In four weeks from today we will be moving towards the mountains to our new homestead. Oh, it doesn’t look much like a homestead. It looks like a suburban style house from the 90’s on an unused acre of land with a workshop that is about to become a chicken coop. Our neighbors near, our mortgage double, but if I close my eyes and push away the anxiety of moving and inspections and packing, and “see” the new property for what it will be, I am filled with optimism and strength. A friendly small town. Baby goats. A thriving garden where there once was nothing. A view of the sunset. I haven’t seen the sunset in years, blocked in by trees and neighbors.
Google Earth has not updated the view of our present house since we moved here so one can see the tired house, the empty planting rings, the barren yard, a car backed up in what is now my potato patch. We have done miracles here in just two and a half years. Everything in life can be transformed by a little love, research, and hard work. Everything from a house and garden, a marriage, a friendship, to a new outlook and fresh perspective. Yes, this house and garden represent so much in life and has taught me some valuable lessons.
1. Have faith in the future.
Moving here fresh from heartbreak and a mere eighteen months after we lost everything, this house was a blessing. It represented new life, faith, a fresh start. A house of our own- not rented. Always have faith. Looking back, one can easily see all the “coincidences,” friendships made, sheer luck, and universal pulls to get us where we are. Even now, my house sold in one day, we found a house the same day, all is going smoothly thus far, the money showed up, the young military family in need of a nice home to raise their infant child precisely around the time of closing saw our house first….everything going on in the world around us is so much bigger and more controlled than we think.
2. Buy the best that you can afford.
I skimped this year. I usually buy a particular kind of soil to start my straw bale/permaculture/quick beds of my own design, but it wasn’t there this year. It seemed Miracle Grow (hello, Dow.) had taken over the shelves at the nearby stores. So, I opted for cheaper bags of soil. Lots of them. It’s just soil, right? Those beds look terrible. I wasted hundreds of dollars. If the seeds did germinate, they quickly died. In everything you do, just do it right the first time. Maybe I have always been a cheapskate, but that keeps biting me in my farmgirl derriere.
3. Expect surprises.
Being on this earth is such a blessing. My goodness, to wake up every day and see the great sky, the warm sun rising, the birds singing, the plants surrounding us, to see the people we love, and to learn and experience this day- such a gift. I love how Mother Nature gives sweet gifts, like wild sunflowers, and potatoes I didn’t plant, and hollyhocks. Elderberries that aren’t typical here in Colorado. Fresh rains in July, and cool breezes on a hot day, surprise trees, and places for wildlife to live. Surprise friendships that become incredibly valuable, great jobs, and moments to help others.
4. Leave a legacy.
In all you do, try to leave things better than they were. Whether that be cleaning up trash at the park, using less resources, offering a smile and compliment to a stranger or friend, or planting a tree, always try to serve. I hope this pear tree grows wild and fast. I hope the three month old baby moving in climbs its branches and loves it when he is older. I hope the tree feeds many and brings joy to the beholder. I may have paid for, planted, and tended to it, but it is not mine to benefit from. It is a gift to the future.
5. Don’t run from your true self and purpose.
In a blog post last year, when our shop was about to close, I questioned, “Am I nothing more than an herbalist?” Well, of course I’m not just an herbalist. I am a friend, a wife, and a mother, an animal lover, a nature admirer, and I have a few talents, but I am not just those things either. I am me. Individual. Specially created, me. What I was pondering when I uttered those words though, is if I could be something else, start a new career. My table is filled with dozens and dozens of single and compound extracts beginning their brewing process. I am at peace when I am gently clipping echinacea leaves and popping calendula heads into jars, and talking to the rose while I snip comfrey. I am an herbalist.
6. Learn to let go.
I am preparing so many new medicines because I am going to have to say goodbye. I could try to transplant everything I have planted but I have learned that if a plant is thriving where it is, it doesn’t necessarily want to grow somewhere else. I will take a few things but most will continue to live here, and I do hope thrive. I will not be able to harvest my sweet corn, or Aztec blue corn, or popcorn, or pumpkins, or all the tomatoes, or so many other things I have carefully tended this summer. It is hard to leave behind so much that we create, so much that we build, to start over. But we don’t really start over, we just start anew with more experience, more lessons, more faith.