Oh that? Just some trees. Well, trees I own. You know, if I believed in that sort of thing. Trees I own in the sense that they are safe for their entire lives – that kind of ownership. My sweetheart and I and any nearby friend we can stuff into the car have been visiting our gorgeous 20 acres every week or so since we acquired them, and it’s safe to say that my tentative little crush has blossomed into heart-palpitatingly tingly full-blown love.
I don’t get it.
We’ve owned our house and its one-acre lovely world of hilly trees and flowers for four years now, and though I do definitely love my house, I’m not in love with it, and never have been. I don’t think about the house when my mind wanders, and wonder what’s happening with the frogs and the turtles, the newts, birds, deer, the teeny cemetery, the nettles, the crumbling rock wall, the shack, and the thousands upon thousands of shades of green.
I enjoy watching the trees outside my bedroom window as they change with the seasons, but the transformation of our 20 acres seems intensely magical to me. Why? Maybe because I can’t believe that it’s all mine.
But maybe it has something to do with the fact that I first saw our house in May with all the peonies in bloom, and knew we would be best friends, just like that. Our house is pretty, I like pretty, the deal was done.
I first saw the land in a raw December, when we couldn’t cross the stream to explore all of it and I mostly stood in one place and stamped my feet and gazed around at all the bare trees, bare ground, and the little corner with the old old cemetery and its harsh cold stones. In my mind that was the land – cold and bare. Good to have, romantic and lovely, and definitely exciting, but at that time I was more in love with the idea of the land than the place itself.
Then spring came along, and (really, there is no other way to put it:) stole my heart.
I spent the first eighteen years of my life in a seasonless southwestern hellscape, and maybe that’s my excuse for always forgetting that little trick about winter: it goes away. Winter – these 12 winters I’ve irritatingly weathered – enters my bones so shockingly and completely that when I look at a winter landscape I can’t possibly imagine any beauty to it at all – the stark raw kind that people who like winter can appreciate, or any other kind.
Which, of course, explains why springtime is such a giant gift each year. This year has brought the extra giant gift of the land, getting to drive the five-minute idyllic drive along the river past the sheep and horses and tromping along, peering at this and that, watching everything unfold and unfurl and shoot up. My grandfather was a naturalist, and although I never met him, for the first time I feel like his granddaughter.
Every week the land seems completely different, and if I don’t go for two weeks in a row I can barely find my way around. It’s so rare that we are forced to find our way with no human-made markers to guide us, and I’m enjoying getting to know each cornerstone – the big rock, the twisted tree, the fallen log you can use to cross the stream.
We’re not going to do anything with the land for a long time. I’m happy about that. I want to spend huge chunks of time just feeling feeling my way around, watching it go to sleep and come back again, again and again.