Our little peace in Peacham is about a half mile up a dirt road, then another half mile beyond that, past the houses and the cow pastures, through the woods, around the bend…then, eventually…you are there. The town doesn’t plow that last half a mile, because…who’d be crazy enough to live there in the winter time anyway?! I have gotten several raised eyebrows when I have nodded my head in the affirmative to say “yes, I will be living there this winter”. Who knows, they may know more than I do. I mean after all, I am just a flat-lander who grew up in cities her whole life (and none of them in particularly cold climates either!). So… why?
I discovered Vermont when I was 17 and landed at Marlboro College to study Theatre and Sociology. I remember my constant awe at this new world. Vermont was like the land of all my childhood imaginings, where Hobbits lived and fairies danced amongst the fallen leaves. My dog Schnookle and I would take long meandering walks through those woods around Marlboro, lost in a reverie collecting techni-colored fallen leaves that I kept pressed in my school books. By the end of my four years there, I was sure that Vermont was where I would return to “settle down”. True to my word, once pregnant with my twins some seven years later, I set right to work to find a home in Vermont.
As a new family starting out, we opted for the affordable “starter home” that happened to be located in Barre, VT. We lived in that home for nine whole years…started a downtown business, raised kids, ran the business, wore down the marriage, closed the business…all incredible experiences. Worthy of their own writings and ruminations. But, none of those recalled what had captured my heart about Vermont and those magical woods and mountains. So a few years ago, I set out to find that again, and started looking at land…
It is important to me to create a lifestyle that is the least damaging to the environment, and the most nurturing to the land and its inhabitants. Therefore, I opted for “Off-Grid”. So much so, that I wanted the land to be far enough from any source of potential power as to alleviate even the temptation to “plug-in”. I drove up many dirt roads and looked at some incredible places…but it wasn’t until this place, this peace of Peacham, that I knew I had found it.
This 40.5 acres had been logged some years back. It was clearly prime for regrowth, rebirth, like the phoenix from the ashes. I think that was how I felt. I had been a bit beat up and bruised, worn down, but I was far from giving up. I was really only just beginning, as it turns out. It was clear to me that this land and I could help nurture each other to full and new health.
The first couple of years after purchasing the land, we came and camped out. Walked the land discovering its many personalities, secret nooks and treasures. Began harvesting the acres and acres of wild raspberries and blackberries, filling our freezers and sharing with friends and family. Already the land was giving, feeding, and inspiring us!
Then came time to make the transition, literally up-root and un-plug from our urban home and establish a homestead in this place. Again, many gave me a quizzical eye, others responded with the envious “I’ve always wanted to do that, but…” No matter the reactions from others, I don’t recall ever faltering from my determination and complete certainty that this was my truest intention. This was the move I had been meaning to make for a long time.
In fact, once I moved here to stay, now eight months ago already, I realized that this was not only the fruition of an adulthood dream to be sustainable and “get back to the land”. This has actually been where I imagined myself as a little girl. When I played in the hay stacks in the barn at the farm in France where I spent many summers, when I learned with awe how food was grown and harvested and prepared, when I read obsessively about different breeds of animals for food, fibers and land maintenance, when I admired and hung on every word of all the farmers and radical homesteaders as they shared their experiences… Indeed, I had always intended to ‘land’ here, to live this way. So those first weeks of being here in this place, day in and day out, I felt as if I were dreaming. I kept smiling and audibly gasping for joy because I could not really believe my good fortune. I mean, how many people really get to live out their most inner childhood fantasy?
So, that is why here. Here I combine dreams with life, and life with dreams. I am more isolated and alone that any other place I have ever lived before, and yet I am more whole and feel less lonely than I ever have before. Every minute I see the wonder and beauty, the magnitude of nature. I am humbled. I am moved. I cannot imagine where else I would want to be.