A new year and a new beginning

My dream of "living in the woods" has finally become a reality. Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to have a home in the woods, where nature was close and the sounds of civilization were far away. I remember my dad telling me stories of a hermit he met while he was out tramping the woods (he called it hunting, but it really wasn't). I was fascinated that someone would be willing to live far away from everyone and be alone, not expecting anyone to stop by, and living off the land. I am not in that category - I still have contact with the outside world, but I do have more peace and quiet and a more restful home.

It was a long road to get where I am. It is never easy to give up a home that you have been in for a long time. I lived in Mendon for over 35 years, and worked hard at having a garden and homestead that satisfied and sustained me and my family. But, it was time to move on. Taxes were increasing, the area was getting too crowded, and I could no longer bear the expense and time it took to maintain that home. My quest for something simpler began, and I found my place in the woods.

Richmond, NH is just far enough away from everything to be the ideal situation. I can be in Boston in two hours - if I book it and travel not at peak traffic time. Brattleboro, VT is just over the river and offers lots of entertainment and several bookstores and lots of interesting shops. I do have to travel 10 miles to the nearest convenience store, but I am used to driving so that is not so difficult. I also have a very long and winding dirt road to navigate, so I need to keep an eye on the weather and realize that I may not be as spontaneous in my outings. But it appears that is not a great challenge as I can set my own schedule and be very flexible.

My gardening has only just barely begun. I did get in some garlic plants in November, so hopefully they will be the start of my new farm. I do have 35 fruit trees, mostly apple, so my pruning days are looming and I will need to start that task soon. Since I acquired the property last January,  I did a hard pruning on them, as they were not well cared for and needed to be brought into line. I had virtually no apples - part of that was the pruning, but also the porcupine that I found I had, as well as voracious squirrels who ate every last one. Sorry, deer, I guess you won't have any fruit to snack on, though I am finding that you are enjoying the tips of the branches. I spent some time last week tying Irish Spring soap onto the trees - I've always heard that works so we will see if that is true.

I have almost 50 acres, and most of that is wooded. Mike and I have been slowly exploring the property, and we found evidence of moose up the hill last week. During the summer and fall, I had lots of visits from turkeys - several of them would come through the yard, feeding on the meadow grasses and especially enjoying the poke berries. I would see the branches bending as they made their way through the yard. The night camera revealed an eight-point buck visiting, but I have not seen any deer during the day. It's great to see the tracks and spoor of many creatures, and wonder if I will encounter more of them in person. We had a pair of hawks nesting nearby, and my favorite were the bluebirds who took up residence in the three bluebird boxes I put out this summer. What a treat!

As I look forward to this next year, I realize how grateful I am to have an opportunity to start anew, with a clean slate to begin my adventures in NH. I have met a few neighbors - most of them avid gardeners - so I feel right at home. The serenity here is just awesome, and I eagerly look forward to discovering more about my new home and environs. There is a spirituality to watching the seasons unfold, and creating a new paradise here in NH. All's right in my world.

Looking at the new year with new eyes,