Tuesday, August 28, 2007

My House in the Country

If I'm not quite a city sophisticate, I am definitely not a country girl. I've lived most of my life in or near large metropolitan areas--Boston, Nurnberg, Oklahoma City--and some years in the beautiful coastal towns of Scituate Massachuetts and Provincetown on Cape Cod.
Today I live in a college town surrounded by farms. JB and I moved here two years ago when she insisted she would no longer commute hours to her consulting job. I followed kicking, screaming, and sulking.
We bought a moderately boring ranch house on a cul de sac bordering a large town park. We knew only a few people--work colleagues of JBs--but we at last had a yard with full sunlight. That meant I could garden. And the yard had a shed that after insulation, wallboarding, painting, and heating became JB's Magic Cottage.

It's been two years. I marvel at my life here. First off, there are trees and farms and back roads and hill towns and freshly grown fruit and vegetables at every turn. In the spring we start with asparagus, then strawberries and blueberries, and currently we're up to peaches and summer corn.

Secondly, people are really nice. Genuinely nice. It's a small town way of being, I think. You know the plumber or the nurse's aide is probably also your neighbor, so decorum and thoughtfulness tend to dominate.

Third, I am living a bit of a country-bumpkin life. I often go to a Wednesday night auction where I might bid on a box of anything-goes for $ 5 or $ 10; I 'm landscaping my yard by hitting the Farmer's Market once a week and picking up whatever plants they're selling; I'm meeting friends at the hole-in-wall Smithsonian Restaurants on Friday nights; I'm walking from my backyard into a park with magnificent tall tall pine trees, a couple of little lakes, creek-side picnic sites, and slumbering trails.

And this weekend along with JB I'm visiting our friends' family barn:

I can't tell you much about this particular barn, except it's been in the family for years and years. It is a rock solid, authentic, mystical barn. It sits almost directly on a side road. You walk out the back door and into a meadow where a family member has plowed a thin path to walk through, which you do because you come to a trail in the woods for a short distance until it spills out into a secluded pristine lake. There our friends have a boathouse tucked into the woods and out come the kayaks and canoes.

Kayaking on this lake is seeing dragon flies glide and hearing frogs sing and ducks splash. It is paddling along with a simplicity that puts you smack in the natural order of things. It doesn't take your worries away, and I had some on this day, but it places them in a larger context.

Last summer and this one, we've planned one full day with our friends at the barn. JB and I brought lunch--tomatoes from our garden, JB's fresh-corn salad, french rolls with cheese and deli meats. And my peach cobbler--the first time I made it, with just-picked local peaches, and it was so awesome it was gone in a flash.

We laugh, we kayak, we catch up, wind down, eat, play pool, read, stretch, and we watch the bats come flying out of the chimney across the street just at dusk--more than a hundred of them using their precision sensors to come within inches of you but speed by without a touch.

The barn itself is so authentic it's like being there a hundred years ago. Our friends' parents have put in a kitchen and living area, a bath room, set up a pool table, and made a few bedrooms from old horse stalls--but mostly the barn is as it was and always has been.

As the afternoon fades, it takes takes on an ancient feel. We plan to grill steak but the charcoal is too old. So we eventually build a raging fire outside, wait for the flames to settle down, and cook the steak to perfection. We are having stuffed zuchinni with cous cous, corn on the cob, tabouli, wine (not me), and we do all this in slow motion.

We snug into the make shift living room, listen to 60's music, laugh and become quiet. As night settles in, we are definitely in a sacred space. You can feel it. And you can kind of see it. (Anon, look closely--there is a figure in the photo on the right.....)

It's the end of the weekend. I have seen bats and dragonflies. I have paddled upstream (ha!--nothing new there!), eaten food harvested that morning, relaxed in a sacred place with talented friends.

It's not everything, but it's a pretty easy way to live. I like it.....

Oh! I almost forgot: JB' watering cans. Here's a finished one she puts decorative paper over plastic and decoupages it. She sold 14 at our yArt Fair. Pretty cool, huh...


  1. I always wanted to have a big red barn for a house. I have an architectural plan for it in my mind and it includes a loft where I could paint and a big hall where all my friends could party and then private sleeping quarters. Now all I need is a farm! :-) The images of the food looks delicious and what a cozy place! I bet it's beautiful during the fall and winter.

  2. As a barn fan and a farm fan, this is a dream house! How cool! And I think my mom *needs* one of JB's watering cans ...

  3. I SO MISS living in the country again beacuse of this post! I laughed when you described "slow motion" :)

    KJ, there are THREE FIGURES in that photograph! HA-HA!!!

  4. ces, you don't need a farm to have this red barn. it sits right on the street, with a meandering backside. and ces, i share that big red barn with you, remember.

    melissa, i think jb's taking orders!

    anon, oh you are soooo clever. yes, three spooooky figures....just for you.


  5. Heehee, Cookie will be sending you back FIVE spooky figures tomorrow KJ!

  6. "It doesn't take your worries away, and I had some on this day, but it places them in a larger context."

    Isn't that what living is all about? People go on looking happy and content in order to be functional but we never know what they feel and think inside.

  7. I wish I could visit the barn!

    Oh, and I was born in Oklahoma... Enid, to be exact. :)

  8. anon, oooooh. very spooky!

    ces, i want to be pretty much be the same on the outside that i am on the inside. i don't do so well putting on a happy face. i do it but it's not something i do easily.

    liz, i lived in norman for two years.

  9. I did not say anything about putting on a happy face. I think you are thinking about somebody else.

  10. What an Awesome Barn!
    I love how everyone wears an outfit that matches their canoe. hee-hee!
    JB's watering can is gorgeous!

  11. kj, your life in the country looks like absolute bliss. my husband and i look forward to someday making it back to that kind of life. i miss it....but, in the meantime, this post is good soul food to tide me over. ;)

    lots of love,

  12. City life can be exhausting.

    I just love JB's watering cans. My mom will flip when she sees one of those.

  13. gosh i hope i get to visit this someday in person! awesome!!!

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