Friday, July 11, 2008

How Did I Get Here?

When people ask how we found this place, I have a hard time conveying just how fated it was. Sometimes you can feel the pieces falling into place around you and you can’t believe your luck. You can’t believe what you are being handed. It is an answer to your heartfelt desires, so it shouldn’t come as such a shock. You get what you ask for—but still.
It all started when we were kids. John went to his Aunt Oileen’s farm, and I went to my grandmother, Baumie’s farm and there it happened that a love of the outdoors, of animals, of homey comforts and the smell of fresh hay began for us both. Before we even met each other, we both wanted to live on a farm when we grew up. And we did for a few years in Hanover, Indiana after Mary graduated from high school and Sarah and Jack were still little. Battelle called us to Columbus, though, and then it was “after the kids are grown.”

By the time that Sarah was in college and Jack in eighth grade, we had enough money to start looking at places in the country—ten or twenty acres maybe, to use as a getaway, a place to build on later. Other people might buy a nice new car with that money, or fix up their house. We were looking in the paper at ads that mentioned rolling hills, scenic ponds and proximity to state parks. It was frustrating, though, when we went to look. Our joke became, “Ooh, look—it’s a scenic pond!” when we passed some moldy puddle of water with dead trees sticking out of it at the bottom of a hill.

The process worked like this: John scoured the newspaper for places that were near a state park or other place where we could hike. That way, we could look at a potential property but still have a destination that got us out of the car with Jack and the dog. One time we found a place in the Hocking Hills area that was beautiful. The people were selling their farm in three sections—or you could buy the whole thing. Well, we wanted the whole thing of course, but we couldn’t afford it. “I can’t keep looking,” I said one day. “It’s too frustrating. Let’s just wait until it’s closer to reality.”

Reality Hits
My grandmother Baumie died in February, 2002, just a few months shy of 97. All the women in her family lived long. She joked that one of her sisters died young—at 88. Her passing was monumental in our family because she was such a presence. (Click here for that story.) We traveled to Iola, Texas that summer and met up with all my siblings and their spouses to go through Baumie’s things together with my Aunt Lainey. We shared so many stories as we sorted through the handmade quilts, antique dishes and black and white photographs. One evening my Aunt called me into the kitchen and handed me a check—another kind of inheritance from Baumie. I did the whole sputtered cough thing when I saw it. Aunt Lainey smiled. “Mother was good with money,” she said.

We traveled back to Ohio and the very next weekend, John was reading the classifieds again. “Listen to this,” he said. “Restored 1828 log cabin on 40 acres. Near Seneca Lake. Should we check it out?” John called the realtor and she wasn’t available to show it, but said that we were welcome to drive up and take a look around. We loaded up Jack and Cassie the dog and drove east on I-70. When we pulled into the drive and rounded the curve I understood what all the previous searching had been for. We were perfectly primed to appreciate the remarkable beauty of this place. I think my jaw literally hung open as we got a glimpse of the cabin on the knoll, saw the apple orchard and the bluebird boxes and the tree line of the woods swaying in the breeze. “Holy…what did we just find?”

The cabin was locked and the curtains drawn so we couldn’t see in. We sat on the porch and then took a walk, following the mown path around the perimeter of the meadow. There were butterflies all over the wildflowers and birds singing in the trees. It was obvious that someone had been taking care of and loving this place—nurturing it as a sanctuary for wildlife and for humans. Somewhere around the middle of the back pasture, Jack said “Gosh, I’d visit you guys here from college.” Even my eighth grader saw that this was a special place.

So, we took the plunge. We had looked at a lot of “scenic” ponds, my grandmother had instilled the love of land in me and then left us the means to afford it, and the owners had kindly waited until we were ready before listing the property (for one day only) in the Sunday Columbus Dispatch. When the Universe hands it all to you on a plate like that, complete with a sprig of parsley to make it pretty, what are you going to do? I suppose we could have waffled. It was a big step. But, I’m glad we didn’t.

And that is the story of how we found this place.


Sarah said...

Your blog is beautiful, all sun and hay-colored and steeped in the Ohio countryside that, believe it or not, I actually miss from time to time. I can´t wait to read more!!



DaveB said...

I knew you and John would find a home in nature. And thanks much for the willingness to share with others what you may find in the pasture, meadow or under a log! Looking forward to your posts:)
Dave B.

Colette said...

Holy cow...I am sitting at my computer in stinking hot Los Angeles, wishing I was in that photo of the orchard. I am so very happy for you. I have visited that farm/cabin - let's call it a fabin - and it is amazing! I've been there in winter. And I've been there in the summer. And I can't decide which season I like better (well, maybe winter, cuz it looks like one of those old-timey calendar photos). We are all so lucky to witness you living out your dream. I look forward to more slice of life entries. But mostly, I look forward to visiting YOU and that magical fabin. Lots of love, Colette

Julie Zickefoose said...

All choked up here. My gosh, we're practically neighbors. Seneca Lake is less than an hour from here. A little bird at FPC told me about your move and this beautifully-written blog. I envy your corn-yellow template; Blogger won't let me have anything but hospital green. Keep it up; you're off to a great start. Can't wait to hear and see more of your fabin in the meadow. I hope blogging is as richly rewarding for you as it has been for me.

Katie said...

Ah Perfection...A shadow, an echo in the back of our minds hinting at something we can't really pinpoint, a reflection in a rippled pond -- we peer, but she eludes us. I think when you open those wide, wonderful windows, breathng in the scent of late summer, you will likely glimpse her as she nods from the shadow of a passing cloud.

Kelly said...

I found you by accident, but WOW, that is a great story. AND, a beautiful place!