The Land

That’s the name, for now. “The Land.”*

Sister-in-law Gloria and entire family came for Easter picnic and christened our yard with jollity, sandwiches, and an egg hunt. Our first affair as hosts; our first trip not exclusively to do renovation work; our first experience of really “living” there, amidst the mottled shade, the songbirds, and all our work in progress.

What a wonderful day!

We tromped out to the farthest reaches of the lot for the first time — ensemble, singly, and repeatedly, seeing the vistas from new angles, discovering streams, ravaged woods (the previous owner was a heedless logger), mysterious shacks, and enough blackberry brambles to start a business in preserves.



Our picnic rested on a staging trestle between two ladders:

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Gloria found a fairy doorway:

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Deep in the woods some of the snow has still not melted:

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Tim found markers allegedly indicating property boundaries:


But we’ve also learned that the previous owner did not observe such niceties and logged wood from his neighbors, sometimes moving surveyor flags in order to enlarge his claim. So our boundary is somewhat ragged, and we have some neighborly relations to repair.

Even punctuated by tree stumps, the land is varied, complex, with glaciated rock outcrops and private hollows:

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Vernal rivulets crisscross, some of them in ruts left by logging tractors. Time will tell how much of these will survive the drier months:



There’s an old shack — mysteriously, it appears to have been insulated at one time. Was it an outhouse? A deer stand? A getaway? It is surely a folly:


But it faces — mirabile! — a partly failed pond:


Complete with collapsed dock and desiccated bulrushes, it’s already almost my dream of having a real pond. It needs some TLC, and perhaps some engineering. We probably won’t get to it in 2014; and we’ll need to consult with the town and perhaps the state to understand what diversions may be permitted to streams that are part of a greater watershed.


Back “at the ranch,” Oscar at our invitation had taken a maul to another shack, the one near the back corner of the house:


Well on its way to being able to be disassembled fully and carried off in a dumpster (or salvaged, if the materials can be reused).

We also erected the temporary kennel of fence sections bought from our builder Mark. This gives us a bit more flexibility for the dogs once we are living here in a camper:


There are a few spots that will require shoring up against diggers and escape artists, but it’s a start. Many happy starts today.

Meanwhile, Annie finished off some egg salad:


And Gloria found a spotted salamander in the cistern:


* For several years we’ve been “JohnandMarshland” when hosting Collins scrabble in Northern Virginia. Here we have the actual land itself (and it includes marsh!).