I recently embarked on a project to clear my land. It is part of an overall project to take my property, the house and the grounds, into my home, my land. I started last August. It has been a daunting project. I changed the function of almost every room in the house. Each furniture move and paint stroke has made the house more comfortable. My goal is for people, including me, to feel invited to enter and relax. I haven’t exactly finished anything. I reached a point just before Christmas that I could stop the interior work and host a few parties. When I was ready to return to work after Christmas, I realized it was winter and I needed to work in the garage while it was cooler. Every year I have waited until summer and then the heat makes working in the garage unbearable. Each week of the winter and early spring, I sorted through clutter in the house and garage. I gave away stuff; filled trash cans and recycle buckets. Still, there is so much more.
It has been a painful process. Sometimes it has been physically painful, like the day I stepped off the second rung of the ladder onto a concrete floor, once for each leg. Most of the time, it has been emotionally painful for me. Can I dare to color the walls with paint? Can I dare to move large pieces of furniture? Can I throw away what I don’t need? Why is every item a battle? Can I dare to pull order out of the chaos of my life. Each stroke of color has encouraged me; each bag of trash removed has made it easier for me to breathe. This spring, as I was ready to get back to the interior decorating, things happened that made me turn my focus to my property.
I love my property. My house sets in the middle of 2 acres of heavily wooded land. Some of the wood is trees. Some of it is overgrown privet hedge. The back of my land slopes down to the clearing where the house sets, then down to the creek that runs when it rains, and then rises to meet the street. My driveway weaves through the trees that line its sharp drop to the creek and quick rise to the garage. The view from the street is just a concept of the drop to the creek, but leaves everything else to your imagination. My brother moved to this street first. I was drawn to the mystery of the forest every time I drove by. Even now sitting in the midst of the forest, I can hear the persistent call of a bird and wonder where is he and who is he calling?
My last house was on a city lot, in the middle of an ordinary neighborhood, not far from a busy street and the high school football stadium. From my bedroom, I could hear my neighbor’s phone ring. Cars, sirens and traffic noise were always in the background. The windows were small. The house was always dark. Outside, there was always a haze of artificial light. Yet, my house was always full of life. There always seemed to be a reason to invite people over. And the people came, and usually in large numbers.
Then I moved to my sanctuary, my special place, and the people stopped coming.
Slowly some of my braver friends dropped hints that my driveway was intimidating. They weren’t quite sure which driveway was mine. What if it wasn’t the right driveway? Would they be able to turn around? To my surprise, they didn’t find the mystery of my land intriguing at all.
Here is a secret. Until yesterday, it was a secret to me too. I would have been frightened by the driveway, too.
And as I ponder my unapproachable property, I have to wonder is this a reflection of my life. (time frame Sept-June)