Nearly everyone we have met since moving here tells us the same story. They know the house, yes. They walked through it, and passed it by. It was on and off the market for five years. We saw it on May 14, 2005, and four hours later, placed an offer. The next day, it was ours. We were its.
How could we resist? That first hot spring afternoon, when we walked up to the highest point of this 95 acre parcel, we knew. Tree-covered hills unfold to the west and south, the even green broken by emerald meadow patches. Blue misted mountains stand farther beyond to the east, running north to south. Closer by there are ponds east and west, homes to migrating geese, blue heron, myriad song and soaring birds, turtles, and snakes. In the nearest fields, acres of flower-flecked grass wave. Beauty everywhere.
The agent was careful to show us the house and barns after taking us up the hill. Once the heart of dairy farm milking over 100 cows, the many barns were—and still are—various stages of disrepair. Nevertheless, the house had one feature that called: the footprint of the original 1840s farmhouse, opened into a 20 by 30 foot, axe-hewn-beam-framed hickory-floored room, with space for a piano, for dancing, and during our first two months there, for everything else.
We are bringing the farm back to life as a sanctuary for making art and ideas. And for everything it is taking from us in time and effort, it is giving back, immeasurably. Though we did not expect it, the challenges of living here are growing us in line with our emerging mission as those who can and want to make it happen.
The farm is teaching us about vital art. Life on the farm is awakening our senses and educating them to the rhythms of the natural world. It is demanding that we stay in touch with our freedom to imagine alternative ways of living, doing, and being. It is making us create—because we must—the relationships with each other of respect, care, and love we need to thrive.
Our painting and planting, hammering and animal care, is teaching us, above all, about our responsibility, as humans, to give back to the earth the quality of life that it is, moment to moment, giving us. The parents take care of the kids. The kids take care of the animals. The animals take care of the earth. And the earth gives back to us—as stories that appear in What a Body Knows, as sounds appearing in Plectrum, and as spaces to dance.
1. The barns