Silent Summer

Finding contentment in my smaller (but still peaceful) garden in town.

Although I haven’t written much lately to speak of, my mind has been busy these warm months contemplating all the recent changes in my life, and considering the ones still to come. And I’ve definitely not been idle.

After my move from my old farmhouse in Hartford back to Glens Falls in February, I wasn’t sure what to expect come the spring and summer. I had enjoyed being only a few minutes from my job at the hospital in the winter weather, and liked being back in the comforting embrace of my small, easy to maintain house that was close to everything.

But how would I feel when the world got green again? Would I miss the fields and country life in Hartford? I didn’t know the answer to that question, and waited for it to come.

I spent the winter finishing up the small odds and ends of restoring my house in Glens Falls. Then spring came, and found me out in the garden as usual, working the overgrown beds my former tenants hadn’t tended, moving and dividing plants, restoring the yard and garden beds to (almost) their former glory.

With the help of friends I took the plunge and filled in the swimming pool I no longer used much or wanted, preferring instead to make more green space. Concrete, metal, and plastic disappeared almost overnight, and dirt and sod came instead. I watered and baby sat my new insta-lawn, entering into the equivalent of a very high-maintenance relationship.

But now there is room for my dog, Hannah, to run and play ball, for my cats to sun themselves while they chew grass, and for more garden beds to occupy some day (I just won’t be able to help myself, I know it).

Of course, periodically I went out to check on the farmhouse, and fortunately all remained well. My neighbors helped in the winter with snow removal and in the spring with brush-hogging the fields, and generally kept an eye on things. I hired a company to mow the yard, and tended the gardens there as much as I could.

But I found myself returning to Glens Falls with more and more of my possessions from the house and barn– clothes and knick-knacks, artwork I loved, tools and garden supplies I needed– making a home for them there, as well.

Gradually, during those visits to Hartford, I began to realize that although I still loved it and was proud of all the work I’d done to restore the house and property, in truth I didn’t want to live there anymore. It no longer felt like home. Or at least, like the right place for me to call home.

The realization was a sad but honest one, and led to months of struggling with the question of, well, what do I do with it now?

Part of me wanted to keep the house, attached as I was to the natural beauty there. I had the idea of turning it into an Air BnB property, or making into a nature preserve, and started doing research into those areas. For awhile it seemed like something might work out.

But starting a nature preserve proved too costly, and I had dealt with tenants before, resulting in a few good, but mostly bad, experiences. Whether long-term or short, vacation-type visitors, I eventually decided that I was probably setting myself up for trouble and stress, and putting the house at risk for damage and repairs. Had I worked so hard for anything like that to happen? And more importantly, did I really want to make even more work for myself?

Sitting on my back deck in Glens Falls most mornings, drinking coffee, listening to the sounds of my neighbors and the city waking up around me, so often I felt what I wanted now was to get out into the world again. To be a part of it, to be connected once more.

When I moved to Hartford several years ago with my (now) ex-boyfriend, it became my world, my life’s creative project. When I wasn’t working in my job at the hospital, almost all of my energy went into restoring the house and gardens, making new ones, tending the property, admiring all my efforts and the rural beauty there. I’d walk the fields and marvel at the view of the mountains from the back ridge, and search for fish and frogs in the small pond. I gave myself over to it. And it gave me back a wealth of beauty and inspiration.

But it also took a toll. And it was only in not being there anymore that I came to understand that.

In the work of doing everything in Hartford, I gave up trips to go hiking or kayaking. When I could have been on a driving tour or going to an art fair or visiting friends, I was working in the yard or on the house, or worrying over or planning what I needed to do next. Then my relationship ended. Winters seemed to get harder and longer, and loneliness and isolation set in ever more frequently.

Fortunately my house in Glens Falls never sold after I was done with renting it out and put it on the market last year. I’ll just go back for the winter, I told myself, try it, see what happens. That proved to be the best decision I made for myself in ages.

One good choice is leading toward others. I finally made the decision last week to put the farmhouse up for sale, to let other, permanent people come to live in it and love it, hopefully as much as I do. I had a small epiphany during a conversation with a friend, and it all came clear for me at last. I’m ready to let it go now, having played my part in the house’s life, and it in mine.

So I’m breaking my summer of unintentional silence finally, writing about it here. I feel peaceful and right about my choice, a sense that came the instant I had made up my mind. Funny how that happens sometimes. I guess the saying of it, and sharing it, just makes it all the more real and true.

Of course, the house won’t sell overnight. But it’s the shift in me that matters.

Now I’m looking forward to getting back out into the world more, whether by boat or foot, up into the mountains or onto the water, or just by strolling downtown, and doing more of the other creative work I enjoy. And it’s been just a matter of choosing really, what I want my life to be like. No more staying stuck in an old memory or dream, beautiful as it was. Time to embrace this new one, and the fresh sense of hope that it brings.