This week marks the one-year-anniversary of our official move to Wildwood Acres. We closed on our property in February of 2015. Home renovations began almost immediately thereafter. We officially ditched our city life and relocated to our new, country digs during the first week of April 2015.
I’ve enjoyed blogging about many of our “modern homesteading” adventures over the last 12 months, candidly sharing our renovation projects, gardening endeavors and ludicrous chicken-keeping escapades. Like I so often do when I’m determined to catch up on the blog, I sat down at my laptop last week with a humongous cup of piping hot java and a bowl full of raw almonds. I desperately wanted to summarize our year in review, but quickly discovered that it’s nearly impossible to put into words all of that which our little family has experienced, grown from and evolved into as the result of living here at the homestead over the past year. So, I gave up and went to work in the garden instead. Several days later (as they often do) the words came to me when I least expected them to appear. I awoke during the wee morning hours on Monday with some compelling thoughts itching away at my subconscious, pleading to be scratched out onto paper. Turns out my partially snoozing brain can adequately abridge the last 12 months of our lives in a way my conscious intellect apparently cannot.
My sleepy state-of-being disclosed the following:
The ground is icy and crunches beneath our feet. Loblolly pines surround, branches heavy with snow, creaking and snapping, the sound echoing through the silence of the winter woods. Could this be home? In the city, we open our windows and with the slightest breeze, a warm, comforting scent fills our little home as our friend Jose bakes cake in his oven right next door. The joyful sounds of an impromptu jam session fills the air as another neighbor strums his guitar a few houses down, a friend keeps the beat on a set of bongos as cars pass by and the faint cry of a police siren wails in the distance. This place seems so far removed from the space and sounds and normalcy of our city life. It’s a harsh winter by coastal Virginia standards, making the country landscape seem even more foreign to us than it actually is, like frozen tundra in another world, a desolate space, no man’s land. What are we doing? Can our dreams come true here? We see potential. It feels nice. So nice in fact, that we try talking one another back down to reality, just in case disappointment is on the horizon. But as we stand in the freezing temperatures, breathing in that crisp bite of fresh December air, plotting out our spring gardens and chicken coops, we realize that we’re just too eager to consider the idea that this real estate transaction may not work out for us. So in that moment of togetherness, we surf the wistful wave of excitement, embracing our hobby farm vision. We dream big that afternoon. Over the next few months, we leap over a billion hurdles before we finally cross the finish line, toss the confetti and toast to this new chapter in our lives. A new season rolls in as winter’s crunch thaws into spring’s sludge. With bluebird skies and warm rain, the earth comes back to life. Our coop is set and our feathered friends explore their new home filling the air with clucks, gobbles, quacks and bleats. We till the garden, seedlings pop and just like that our dream is alive. A new normal works its way into our existence just as summer creeps in with gardens in full bloom and honeysuckle sweetness wafts on the breeze. Our afternoon is filled with the sounds of our kids casting poles on the pond and in the evening a chorus of bullfrogs usher in the moon and star speckled sky. Fireflies flicker and the humidity sticks to our sun-kissed skin, the forests and fields teaming with life all around us, and blueberries by the bushel serve as our reminder that sweet mother earth dishes up dessert daily. Before bedtime, we dab our dotted flesh with homemade tincture in an effort to ease the itch of multiple mosquito bites, awakening each morning to tea tree scented bed sheets. It’s the new sniff of summer at the homestead. My soul mate is an artist. His favorite tool is a straight edge shovel and his canvas is the earth, vibrant blooming blasts of color and mottled leaf textures fill his palette, he paints with nature’s flora and fauna. Our flowerbeds overflow with his signature designs. I stay busy learning to care for the chickens, turkeys and ducks, weeding the veggie gardens, preserving our harvests and always creating tomorrow’s “to do” list. We barely found our rhythm here in the country before fall came through for a visit and hung around until old man winter once again arrived on the scene. He was much kinder to us this year. We eased our way through the chill and darkness of the season by keeping the home fires burning, wood smoke smudging our heavy skies above and every so often revisiting the tastes of sweet summer shine by cracking open a jar of homemade fig preserves for breakfast, baking some canned blueberry bliss into our morning muffins or munching on our pickled okra as an after school snack. Here we are, one year later. We find ourselves still working to breathe new life into this old place, each day making it more of our own. Closer to nature than we have ever lived, we sport callused hands, dirty fingernails, and on most weekends a lofty headspace of dreamy delight at the end of a very long work day on our little slice of heaven. We have a newfound hunger for exploration and sustainability that can only be satiated by working with, for and in advocacy of Mother Nature. We have endless lessons to learn, projects to complete, livestock to incorporate and beehives to build. We are blessed in the realization that Wildwood Acres serves as our catalyst in this lifelong endeavor. Our teacher, our playground and our home.