A Year of Picnics


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  • Rough day yesterday Alistair has had a vicious head coldhellip
  • Carpe diem Seize the day When I first watched Deadhellip
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Space Is the Place

We rarely get any snow here. Although we’re in the mountains of western North Carolina, and locations just west and north of us often get slammed whenever icy precipitation is in the forecast, the valley around Asheville doesn’t quite get snow with the regularity that higher surrounding elevations do.

So when we do, even if it’s just a light dusting, you better believe it is an EVENT! Snow came down pretty heavily for a bit yesterday morning. There is a peace that falls over the cove here when it’s snowing that’s rather difficult to describe. “A peace that passes all understanding,” might be the way my mom would detail it, and I suppose that’s a pretty accurate appraisal. All is still and hushed and muted, save for the hiss of the falling snow. The landscape turns monochromatic and captivating. I adore it.

Huxley asked if we could go play soccer in the snow, and so we did. Though snowing, the day was temperate enough to merit a family forest stroll, and so that followed. It’s funny, the way that places shape you. Yesterday morning, after letting the chickens out, I was walking back to the house and noticed a bit of usnea on the ground. Maria had recently told me about the many benefits of usnea, and how it grows abundantly around here, and how she puts it into soups as well as renders it into tinctures, to use as medicine (she is a WISE woman, that lady!). I put aside the usnea I found, and noticed a few other bits of it (it’s a lichen, and is often found clinging to tree branches), gathering them into a small collection. In my mind’s eye, I began envisioning putting bits of it into chicken soup, and pushing down handfuls into glass jars to be covered with alcohol and set aside to steep.

As I thought about making medicine for my own family from foraged bits of forest goodness, making my way back up to the house from the coop, my thoughts turned to just how much this place I’ve called home for almost 7 years now has shaped who I’ve become. Space really is the place, if you think about it. This woodland cove, it’s become part of who I am. Yes, I live here. It’s where my physical home is, but it’s also me now, really. My daily concerns involve this place-whether a murder of crows is cawing in the distance and what it might signify, how the beehives seem to be faring the massive weather fluctuations as of late, if the forsythia is clad in buds, the patches in the lower field indicating where the (many!) deer that share the cove with us recently slumbered, the way the wind swishes and groans through the tulip poplar treetops. Those simple, rhythmic occurrences, those gentle, yet profound gestures, they are what pique my interest and direct my attention now.

I’m so very thankful to be able to share this nook of earth with its fellow inhabitants. I lived a very transient life in my childhood and early adult years. To have put down roots here, for nearly seven years, and to have adapted to and adopted its flow is a gift beyond measure.

6 Responses to Space Is the Place

  • Brigitte says:

    BeAutiful and well put. We are In transition and starting to search for a place in Pennsylvania. I hope I find a place as copacetic as yours.

  • Lisa M says:

    I’m so jealous you got snow! I’m in Roanoke VA and we haven’t gotten snow yet… Anyway, I love the pictures! I really like the chickens—what kind are the white hens? We have Barred Rocks (love them), Amaracaunas, Buffs, and Silver Wyandotte’s.
    I am new to your blog and really enjoy it. Happy New Year.

  • Eliza Twist says:

    I was just having a very similar thought about a completely different sort of place as I watched folks in their middle age move through the streets of the city that I call home. It’s interesting to see how a city such as Oakland or Detroit (my two favorite homes throughout my, also, transient life), shapes its inhabitants. My work with people’s bodies was in a nearby city until our boy was born and now I’m becoming that much more familiar with the physical impact that life in the city has on its inhabitants. I must admit that while I don’t want to leave this place because it is so comfortable to me, I am not sure that I want to follow the course that I witness others following. Along with the interconnectedness that is fundamental to our experience is another basic reality of us humans, that we have choice in the courses that our lives take. So much all at once to be in the midst of, this life; no matter what the environs may be.

  • KC says:

    So beautiful. We went up to the mountains last weekend and stayed in a cabin. We were all alone and the silence was stunning. In the evening when the birds were asleep and the wind was gone it was like you could hear into the space between things. The place that usually gets drowned out by life.

    BTW I check out your chicken book from my library and devoured it today. I’m dreaming and planning. :)

  • Tara says:

    You have captured in words the way I feel about the land I live in and love. We’ve only been here 6 months but are growing our roots… cleaning, building, growing… and loving it! Thanks for sharing such a beautiful sentiment.

  • Georgette says:

    As custodians of the land and wildlife habitat we cultivate, hopefully preserve and restore the beloved places where our children grow and our dreams unfold into fruition in a sacred place we call “home”. Yours is a magical place. May you, your husband and child have many blessed years there. It’s a great gift to have such a home.l