Friday, August 22, 2014

A New Land. A New Life

Varnum Mountain

Dave and I have bought some land in the small town of Temple.  It boasts a population of 500 (502 now!) and we're told Temple is where most of the artistic, old hippies live.  This land is something we looked for from the time we arrived in Farmington last year.

While we still lived outside of Portland, Dave and I did a lot of thinking about how to sell my house and move to Farmington.  Where would we live after the sale of the house?  How could the timing of selling my house, finding land and building a new house ever work?  How would we do this?  We started just cruising real estate on line and began to see a lot of houses in the village at very reasonable prices.  The idea to buy one of these houses that could be turned into apartments bloomed. We could live there while we looked for the land we wanted and eventually rent the place in town.  This is how we came to own an old Victorian house on main street.  We began renovating the first floor into a three bedroom apartment last October and lived at the Lovejoy camp a half hour away while we were under construction.  We moved into the apartment last December and started construction on the second floor apartment. This old house is being given new life and will become a wonderful income property for us.

Farmington has many eyes that have been watching the transformation of this house. A very pedestrian  town people are walking by the house all the time.  Many stop to view our progress.  If we are sitting outside on the porch we will frequently become engaged in conversations with people or just hear, in passing, "I love your house!"

But this is not where we want to live, on main street with the traffic sounds and the parade of people.  As sweet as it is to be able to walk to the grocery store, the movie theater, the restaurants for dinner, even to my office, we always planned to find land outside of town.  And I wanted it to have view of the mountains.  We moved up to the mountains, I wanted to be able to see them!

I went to my favorite psychic,Tracy.  Each time I saw her she would describe the land we were going to find.  At that time I had visions of seeing the entire western range with Mt.Abraham, Saddleback and Sugarloaf; the rounded peaks of these mountains with their purple ridges etched into the horizon as far as the eye could see.  But Tracy would tell me, "I'm seeing water, with moose walking down front, there are mountains, yes, but there's also a body of water!"  This was very confusing for me.

She also told me I didn't need to worry, that we were going to get this land by Spring or the summer of this year.  She would say, "this place has wonderful energy,  the house is all glass.  It's amazing and so beautiful with so much glass looking out over the mountains and the water".

I thought she was crazy and confusing someone else into my reading!

We found this property last March and explored it on snow shoes. It was damn close to perfect.  We closed on this land in July ... we now own an entire valley that overlooks 3 mountains and a lake .. and we're only five miles from Farmington.  There is an existing house with "good bones" that we have to completely gut and renovate.  As we stand in the front room there are massive windows looking out at Varnum mountain with the lake shimmering to the east where we catch glimpses of the Loons who nest on this end of the lake.  As we walk through this house we tear down walls and design it in our minds.  We are planning on even more windows ... lots of windows ... to bring those mountains into our living room and that lake into our kitchen and those fields, woods and other two mountains to the west into our den and bedroom.  We've been told there are Moose that walk down through the field in front of the house.

Yes, Tracy saw it all!

Last week Dave and I put on blue raincoats and rubber boots and went exploring on a dripping day with the intent to head deeper into the interior of this land.  There are two beautiful wooded streams that run through the property.  We stopped to admire the multitude of greens that dotted this scene with ferns lacing the sides of the stream and the deep green carpeting of moss on the rocks.  In one shallow pool Dave spied a Brook Trout!  There are small cascading waterfalls and groves of white birch trees.  There are purple trilliums and promising feathers of young balsam furs making their way towards the sun.  In one very muddy area we saw bear, deer and moose tracks.

Varnum Pond
I found myself thinking ... "and this is mine?!"   There is a deep feeling of amazement of the fact that we now own this land.  The house down South had a postage stamp sized yard, though it had woods up back that "my" crows liked to swoop into and spy on me from.  But, there was no land to really walk through, to explore, to get a little lost in.

Growing up the family spent summers by the sea in Scarborough on the farmland once owned by my grandfather and where my mother had spent her childhood.  Here I would leap onto my one speed bike and peddle like the wind on the old farm roads that ran through the fields of corn and pumpkins.  In the spring my father would take us into the surrounding woods to go hunting for Lady Slippers; at times we'd find too many to be able to keep an accurate count.  There were the tender, pink edged Mayflowers deep in the woods that had us dropping to our knees to bury our noses into the tiny blossoms for that intoxicating smell.  There was the haunting Whip-poor-will call at night whose voice would float through the open front door as we watched Red Skelton on TV with a view of the full moon dripping from the Atlantic over Richmond Island.  We had endless tide pools to explore at low tide and ocean waves to body surf at mid tide.  It was the classic summer for a kid, with hazy days laid out in front of me and no agenda except to go where my curiosity or desires led me, with enough open land and a mile long beach to escape into.  A luxury I took for granted back then.

And here I am, at mid-life with a mountain valley stretching out before me with no other houses in sight and a rekindling of this feeling of freedom.  I am, once again, filled with curiosity and a desire to explore and discover all that exists in this new acreage that is all ours.

But, you know what?  When I saw those tracks, distinct impressions of the others living on this land with us,  I realized we do not own this land at all; we are, simply, the new stewards of it.  We are moving into a valley that has already been the home to many others for a much longer time. I feel we will need to learn how to best fit into this new neighborhood, how to best do our construction without disturbing too much of these pristine woods and fields. To enter this sanctuary with respect for all those we share it with.

For the first time since living in Colorado back in the '70's I will spend my days away from the ocean and it's air tinged with salt brine.  Instead I will have the musty, acrid smell of ferns and the call of Loons on summer nights when our doors are open and we watch the moon climb over the ridge of Varnum mountain and flood it's glow into this lovely valley.

View of the western range from the top of Bald Mountain
A new land. A new life.

Loving you all back,