The old farmhouse has a new front door. Actually only the wood storm door is new — made by a friend who is a skilled finish carpenter. As for the main door, there was much discussion about what to do: replace or repaint? In the end we decided to keep the old door, with its dings and dents and antique hardware. It’s simple and solid and a testament to the generations of people who have lived in this house for more than two centuries.

It’s my house now — after living here for nearly 17 years, this past summer I became the owner. And that of course comes with all the responsibilities, headaches and quiet joys known to every homeowner. With an old house, you can triple all that.

I’m no stranger to antique houses — in the early 1970s my family and I lived in an old farmhouse on Chappy for more than a decade. The place was practically falling down around our ears; my husband and I fixed it up in lieu of rent, there was no central heat but we were young and there was a certain poetry about living there, where we raised our two children through their early years. Eventually we bought a piece of land and built a home, but our memories of the old farmhouse have stayed with us through the years. Today that house is getting a new lease on life with a young couple who remind me very much of ourselves in another era.

Old houses have been in the news a lot on Martha’s Vineyard this year. Many people who are buying them want to tear them down and build new. It’s become a political dilemma, including for the Martha’s Vineyard Commission which has the unenviable — and it seems at times impossible — task of playing judge and jury as the demolition requests pile up.

It’s hard to know what the best solution is to the problem — or whether there is even a single solution. Like so many things on the Island, the issue has become complicated and fraught. A conversation for another day.

For me, living in an old house all these years has engendered a renewed respect for history and what came before. Long before there were solar panels, Islanders knew how to site houses like mine, facing the sun, often near a road or on a hilltop or in a field, sheltered from the punishing northeast winter winds, open to the cooling southwest summer breezes.

By now it’s a cliche, but at some point along the way I decided it was true that you don’t really own an old house, you’re simply a steward of the place, a caretaker of sorts for future generations.

Much like my children did, my two noisy grandchildren have grown up clattering around the farmhouse. Since they were old enough to stand, we have charted their growth by periodically marking their heights on the doorway between the kitchen and living room. We made the most recent mark just after Thanksgiving this year as everyone was rushing to catch a ferry home, discovering to our surprise that the oldest child is nearly as tall as the top of the doorway.

And not for the first time, I paused to wonder where the years had gone.

The front door looks beautiful now, freshly painted by an Island painter who thankfully made some time in his overbooked schedule for a relatively small job.

Maybe some day we will need to replace the door, but for now it stays. Facing the sun and the road, ready for a wreath.