Reclaiming my home, our first farm, has been an active thread I am weaving into my life this spring. I’ve felt the stirrings of this reclaiming ever since Russell died but it is becoming more and more of an awakening as we move into spring. Most of this musing I wrote in my journal several weeks ago as we prepared for the year anniversary, life celebration of Russell. Today it calls to me to be written and shared here.
There are days I almost wish we had never taken over Avalon; there I said it out loud. I’ve never, ever been willing to speak that deep hidden truth out loud to the world. In fact, I don’t know that I’ve ever spoken it quite so clearly out loud to anyone. But I say it now. As much joy and blessings as I receive all the time from Avalon, the business and my attention to growing the community there, have drew me away from my first farm in ways I would never have imagined. For many years, I poured so much of myself into Avalon that nothing was left tending our home. It’s been a long journey to find balance in caring for both places.
From the moment our purchase was finalized, we were so happy and pleased with our little farm of 2 3/4 acres. We had our horses here. We had space for growing things. We had woods, a creek, prairies, a lake, and so much more to explore on the hundreds of undeveloped land behind us. We were very content and barely looking for more land. Something a little bigger or dreams of buying the places right next to us would have been nice but we weren’t actively looking for lots more.
It’s more like Avalon found us. And as we worked longer and longer hours it slowly changed our connection to our home farm, especially mine. As I put more and more of my work, energy, focus and dreams into Avalon, less and less was left over for our home. By the time I got home from Avalon in those early years I was too tired to do anything or even want to. Days off were about sleeping, schooling, and some catch up on household chores. That’s all I could do.
Our little farm, the land I had loved so very much, began to wilt with neglect. There was just a chaotic mess in the old pasture area with weeds taking over all of the once pretty grass. Honeysuckle bushes grew wildly all over. It was as if the land itself was closing in on itself as I stopped spending anytime walking it or caring for it.
We moved away from our first farm, our home, for a couple of years to live closer to Avalon. We rented a house within walking distance of Avalon, allowing the kids to have more time at home rather than have to be with me at the farm for 10 or more house each day. This tiny house’s greatest benefits were it’s closeness to Avalon, it was inexpensive to heat, and we could have good internet. It served the purpose of convenience but it didn’t really have any heart to connect to.
During this time we rented out our place to a young couple with dreams, horses, dogs, cats, chickens and a passionate energy to garden. They loved the land as I used to and this place began to awaken again. I remember how much Russell and I loved talking with Kate and Paul and seeing all they were doing. It brought back lots of feelings of longing to create and just be at our first farm.
For 3 years we lived like this. Lots of things shifted and changed in that time. Avalon continued to grow; Russell changed jobs and started at Immaculate Conception Church; the kids grew older and more independent; and so much more. Then, our desire (mainly Russell’s and the boys) to return to our home conveniently coincided with our renters purchase of a larger farm. In January 2014, the day before that winter’s giant snowstorm hit, we moved back to our first farm.
During that 1st year back we mainly settle into enjoying more physical room to breathe again. All the kids had their own rooms. We could move through the house without banging into things. And the dogs had tons of room to run. We didn’t do a ton with the land that year, but Russell and Demetri did start a vegetable garden. And we began to explore the creek and woods, some of our favorite places, once again. Wandering with the dogs we were all in heaven to reconnect with our beloved exploring places.
This past year our little farm has been a true gift, a place of peace and quiet healing for us all. We’ve done little outside, choosing mostly to cave away from the world. It is has been a great gift to have this little hidden away, safe home for us to heal and just be. When we have gone outside I’ve begun to look around in wonder again at this place that captured my heart 12 years ago.
With spring steadily awakening I am seeing the magic of this property as I did when we first found it. The fruit trees are budding out in an array of pretty flowers; things are greening and the birds are singing joyous, constant songs. Newly added last summer, the bees are buzzing and blissfully living life.
To honor the year anniversary of Russell’s death and to celebrate his life, we opened this home up to those closest to us to be here at our first farm, the home we both loved. That night was one of magical re-awakenings to the possibility of hosting celebrations here. The fire, the hours long soccer game, and the potluck meal were all wonderful parts of that night. But it was the people with their sharing of stories, laughter and tears that truly were the magic of the night.
I’ve realized in looking back at the pictures it’s the first time I’d invited Avalon folks to a gathering here. It’s as if I began to weave a new web that night; a web connecting all the pieces of my life – our family, our friends, my work – into a more seamless whole. I think for so long I’ve done all our gatherings at Avalon that I forgot I could do them here. It is with great joy that I am realizing I can change that and that the things I’ve kept apart no longer need to be. Balance is coming as I learn how to care for both farms, my first and Avalon. I feel hopeful that this balance will continue to deepen as I find new ways to love and tend them both.
For the first time in probably 7 years I can hear this property singing to me again. The song it sings is “Welcome home. Be still. Rest. Play. Remember. Heal. Breathe. Dream anew. Live in joy and love.” I feel myself, and hopefully my kids, slowly and steadily reclaiming this space as more than just a place for our stuff and to sleep. As we declutter and rearrange each room we are saying yes to new beginnings. As parts of this land are cleared, I hear this little farm say thank you to creating more room to breathe.
As we are truly coming back home, I feel things inside me shifting, transforming and awakening to new possibility. I feel the opportunity and the space to breathe, to be, and to dream open up before me like the next book in a beloved series. I am filled with joy to feel myself not only coming back home to my first farm that magically captured my heart, but also coming back home to myself. Joy and love abound in this magical awakening.