Hope in the form of cement and two-by-fours, beauty in the hot air

This morning’s tally:

  • 3.48 miles
  • 14 houses under construction
  • 4 new houses or duplexes completed since the beginning of the year
  • 2 hot air balloons

I decided to monitor the new home construction in my neighborhood this morning as I ran a circle around my house. It was eye-opening.

My house sits in the midst of a subdivision on the edge of the “old” part of town — old meaning pre-1990, when little Hampshire sat on the edge of the prairie. The houses on my street were constructed in the boom years, roughly 1995-2005, when Hampshire sat at the edge of suburbia.

A dozen other empty subdivisions dot Hampshire’s landscape. They have streets and curbs and gutters and street lights, advertising promise and hope pre-2008, when new home construction came to an abrupt halt.

I’ve lived in Hampshire for eight years, and in the past seven, I’ve seen only a handful of new homes built along those empty roads.

But the times, they are a changin’.

I was out-of-town for five weeks, and when I came back, three lots with only dandelions last month now sport insulation board on wooden skeletons above cement foundations. Houses are growing! The trickle that began at the beginning of the year has become a wave. Besides the 14 structures under construction (just on my side of town!), there’s a lot of earth moving happening on at least a half-dozen other lots.

It is evidence of the rebounding housing market, and it’s thrilling. Not because I think the world needs more houses that look like every other one on the block but because people build houses because they have jobs and new babies and hope! And a rising tide raises all boats. Maybe the value of my house will someday equal what I paid for it.

I also saw two hot air balloons as I huffed and puffed down the asphalt in my hot pink running shoes. They were so far away, I couldn’t even tell you what color the balloons were, but they were distinctive against the absolutely clear blue horizon, hanging like Christmas ornaments in the stillness of dawn.

They were beautiful.

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