"All the sun long it was running, it was lovely, the hay
Fields high as the house, the tunes from the chimneys, it was air
And playing, lovely and watery
And fire green as grass.
And nightly under the simple stars
As I rode to sleep the owls were bearing the farm away,
All the moon long I heard, blessed among stables, the nightjars
Flying with the ricks, and the horses
Flashing into the dark.
And then to awake, and the farm, like a wanderer white
With the dew, come back, the cock on his shoulder: it was all
Shining, it was Adam and maiden,
The sky gathered again
And the sun grew round that very day.
So it must have been after the birth of the simple light
In the first, spinning place, the spellbound horses walking warm
Out of the whinnying green stable
On to the fields of praise. " (From FERN HILL, by Dylan Thomas)
Where I choose to live is largely influenced by Where I Don't Live Anymore.
I grew up running free on 160 acres of land on top of a mountain in central British Columbia. The first time I read Fern Hill it created goose bumps all over my body. How did Dylan Thomas know my childhood? How could he capture those golden summers and find the words to share them with the world?
The Farm was magic. We climbed trees and rowed around the pond in an old rowboat. We rode horses and motorcycles and built tree forts. In the winter there was skating and sliding and making tunnels in the snow. Any time I was confused or sad, I escaped into the trees and they comforted me. I took my joys there too, along with all of my dreams and fears.
I was six when we moved there, and by the time I left to go to college when I was 18, the land was bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh, even though I didn't live there anymore. When I married at 21, my husband and I moved. A lot. It didn't really matter where we lived, because The Farm was always home, even though I didn't live there anymore. Everything else was just a temporary adventure.
The years passed, and then my Father, who had loved the land as I did, died suddenly of a stroke.
I went on, as one does, even though he had been so vital and alive that his dying seemed inconceivable. The land comforted me. I didn't see it often, but I could still return to visit because my brother and his family had moved in to the old house. And it was always there. I could close my eyes and smell the air.
And then one day my beloved brother called to say he'd chosen to sell.
My world caved in. I wept for days. I couldn't encompass a reality in which I couldn't stand in this particular spot ever again, place my hand on this tree, have that particular view. I was devastated and dispossessed, as though somebody had cut out a big chunk of my soul and handed it to strangers.
Selling was practical and necessary. Neither my brother or I could live there. And still the loss was so overwhelming that I weep now, after the passage of many years, to write about it.
Thomas got that part spot on, too:
"Nothing I cared, in the lamb white days, that time would take meUp to the swallow thronged loft by the shadow of my hand,In the moon that is always rising,Nor that riding to sleep
I should hear him fly with the high fieldsAnd wake to the farm forever fled from the childless land."
Which brings us to NOW, and why I live in this wonderful place where I am now putting down my roots.
Fate brought me here. The Viking and I were living in Pasco, Washington. Both of us hated it there, but that was where we'd washed up, both for different reasons. And then circumstances in the form of a job opportunity moved the Viking here.
We conducted a long distance relationship over the course of a year, uncertain what we were going to do. I had kids, he had kids, we were both gun shy about the combined family venture. Maybe I'd move up and we'd maintain separate households like we'd done before. We talked, we imagined.
And then we found The Land. He called to tell me about it. I drove up to look.
Both of us fell in love on sight. Trees. Mountains. Sky. No visible neighbors. Land of our very own, that nobody can pull out from under us. Not a dream that either of us could manage on our own, but one that we could manage together.
People are always asking, "so what are you going to do with it? Log it? Have livestock? Plant gardens?"
We look at each other and laugh.
"Live on it," we answer.