daydreams from my room without a view
~ 4 minute read
I often dream about living on a parcel of land in a Saskatchewan river valley.
Our dream home sits on just shy of 30 acres of land, much of it winding up the valley’s slope through trees where fox and deer wander. There are writing cabins tucked into our hills. They’re filled with artists in the spring, summer and fall for retreats and workshops. There are trails that accommodate cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter. In the warmer months the trails expand their delights. They’re marked by a log bench, a tire swing, a secret garden, a stone shrine to our loved ones and nooks in the trees to pitch tents. Our son has a pair of tree houses tucked away. You’d better have a keen eye if you expect to find those.
The house is sturdy and warm; a two story with places to hide away with a book or a journal and more rocking chairs than one would think necessary. There’s an open air front porch off the kitchen. It has a long table and chairs for big group breakfasts. Two clotheslines with pulleys run from the corner of the front porch out to a post in the yard by the double wide doghouse bungalow. The doghouse has a porch too, which seemed like a waste of time and money when Blake was building it, but it’s a never ending joy to see Bird and Dill stretched out sleeping like they own everything.
Our garden produces potatoes, corn, beets, carrots, onions and three small crops of radishes per year. Blake built a greenhouse on the garden plot for his tomatoes and basil. He staunchly believes that his best crop came the summer after he played Vern Gosdin and Vince Gill in heavy rotation for the seedlings.
On the far corner of the front lawn there’s a trio of apple trees that always overproduce. I harvest and curse them with equal enthusiasm. “Look at all the apples,” quickly becomes, “What the hell are we going to do with all these frickin’ apples?” The fresh fruit attracts deer and then the dogs scare them off. Some years the apples get away from us and rot on the ground. They’re a haven for wasps and make almost everything into a miserable task – from mowing the lawn to breathing.
The back porch is situated for sunsets. It’s screened in on all sides and is spacious. It was built for summer evenings. There are often guitars and after-dinner coffees that get spiked with whiskey when travelers bunk in. Nights spent here tend to become mornings. The furniture is comfortable enough for sleeping. More than one song has found its start in this place.
A mama fox comes down from the hills every now and then to let me know that I have one too many laying hens. Without her I might have to decide to butcher one myself, so I’m secretly thankful. The roosts bear hand-painted signs with the five hens’ names: Dolly, Emmylou, Linda, Wynonna and Naomi. I’ve lost track of how many hens have borne each name. Except Naomi. There’s only been one Naomi. That damn bird is an impossible nine years old.
I have a toolshed that I write in… just like Annie Dillard talked about in The Writing Life. It’s insulated and I could use it year round, but it’s nicest from April to September. Sometimes I stretch out into the weeks on either side of those months with the assistance of the woodstove. Sometimes I stay out in the shed very late. Blake and/or Trip have come out to check to see whether I’m ok and have scared the living daylights out of me because I was so wrapped up in what I was doing. Once they got me so good that my knees went out. I yelled at them from the floor through tears of laughter.
We bought the land because of the location – close to the highway – but it was the barn that really sold us. The previous owners stabled horses for the neighbours and we carried on from their efforts. I was intimidated by it at first and had to trust Blake. I still don’t know a dang thing about horses. It’s embarrassing. I have an old paint (named Old Paint) who tolerates my stupidity, though no one can understand why. The first year we had her I brushed her and fed her apples to win her love. When Blake caught me doing it he asked how many apples I was giving her and I had to admit I had no idea. It was a lot. Blake put her on stall rest and when she didn’t get sick, he said he didn’t understand how I hadn’t caused her to founder.
There’s so much more I want to tell you about: the view from the kitchen window. Our rehearsal space. The way Blake’s mom makes it feel like the home fire is always burning when we’ve gone out to tour. Our son’s gallery that fills the wall along the stairs…
Perhaps another time.