I would visit my mom's parents as often as I could. My grandfather and I shared a birthday and I always felt very close to him. As an older child and teenager, I would take extended stays during the summers and as a young working adult, I would try to visit one weekend a month. I found solace in the space, and the quiet, and the totally dark nights, and the alone time with my grandparents. I would return home recharged and ready for just about anything.
Well, I didn't marry a cowboy or a farmer. My Lobster is not even close - having grown up in Sweden, Southern California and Utah, he's a city boy, through and through. He once owned a pair of cowboy boots. But, boots do not a cowboy make.
Lobster loved my grandparents and he loves their farm almost as much as I do. It's in a beautiful, green little valley in Southeastern Idaho. The nights, without the city lights to challenge the stars, are still densely dark and quiet. The wind continues to tickle the grass and dry the earth, but it's not the same, now. My grandparents, who loved and worked the land are gone. And although the farm is still in the family, the real soul and reason for visiting is no longer there.
But, I still long for the way it felt. I don't get that same feeling when I look out over the "expanse" of my .20 acre lot. I am always looking for an affordable house on acreage. A place where I can get that peace and serenity back. I admit that our yard is larger than most current new builds, and I am thankful for that.
But...there are often times when it is not enough.
Once upon a time, my yard was quite lovely.
Once upon a time, a lot of my free time was spent out working the soil, tending to my plants and planning for more.
Motherhood knocked me right on my ample rear. After waiting to be a mother for so long, I thought I was well-prepared, but
For the past 7 years, our poor yard has been neglected and abused.
Neglected by me and abused by my sons.
If I had known that branches would be snapped from my stately maple tree and used to whack the rest of my shrubs past submission, I wouldn't have so lovingly put them in.
If I had known that the rocks I had lugged from the "leftovers" pile of a friend's rock wall and carefully placed to build new planting beds would be removed and smashed on the ground into tiny shards, maybe I wouldn't have made that choice.
If I had known that my pots - with plants living inside them - would be upended and discarded (and often broken) to check for worms, I would have used more plastic.
If I had known that a hole would be dug at the end of our patio and filled with water to create a mud puddle big enough to lose a bike, I would have....well, I'm really not sure what I should have done about that.
I wanted the boys to have a place to play where I wasn't saying "no" all day long and wasn't on their case all the time about following the rules. But in doing so, it became their space. Not only does it look like 2 ruffians rule the roost, but having been knocked on my ample rear, I stayed on it and it got even ampler.
I've decided that I'm taking my yard back. Oh, I'll leave grass for the boys to run and places for them to play and have a good time, but I've decided that I can't go buy property and live a farmer's life unless I use and take care of the land I have now properly. I may even find that I can be satisfied with what we have by using it thoroughly.
We have also really been trying to improve our self-sufficiency. We have been paying off our debt and trying to save more. My mom gave us a freezer a couple of years ago and I've been buying meat and other products in bulk to store there. We've been doing better at storing canned and freeze-dried food for emergencies. We recently bought a generator in case our power goes out. We've got firewood to help keep us warm. Planting a garden with vegetables and fruit is another way to not only add to our self-sufficiency but to save money, and eat healthily.
I should note that although Lobster loves the idea of saving money and being self-sufficient, he's not all that interested in working the land with me - unless it involves power tools or big machinery. He also definitely does NOT want farm animals. I've wanted chickens, ducks, and hopefully, a goat or two. To each of these, he has said, unwaveringly, "No."
This is something I know I will be doing on my own. I may be able to talk a couple of boys into helping, especially if it includes digging, or whacking. They really like whacking.
I was recently talking to Boy 1 about being thankful for what we've got. If we're always looking for the next thing to buy, we never enjoy what we have because there is ALWAYS something else to want.
I realized that by always looking for somewhere else to be, I'm doing the same thing. Other than moving, I can't change how close my neighbors are around me (love you, Ann!), but I can change my view and how I interact in it. Digging in the dirt and caring for the land we have is not only good for me, but it will teach my boys that taking care of what we've got is important. When I look out over my yard and am happy with and proud of what I see, maybe some of that longing will be satisfied.
I think a lot of what I'm longing for is actually the unconditional love that came from my grandparents and the child-like view that places can be magic and anything is possible. I'm not a child anymore. I know all too well that magic can be hard to come by.
But, it can be found.
I just have to look. And I just may have to learn to make it.
I think it might require a goat.