Saturday, February 12

Where the Green Grass Grows



I am not totally big on country music. Once and while there will be a song that I happen to hear somewhere that is of the country variety and it will get in my head, but not often. There is one song, however, that was the soundtrack running through my brain for two weeks of a warm spring about 8 years ago.

It was the spring of 2003 and Roy and I were living in our 'starter house'. It was a pretty little colonial built in the 1920's with original hardwood flooring, original gum-wood trim, and a huge bathroom with the, yes, original, small black and white marble tile. The area in which the house was located however had seen better times. It was located on a very busy road, which must have been a nice dirt path at one time but had been widened and paved so that our front yard was little more than a small grass barrier between the house and the racing traffic. We also had the 'entertainment' of having a bar right next door which was one of the most awful experiences I have ever had to live through. Constant fights, tires screeching at all hours, motorcycles, drunk people relieving themselves on our lawn. And don't even get me started on St. Patrick's Day. We could never go out for about 2 weeks around that holiday because we had to guard our property from drunk thieves and vandals.

But in spite of all this, it was a great house and we did have some yard space in the back. Very shady, but we managed to put in flower beds and a small, raised bed vegetable garden. We brought in fresh dirt for the vegetables because the home had belonged previously to someone who liked to work on cars in the yard. Oil contamination was not something I wanted in my food. I also wanted grass. There was a section of yard where they used to drive a lot, moving cars around. And it was packed down. Hard. No grass would grow there and I was determined to make a lawn out of that parking area.

In the spring of 2003, armed with a pick ax, shovel, rake and grass seed, I went to work. I was out there swinging the pick ax over my head and slamming it down, slowly breaking up the years and years of hard packed dirt, stone and whatever else might be down there. It took forever. And the whole time I was swinging and sweating and chopping, the same song was going through my head - the country song by Tim McGraw - "Where the Green Grass Grows." I don't know where I heard the song, maybe in a restaurant or on someones radio, but for some reason I couldn't help but sing it in my head the whole time I as hamming away at that mess.

Even back then, in 2003, when we were not even married 5 years, we both had full time jobs, and I had never even heard the term 'homesteading', I knew what I wanted. I just didn't know how to bundle it up into a goal. I wanted grass and flowers and vegetables. And I wanted peace and quiet. I know that I could not have the last two where we were, but I knew that if I worked hard enough, I could have the first three.

My first tomatoes were tiny. The corn didn't even grow. I had good luck with mums and iris and a few roses. I just think they were as stunted as I was in that location. There was an idea in my head the whole time, I just didn't know it was there.

Slowly, gradually, we became more aware and we were able to define what we wanted. We knew we wanted to move as soon as the budget allowed, which we knew would not be for a few more years. However, after spending three months laying on a hospital bed in my living room during the peak of a hot and humid summer in 2004, we both knew that we wanted out. We had been involved in a bad car accident that year and my back was broken. After surgeries and titanium rods and bolts holding me together, I was recovering in my non-air conditioned home, with the windows open, trying to catch a breeze. The county had also decided that they were going to widen the road, yet again, that summer and all I could hear and smell all day were construction trucks, idling engines, slamming and banging and commotion.

As soon as I was walking again, we decided enough was enough and we sold the house before we even had another place to live.

I did love that house - it was a beautiful house. It was just in a horrible location that we couldn't take anymore.

We searched for a place to buy during the window before our old home was closed and through some strange kind of luck, we found our current home. It had been on the market for 4 days when we bought it.

I now have 2 acres, a farm house, barns, and plenty of green grass. I never did get grass to grow on that space at the old property. No matter how hard I tried, it just wouldn't take. No matter how many times I swing that pick ax and insisted to myself, in my head, that I would indeed "live where the green grass grows", I never did at our first home.

And since moving here we have fully been able to realize our dream of modern homesteading. I had always wanted grass and flowers and vegetables, and that peace and quiet, and now we finally have it, for the most part. It is strange that we didn't even know what it was, the idea that grew in the back of our minds, until we were presented with the opportunity to make it happen. Then it just seemed so obvious, like it had been in the forefront of our minds all along.

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