Elms ringed the whole house. They were responsible for keeping it cool in summer. In return, we watered our shaggy, eccentric, old-fashioned lawn, and the elms drank, too.
Near the driveway there was an old crone of a mulberry, making it risky to hang out washing or park cars when the berries were in season, because the birds shat a loose profusion of violet emulsion everywhere until the mulberries were gone. We never ate them.
Half our house was heated by an ancient furnace in the basement. The other half, built by my father and his friend, was heated by a fireplace that opened into two rooms, which we called dens. A family of three people, with three different rooms to sit in. That was us in a nutshell. We each needed our space. There were sofas and TVs and bookshelves everywhere. I always managed to get a seat by the fire, and so by the time I was eight or nine I tended it. Cleaned the grate, took out the ashes, carried wood, built the fire and kept it going. To this day, when I don't have a fire to tend I miss doing it.