Transplanted

IMG_4590It’s something that I’m still not able to wrap my mind around, honestly; how less than two months ago our lives were completely contained in a 900-square foot apartment and now we inhabit more than 10 acres of land. That’s more than 2 million square feet… if you’re keeping track. Our house, of course, occupies only a small percentage of that unimaginable square footage, but it’s still a drastic change.

I suppose this must be what it feels like to be one of my herb seedlings. You grow and grow until you fill your allotted space — your roots firmly crammed against the container walls. Then, suddenly, you’re yanked up by your hair and dropped into a totally new universe. Instantly, your perspective is changed. You thought the world was small and you needed more space, now the world is endless and you IMG_4565find yourself scrambling to put up walls to contain yourself. Once large and learned, you’re now small and ignorant.

Sitting here on what remains of our apartment’s furniture, I’m struck by the realization that our lives (like our furniture) will now have to expand to fill this large space. Somehow I know — just like those seedlings — within a season or two, we’ll be contented and growing again.

With our home offices set up, the kitchen fully stocked, and the holidays nearing an end, we’ve begun exploring our property in greater detail. On Christmas Eve, in particular, when we finally had a bit of snow to confirm winter’s arrival, the sun came out and beckoned us to go exploring.

Living on a peninsula means a never-ending parade of colorful clouds and interesting weather dialogues… I don’t think I’ll ever grow tired of it.

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Looking out into the giant clearing with its hills and valleys, I try not to be overwhelmed by the task ahead — deciding how to best use the land while also keeping it beautiful. In the meantime, James and I enjoy exploring the different regions within our 10-acre kingdom. Within minutes, I’m easily brought back to childhood when exploring the two-and-a-half acres our house sat on filled my imagination with all sorts of ideas and made-up locales. In honor of childhood me, I decided we should make up names.

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In our eastern woods, winter’s stark landscape of silver and brown naked trees has made very obvious our only evergreens. They’re a handsome group of eastern hemlocks. Standing beneath these giants, watching a muted winter sun shining through their needles, I dubbed the hill “Evergreen Grove”. I’m trying to imagine what Evergreen Grove will look like in summer when the maples, ash, birch, and beech will make a dense, emerald canopy and the forest will be teeming with life. It’ll be a magnificent place!

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Another exciting place on our property, we named “Orchard Hill”. Right now, it isn’t very deserving of that name except for the “hill” part. It’s the tallest hill on our property and affords some very scenic views. The “orchard” part will come in time, of course. Right now, it’s overrun with a dense population of sumac running up, down, and all around, fighting each other for light and soil. Sumac are very stubborn opponents and — with their beautiful autumn foliage and red fruits in winter — are hard to hate. Someday, this hill will be alive with apple, pear, and cherry trees — enough to keep our freezer happy!

My most favorite place in our little 10-acre kingdom has yet to be named. It’s a narrow ridge that stands above a startlingly steep ravine. Standing there, between two large junipers, you can see for miles out into the valley and hills beyond. On this spot, the sunsets are especially breathtaking. I enjoy staring out over the valley, letting my mind wander off far into the distance in daydreams while being surrounded by the peaceful quiet that swaddles me like a warm blanket even when it’s chilly out.

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We began 2011 knowing it was to be a year of change for us — knowing that it would likely mean “the big move” would finally happen. Now that 2011 is ending, I find myself standing on the highest ridge of December, looking back over a year full of ups and downs. Even in the darkest days of winter, when life’s failures and shortcomings can look bleakest, I believe it’s possible to see the beauty and blessing of it all. That’s my New Year’s wish for all of you: may your new year be filled with the ups and downs that create beauty and blessing.

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~ by Jason on December 31, 2011.

21 Responses to “Transplanted”

  1. Jason, great pics! Have you and James read the book “The Blueberry Years”? I read it this past year and I thought of you guys and starting a rural life from scratch…. Especially when your blog mentions your future orchard! Happy New Year!!
    Carrie

    • I’ll have to look into that book, Carrie — sounds like a fun read. I’m sure future posts about orchard calamities will ensue in a year or so when I start putting actual trees into the ground. Step one, though, will probably be a deer deterrent fence of some sort!

  2. Your description of our Lane is enthralling. I remember our first days & weeks here 16 years ago… we felt the same, totally in awe of the absolute beauty. Today, on the last of 2011… we love this place even more. We wish you a blessed, fulfilling and happy new year in your new home and new county. B & T

    • Thanks for reading. 🙂 I hope in 16 years James & I can say the very same thing about our little piece of heaven, here. Happy New Year!

  3. Beautiful pictures and verbiage as always. You must publish a book of these items. Hugs, and blessings for a wonderful 2012. Note change of address for my e mail.
    Sally

  4. Jason

    Thanks for a wonderful New Year’s gift!

    I hope you marked the spots so that you can take pictures of the same views as the seasons change.

    James (The Older)

    • Thanks, James. 🙂 There are some land features that I think will help me find the same spots in the next season. I think the trickiest part will be deciding when spring has actually arrived.

  5. Great entry! Happy New Year to you both!

    I would suggest you might try to make the red sumac a friend instead of an opponent however. Red sumac is edible and according to my wild edibles field guide, you can make a nice sumac drink from it. Here is what it suggests:

    “For cold drink. When ripe, the hard berries are covered with acidic red hairs. Collect the entire fruit cluster, rub gently to bruise the berries, and soak for 10-15 min. in cold water. Remove the cluster, and pour the pink juice through cheesecloth to strain out the hairs and any loose berries. Sweeten to taste and chill; tastes like pink lemonade. Gather the clusters before heavy rains was out most of the acid.”

    Check it out and let me know what you think. I have been studying wild edilbes quite a bit. I just got back from my primitive camping trip on Lake Ouachita (Arkansas). My business partner (Josh) and another friend made the trek with me. During the winter, wild edibles are pretty scarce. We did try pine needle tea. It is full of vitamin C and taste pretty yummy…kinda similar to green tea but a little more citric. Anyway, thought I would share that with you. Love you guys and hope to see you soon!

    • Well, the good news is that even if I declare all out war and clear Orchard Hill of every last sumac, our land is still sprawling with them so they’ll be gone but certainly not forgotten! They tend to crowd out everything and reproduce very quickly.

      I’d been reading about their edibility but didn’t have any recipes/advice about how to eat the fruit (thanks). I have a feeling ours have been washed out by rain and snow now that it’s this late in the season. You’ll have to help me harvest some of them, though, when you come visit! Love you too!

      P.S. Pine needle tea sounds interesting! If you like primitive camping, I think you’d have a blast camping out on one of the Manitous (islands in Lake Michigan).

  6. Hello–a possible name for the unnamed part of your property (the final pic in the 12/31/11 post– “Yet-to-be” Valley (or “Yehtu Beh Valley” so that people can ask how it got its name!) Wonderful landscape! How fortunate you are that you can enjoy all of God’s wonderful creations on your land! Enjoy! (But I don’t think I have to tell you that–you are doing an exceptional job of enjoying it already!

    • Thanks for reading, Gina, and for your thoughtful suggestion. I’ve gotta ask, “Is Yehtu Beh a real phrase from a langauge?” It really LOOKS like it is.

  7. Exceptional! (both an additional comment and a correction to my typo)–ha!

    • I edited the typo in your original comment. 🙂 I know I’ve made typos in comments on other blogs and had a small fit when I couldn’t erase my mistake!

  8. Beautiful just beautiful…

  9. WOW! I am so happy for you guys. The pictures and your words are so beautiful and poetic and the property looks fantastic. I hope I can drive up sometime and see it with my own eyes. I regret that I didn’t get to see you both off and give you a hug so I am sending a virtual hug!!! Blessings in 2012 to you and James…..and thank you for staying in touch. I love hearing about your lives. Sunny

  10. Lovely, lovely, lovely. Can’t wait for a visit. We are missing you both.

  11. What about “Kingdom Ridge”…

  12. Thanks for the New Year’s wishes! Love your property… congrats! Definitely a place for some dreaming…

  13. Wow! Your new place looks amazing. Congratulations! I know you will be very happy there– who wouldn’t? I am looking forward to seeing pictures of the landscape in the Spring and Summer.

    Happy New Year! (and thank you for the lovely Christmas card). Best wishes!

  14. Name the unnamed place “Sunset Ridge”

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