With a nod to Joe Walsh, I wanted to talk about meadows. Our meadows to be specific.
The house is located smack dab in the middle of 6.5 acres, which in turn are located smack dab in the middle of a 32,000 acre national park. Most of the land we’re borrowing from mother nature is a form of wetlands. The house is built upon the high point which towers a whopping foot or two above the surrounding terrain. Two preservation areas, with towering maples, oaks and cherries act as book ends for our home. And ringing everything, each with its own personality, are four little meadows.
Most of the windows in the house face the south meadow. They soak up the sun in the winter time and are shaded in the summer. Beyond the cut lawn where the kids play is a strip of paradise teaming with deer, rabbits and birds. There are clear site lines across hedgerows and saplings sprouting up playfully. Step on the nature trail we’ve created and head through the woods, past the river birches, crab apples and ash….
After walking through the woods you emerge into tall grass surrounded by towering old growth trees. The west meadow, isn’t really a meadow at all. It’s actually the septic field. I should probably mow it every year. Since we’ve been here it has grown up into a beautiful staging area for deer. A careful eye can even spot a blackberry bush here and there along its perimeter before continuing on the nature trail…
Along a clearing made by heavy equipment you emerge past a natural hedge row and are emerged into the largest meadow, the north meadow. This is where all the action happens. The path winds past bee hives carved into a small clearing. Closer to the house you arrive a vegetable garden, overgrown from an unattended summer. And then eventually an apple orchard buttresses the east preservation area. Some evenings I just stand in the orchard and listen to the world. Catching angles of shadow and light. The motions of nature out of the corner of my eye. To its north a hidden wet weather creek channels water to feed a nearby, off of our property, pond. For likely a hundred yards there is nothing but a sea of goldenrod and white butterflies dancing on warm summer breezes…
The most beautiful and natural meadow is the east meadow. One small path leads to a vantage point by our “pond”, which is really just a frog laden depression in the earth that holds water nine months a year. But the real vantage point is from the driveway, especially as the sun sets. The rays filtering through six acres of leaves and branches, painting the most wonderful scene imaginable. When we first saw the property we could tell that someone had been using the east meadow as a through way, marked by twin tire marks through the grass. Now the only nod to humanity is an active bird house I planted on its edge well before we ever broke ground. The grass turns to a sea of water during heavy downpours and afterward becomes alive with creatures great and small. There is one week in spring when the entire meadow is covered in small yellow flowers. It looks almost staged.
And that is why we love this place, or certainly why I love it. Every week of life is a roller coaster of ups and downs. Most days it’s like life is sitting on my chest and won’t let me catch my breath. Being able walk out amongst the meadows is calming – it makes me feel alive again. Any thing is possible. A compass.
I’m sure there are greater vistas and smaller: forests, deserts, seas, and meadows. And I’m sure those with access to them find equal solitude, hope and inspiration in them.
When life gets you down, find your “meadow” and spend some time there.
Just maybe get a bench.
I really need to get something to sit on and stay a while.