In One-Quarter Mile, Take the Next Straight

We drove home tonight after dark for the first time, after a lovely dinner with my parents in Waterville. They’ll be here to visit tomorrow and we may do some sightseeing, etc., depending on weather. Their first visit to our project and home. We’re tremendously excited.

On the road home: a fat and sassy raccoon ran across the glare of our headlamps and into the underbrush. But no deer or meese.

The past week, we now realize, has been one of those curious “turning point” weeks where we in fact maintain direction, but the world pivots around us. We devoted ourselves to getting the camper systems running, getting our gear stowed, and our habits recalibrated to two adults and three dogs instead of the hive and menagerie of my sister-in-law’s farm.

We don’t feel we’ve enjoyed full credit yet for regaining five hours of commute time daily — partly because we have continued to make (shorter) jaunts for supplies and parts. Marsh kicked off her work life with some writing production, but not as much as we’d hoped. But Tuesday we are really ready to hit it hard.

In the car this evening we talked about several “metas” for this project – one being our increased sense of mastery and ownership as we plateau the learning curves for a subset of technical areas: septic, roofing, HVAC, structural, pests, yard/soil/season, local resources, plumbing, electrical, the camper… In nearly every case I began with some degree of naive optimism (as indeed I did for the overall project), and in every case learned sobering realities followed by amassing practical knowledge. In every case we felt awkwardly dependent on our limited pool of supporters/helpers/contractors, but gradually came to the point where, for a given area, we felt we could make our own decisions confidently. Now that light is dawning for the project as a whole.

Not that we aren’t still dependent on others’ expertise; but our vision and management of our goals has entered a new phase of dominion. And, not coincidentally, being on-site now makes all the difference.

A note about care, as in “lawncare.”

You may have read about the debris left by previous owners. Abandoned and collapsed sheds, truck tires, bags of trash, broken glass just under the dirt everywhere. The trash collector told me the previous owner never put out garbage for collection — not once. And I know where every bit of it is.

This lack of care has saddened us — who would want to live long in a place after dropping every piece of refuse within arm’s reach? But we’ve also adopted it as part of our challenge, to reclaim this land, rehabilitate it. Some of it will take years, no doubt.

Today, as spring proceeded and greening branches and stalks produced leaves and buds and blossoms, I realized there’s a silver lining to our predecessor’s utter lack of “care”: he also never groomed, weeded, managed, raked, pruned, shaped, winnowed, planted, planned, or interfered. In other words, despite the detritus throughout, the raw nature of the place is undisturbed — every weed, berry, shrub, grass, and bramble is where it would have been. And we’re having a blast watching it all, identifying some of it piece by piece, celebrating each new find (this morning: violets! and are those blueberres?), and proceeding slowly and with care with any of our own plans.

Tonight I saw my first stars since arriving here. On a hazy night with encroaching cloud banks, the standard constellations (highest magnitude stars) were clearly visible — right down to the treeline, with no nearby cities creating light pollution on the horizon.

I yearn for the next truly clear night.