Dandelion Forest shall live on as my love letter to the earth, in this blog, in my personal herbalism. It’s my “company” name, although it’s also the name I gave this little corner of the world we inhabit. But we’re leaving. And it’s mostly my doing. Actually, it’s pretty much all my doing. My husband would stay here. He likes puttering around the property. But I have had plans to work on the side garden for at least 3 years and that never manifested. Every time we travel, which we are doing more of, I fall behind in tending my big garden and never catch up. The orchard is overgrown despite me planting a pussy willow grove as my last attempt to tame some of the wildness. The land just wants to do its thing and I don’t have the strength or the will to manage it. And I’ve finally admitted it. It used to be I would yank up brambles and bittersweet. I’d follow the roots through the dirt to try and get every last one of them. Now they just seem to be stuck in the ground laughing at me. “All those years of pulling us up and now you can’t. Pllllttttt!”
So…uncle. But there is more to this story….
First off, let me just say that a wonderful family is going to live here next. And today, I just learned that they love doing yard work, their little kids following along with their pretend lawn toys. I can just picture it. And it makes me smile. All the hours I spent in my gardens, with my hands in the dirt. It was glorious. I find it so strange that I’m ready to leave this all behind. But, I really am ready. Boy oh boy, will I miss my herbs though. But I will have a new challenge, and that is foraging and finding herbs in new wild places I have yet to discover. And there is always Mountain Rose Herbs, which is my favorite herb supplier. I think there will be wild places. Because we are in the corner of the town that is a little more woodsy than the downtown area, right on the border of another town I had considered and it reminds me of Princeton.
So where are we going? We’re going to a 55+ community nearer the two of our kids who still live in Massachusetts. It’s a different part of Massachusetts for us, south of the Mass Turnpike. It’s the next town over from our daughter and a few towns over from our son. Instead of being 70 and 40 minutes away from them, we’ll be 15 and 25. Our new place will have an extra bedroom for our other daughter and her family who live in Connecticut, when they want to come visit. And a big loft area where we can put out mattresses for the kids. We grew up in suburbia (Winchester, MA), moved to suburbia (New Jersey), then lived in this rural town for most of our adult lives. 36, to be exact. I think it will always be my favorite place I’ll ever live. But it’s good to be returning to suburbia in this next chapter of our lives. I never want to move again until the kids make me, haha. This new house is about the same size as our existing one, but we will be able to live just on the first floor of it if our mobility gets impacted by either age or injury. And everything is closer. The joke about Princeton is that it takes 20 minutes to get to the nearest store. (We have some general-type stores closer than that, but no big ones.) And the new place is a townhouse, and we’ll belong to an HOA (I swore I would NEVER!), where there are some meh rules, but most of them are okay and they take care of the lawns, landscaping, and snow removal. It helps that my sister lives in a community like this, albeit in Georgia, and I thought it was a cool place to live. A simpler life.
When my kids were growing up, there was a family in town whose grandparents lived the next town over. And they were at all the grandkids’ sports events (I’m sure other ones, too, but their girls were my girls’ teammates, so that’s where I saw them). I want to be those grandparents. I still miss those days of my kids’ activities. And, speaking of grandkids, our new place has a pool, which the grandkids are going to love. I can see sleepovers of all the cousins in the future. I have “Nana plans.”
Our New Community
Because of all the things I said at the beginning of this post, I started looking at houses closer to the kids. But none of them felt right. And the big thing about moving at our age is plugging into a new community. We have such a great one here in town. It was so easy when we had kids. So, I started looking at a few 55+ communities. This community we are moving to had homes that kept showing up on Zillow. So one day, as I was coming back home from my daughter’s house, I decided to stop by and see what it was like. It was a Saturday.
I drove in and saw pickle ball and tennis courts and a whole bunch of people using them. As I drove around the community, I saw people out walking their dogs. The place had a happy energy about it. I had to find out more. The rest is history, and this is already a long post, but one fun “coincidence” (there are no coincidences), is that my husband was on the (speaker) phone with our finance guy (Matt) trying to figure out money logistics, and when Matt asked where we were moving he exclaimed, “my parents live there!” I asked him if they liked it and he responded with an enthusiastic “they love it!” That seems to be the case with everybody we’ve met there. And we’ve met people through his parents inviting us to a community coffee. He mentioned that his parents were always busy now. And one person I met said “we have more friends than our kids do!” So, as I said, it has a happy energy. I felt it, and it keeps getting reinforced.
Our Last Christmas
Our buyers are graciously letting us stay here while our new house is under construction. The last little corner of this community we are moving to is being built. We will still be looking into trees out of the back of the house. So, while still furiously purging all that we’ve accumulated these past 26 years (in this house), we also can enjoy a last Christmas here. Winter, once Christmas is over, is always an enjoyable time for me. I love that the frenzy of the summer is just a memory and I can rest. There will be less rest this winter, but at least the flurry of activity for packing up will not have to compete with busy summer schedules.
While contemplating leaving here, I had a conversation with the land. I felt it told me it was okay to go, that it was time for a new caretaker and we would both be okay. At one point, another couple came by to see the house (this all happened before we even were able to put it on the market), and she asked if we sprayed for mosquitos. I said no (of course) and decided not to give her a lecture about the toxicity of pesticides, and bit my tongue when she said they sprayed their land….for the children. I ran to my quiet porch after they left and told the land that it needed to bring the right person here. I know I had to let go of a lot of things—it won’t be my home anymore—but it made me sick to my stomach to think of someone here who wasn’t into gardening and the wild nature of this place and would douse it in poison after all these years of us tending it naturally—a prime example being my battle with chicken mites for months rather than spraying something that might kill the frogs in our vernal pool down hill from the coop. Luckily, one of the new owners grew up in town, her family still lives here and, coincidentally, she was my son’s classmate. I feel at peace. You have to be a certain kind of person to want to live in the forest.