squeeze his big rump through the door and live there in peace with our Lovely Bride until The End. We would be That Little House Guy. People would marvel and cheer when we emerged onto the Lilliputian balcony in our epaulet jacket, to deliver our weekly address to the populace. "Good morning, Citizens of Eureka Springs!" we would say. "As your Designated Observer, we are not immune to the snares of rumor and gossip. As such, we have heard that there is currently wafting through our fair city a hurtful tale wherein some claim that Yours Truly stole a ceramic creamer cow and several small pitchers of maple syrup from our beloved Mud Street Cafe by stuffing them under our coat! We can assure you that these rumors, both vile and slanderous, are mostly false ... ."