WHEN THE COURVILLES, our next-door neighbors growing up, decided to move from Catahoula to Butte La Rose a few years ago, my parents bought their house and lot. Their initial idea was to sell it and have it moved elsewhere — my dad wanted to have a big garden in its place — but the house was too big to be moved in one piece, and chopping it in half and moving the two pieces elsewhere was too costly relative to what the house was worth. So my dad considered tearing it down and selling it for parts. He really wanted that big sunny garden there.
Destroying the house didn’t sit well with me. Maybe it was nostalgia for my childhood. I remember Miss Gail and Mr. Herman and the rest of their family with such fondness — oil painting with Miss Gail, playing pool, the smothered shrimp she’d give us for Christmas. With the house gone, some of those memories would go with it, wouldn’t they? But it wasn’t until I was putting the finishing touches on my book of dreams in 2012 that I started actively lobbying to keep the house intact. Specifically, this dream on page 91 caught my attention:
“I dreamed Miss Gail’s house was floating down Catahoula Lake on its side. It was painted corn yellow. Then it was underwater. I dragged a pirogue so narrow it felt like I was wearing it to the edge of the lake and waded in. Brandy said it was the most fun she’d ever had. I dove into the murky water and groped around for a slimy corner, anything to pull the house to the surface, and was surprised it was so easy to lift with one hand. “Maybe it shrank in the lake,” I thought. But it wasn’t a house I’d pulled from the lake. It was a severed thumb, a thumb with corn yellow skin and with a bone protruding.”
Andrew and I convinced my mom and dad to keep the house. My dad started renovations in 2012 and as of December 2014 the cottage — the name was Andrew’s idea —was ready to inhabit again. There’s even a small garden in front.