It is October. The leaves are turning, the mist is settling in, and the sweet smells of the earth preparing for her fall and winter rest have begun. Coco and I spent a glorious afternoon the other day gathering chestnuts and acorns from our beloved oak and chestnut trees. These are the same trees we gathered from two Octobers ago, when so many unforseen country adventures still lay ahead. Now, here we are on the other side of all of it, and our old urban neighbourhood is home once more.
I prepared a post months ago to fill everyone in on just where this journey had taken us, but I didn't publish it for privacy reasons. I found myself uncomfortable with sharing too much of our family dynamic and schedule at the time. Now that we are all under one roof again, I can share openly that we took to our new life in the country like ducks to water. The chores and tasks that must happen to live remotely and with greater sustainability were a treasured rhythm for all of us. Chopping wood, planting, tending, weeding, harvesting, and celebrating each step of the way is an incredibly peaceful path. We watched with pride and grateful hearts as Coco quickly became so familiar with the land and her place in it. She will tell you that "harvesting" (particularly garlic) is one of her most favourite things in life.
Still, if you ask me, I will tell you that the two things I care mostly deeply about are my family's togetherness and our education choices for Coco. Despite the joys and gifts of our new life, these two foundational aspects of our family were challenged. Coco is little only this once, and Sean was missing a great deal of it with his commute to the city for work. We found that the beautiful house and land by the sea were no replacement for the very things we valued and cared for most.
In the months that passed until we could orchestrate our move back to the city, I wrote many posts left unpublished. The decisions we made were not ones taken lightly and the journey was both liberating and heart wrenching. I was always clearly guided, though, by my deep intentions for living on this earth and raising our daughter. Each day, what resonated most was the firm convicition that home is much more of a knowing and an intention than it is ever a physical space. Home is the people you love, the community you live in, the candles lit, the lullabies sung, the cookbooks open. It is the quiet of early mornings and it is the full moon on winter nights. It is knitting and crafting projects on the family table, and toys and dollies in baskets. Home is gathering together and rooting ourselves in whatever soil best nurtures us- even if that soil happens to be a small city lot.
Now that we have finally settled into our fall rhythm I am here to share with you one of those posts, written last April, three months before we moved back to our urban life. It speaks to where my heart was at the time and to the delicate art of appreciating something that you know will soon be lost. It's where we were. I read over this now with overwhelming love for the journey my little family has taken and with pride at how we navigated it together, and I feel so blessed to be living the story of where we are now.
It's so good to be back, my friends.
There is a farm near to us where we get our eggs. Turning right, at the end of a long, dirt road, we pull into the little farmyard. A huge walnut tree greets us as we walk to the barn full of eggs, produce, and tinctures and vinegars made from the harvest's bounty. We pick out our eggs and, in the fall, our apples and garlic. Writing down what we've gathered, we drop our money into the red metal box. The honour system. Most often, then, we take a walk. Past the rows of kale, where the corn grows in summer, we come to the orchard. Here, we greet the chickens, who faithfully work the land beneath the ancient apple trees as they search for grubs, grasses, and beetles. Despite how hard they work, they always come to greet us, hoping for a slip of dandelion leaf or two.
Of course, we had planned to have chickens ourselves. And bees. Our list was long and our hopes were so high a year ago when we took back to the land. I've often said, it was a dream come true. As I sit, crouched by the chickens at the farm, watching as Coco runs with abandon to greet them, my heart aches a little. We've decided to move back to our former urban neighbourhood. We will be leaving this, and our seaside land, for the likes of the city once again.
I've thought of how to put this for weeks and weeks now. At this time, all I can really say is that we have had quite the year, and the winter, which I love beyond all other season, was uncharacteristically long and dark for me. We were challenged, we dug oh, so deep, and we realized our land comes at too high a price- our precious time together as a family.
There is so much to share. As the sun shines more brilliantly with each passing day, I feel myself emerging from what has truly transformed all of us. Such a beautiful year, such challenging logistics, and some tough lessons in priorities, our relationship to the earth, and the land beneath our feet. I am heartbroken, and yet I can feel already that it's okay. Our family is full of excitement and anticipation, too. There is much good that awaits, and a new life in our old hood. But, for now, at the farm down the road, I'll crouch down by those chickens and offer them as much dandelion as I can, soaking up the beauty of rural life with the knowledge that, at least for this time in our lives, we will soon be leaving it behind. Not completely, though. The wisdom of the farmers we've met, the days by the sea, the dirt we have tended, those full country moons that cast long shadows with their brightness, these things will stay with us always, and guide us as we take homesteading to the city.
It will be a good year.