This is our first Autumn at StarField Farm. In fact, this has been nearly an entire year of firsts since we closed on the property in January of 2017.
While I’ve lived in the northeast my entire life and the march of seasons is nothing new to me, this is the first time I’ve been in a place where the natural world is front and center instead of a backdrop.
The woods around us don’t really care about us. They permit us to transit through and live beside them, but they were here before we were and will be here long after us.
Strangely, there is something comforting in that reminder of our impermanence.
Fall is an unmistakable reminder of change.
This nest had been in one of our peach trees. Some tiny bird was hatched here and is long gone, and the nest blew down in a storm.
Perhaps next spring, a new nest will be hidden among the peaches.
It takes a certain kind of patience to live in the woods.
I am learning how to listen and how to observe. Some days I am rewarded for that patience. This little creature tarried long enough for me to take his photograph.
Every day here brings a new discovery. I have no idea what these plants are called. They aren’t grasses and they aren’t trees, but some kind of leggy plant that flowers and then goes to seed. The red is astonishing, especially in dusk light.
And the pace of our lives is also changed. There is a mindfulness to simple chores like stocking the house with wood for the wood stoves. The morning ritual of stoking the fire takes on a meditative quality, somehow. The days seem to lengthen when we can pay attention to the moments. And even mundane tasks can take on a kind of joy.
And it’s not like we are living in any sort of primitive conditions: we have supplemental electric heat, hot running water, internet. It may sound like I’m romanticizing the whole rural life – a kind of carpet-bagging where suburban folks play country manor on the weekends and secretly mock the locals. That’s not who we are.
We chose this place because we wanted to live in an active farming community. We wanted to own land and become good stewards of it. We wanted to become part of the town and both support it and be supported by it.
I certainly don’t want to turn back the clock and have to survive through subsistence farming on an isolated homestead, but I do know that living in this more stripped-down way is a balm to my spirit.
Will I also feel this way when full winter hits and I have to crawl out of a warm bed to heat the house? Or will there come a time when I resent the demands of the physical work of having a home in the woods?
Based on my reactions to this place over this past year, I think not.
Besides, we have a tractor now. That makes it official.