Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Year in the Woods

I've always had a special sort of fondness for dandelions. I have been moved by how long their roots are - Burdock and Arrow-leaved Balsam root too - it's amazing to me how they can push their roots down so deep - often through hard poor soil and settle in to the business of growing their flowers and spreading their seeds. They make do with the soil they come to and they seem to thrive. They bloom where they're planted as the saying goes.Perhaps I feel an affinity with them because I too am someone who puts down deep, deep roots. I have always been so. Home has a very special meaning to me and I have always had a deep connection to my "home" no matter where it has been. This home is my third long term home; we have been here for just over ten years now and have many special memories here. This is also the home where my love for gardening was able to have free reign. We've put our heart and soul into these gardens and so it has been a bittersweet decision to sell this place...this place my boys have been raised in, but we've made this decision in order to get one step closer to our dream of owning an acreage.
These past few months have been extremely emotional for us - deciding to sell, preparing our place for sale, having people come through, getting rid of things we've outgrown or no longer use, selling and then trying to find somewhere new to live. Things haven't always gone as we had hoped, we've learned a lot about ourselves and our attachment to "home", I particularly have had some difficulties with the idea of being "home"less since I have identified myself mostly as a "home"learning parent and a "home" maker these past 13 years. The loss of my gardens and all the time that I normally spend in them has also been cause for some serious "stretching lessons" for me. Just now I find myself feeling very rootless - unsettling for a deep-rooted person - and although I don't want us to be bare-rooted for too long, I also believe there is value in moving beyond our comfort zones sometimes. In a book I love by Sue Bender she writes about "stretching lessons" and I prefer that term over "growth opportunities", I think we can all get so comfortable in our usual way of life/habits that we can forget there are other ways of living. I love the idea of stretching (or sometimes of being stretched against our will) beyond our comfort in order to "get" a much-needed lesson - sometimes (often in human nature?) it takes that uncomfortable stretch to really get a lesson. Much of my life and my boys' lives happen around the garden season - tree pruning time, blossom time, planting time, weeding (always!), roses blooming, strawberry time then apricot, peach, plum, walnuts, etc, then harvest and preserving - an unending parade of natural happenings that we follow along with, things we have grown used to. This move means a change to all of that and I believe that this shake up could mean big changes for us...certainly for the year but hopefully it will also be a time to make even more conscious choices about the way we are living each day.
We have less than a month left here and most of it will be spent packing - packing away a life and a way of life. The interim place we will be living will not be a place that supports my gardening addiction; it is a home in the woods, high up with a short growing season and loads of deer around. We've decided to consider this next year as a sabbatical, some people take A Year by the Sea, we will take a year in the woods. No renovations to do, no yard work, no fruit trees, no garden. What will I do? I ask myself. What will you do? people ask us. Certainly it will be a time for reflection. A time to consider just how we want to go forth from here. A time to decide what parts of this life we want to bring forward to the next part of our life and the next home and what parts no longer serve us. A time for more fun and play with the boys. A time for more living, loving and learning. A time to remember what used to bring us joy - what hobbies, habits and activities - before so much of our time was taken up with "home" work. A time to see what of our "stuff" we actually use and what is just excess. And, hopefully, a time to find our future home...our acreage, our future gardens. In looking at places to rent I have seen that the boys also share my deep attachment to "home" and that they have a real need for the comforting sense of home that they have grown up knowing. I'm pleased that that is important to them, I want them to place a priority on "home" and have it be of value to them.

Certainly it will be sad for us to leave here and there will be lots of tears. Already as we take pictures of certain things we each of us hold dear - the tree house, the "dirt pit", the gardens, particular flowers or trees - we feel sadness that it will be the "last time" we see these things. There is also so much to be done as we pack that there just isn't a lot of time for melancholy especially as I'm trying to fit in as much fun as can be had during such a time to ease things a bit. We've been out for lots of hikes lately and this helps to remind us that we can enjoy nature's offerings as well even once we won't have our own gardens, for my husband and I having less "home"work to do offers us the chance to get back into more hiking - something we used to do all the time. We found all sorts of good stuff on this weekend's hikes - mushrooms, wild clematis, wild ginger, prickly pear cactus and much more.
Good reminders to me that there is beauty everywhere, goodness all around, abundance and growth in unlikely places...and many, many opportunities for joy, if we are only willing to be open to it. And that sometimes, even as life offers up some prickles here and there... sometimes those very prickles can lead to far greater loveliness than we can even imagine

And all that to explain why things have been so quiet around here lately. ;-)


Anonymous said...

Wow -- you are being given a wonderful opportunity to truly live the life that YOU desire. Your boys are still at a great age to "change". "The acreage" is our dream as well and with our boys being 18 & 16, we kinda feel like we've missed the opportunity for a life that we felt that we really wanted to give them. Not that we don't love our life here, but our dreams are a little different. But our girls are only 6 & 11, and maybe we will still "get there" with them. I think your "label" for this post is the most important thing.... "family matters"; and the four of you will figure out YOUR way of living a meaningful and fulfilling life together.
Rebecca :)

Andrea said...

How inspiring, Heather! I look forward to hearing how it all unfolds. Good luck on this next part of the adventure.

denise said...

Oh, I can imagine how hard it must be to leave, but how wonderful to have a chance to take a break and then begin again exactly the way you want to. I would love that, actually! Can't wait to see where it all leads.

sheila said...

Last summer I said something like "Our next house will be..." and the kids nearly had a heart attack at the idea that I was contemplating moving yet again. So, while I comforted them with platitudes (No, we probably won't move in the next 10 years), another part of me was wondering where I'd like to move to. It's vestiges from moving around a lot, I think, and knowing that each place we rented would never be a permanent home. A part of me longed for a 'fast forward' button glimpse, as reassurance, too. Maybe that's where the bittersweetness comes from.

Fantastic Five said...

What a lovely wise woman you are. And eloquent, too. It is so good to reflect on the things that bring us joy.


Jess said...

Wow, what you are going through is so hard, yet as you said, it's a great stretching lesson.
I know you'll find so much in the woods, and it won't be the same, but it might be even better than you had hoped!
I can't wait to read what your journey brings you.