I find the cadences and images of William Butler Yeats’ poem, “The Lake of Isle of Innisfree,” comforting, and often as I turn up the gravel driveway that leads to my old farmhouse, I hear his words: “I shall arise and go now, and go to Innisfree.” In the poem, he describes the peacefulness of a rural retreat–“the bee-loud glade”–where he lives alone. And, while our farm sits on the edge of a bustling town and road, we can wander to vine covered bowers around the old ceramic silo where the nature has managed to dominate man and his racket.
This is my place, where I seemingly was meant to be, and for all its challenges–frustrating Internet, old wiring and plumbing, and lots of upkeep–it is home. We live in rhythm with the seasons: spring brings the usual succession of flowers from daffodils to irises to the summer perennials. Hummingbirds arrive, and after a brief absence for nesting, they will be back in full force, often downing a quart of food a day, zooming from feeder to feeder, perching briefly and sipping deeply, chasing others as they defend their territory. Eventually, as summer progresses, they do settle down and will share feeders with 3 or 4 perching together.
The gardens have settled in to this place as well. After 8 years of cultivation, I have established perennial beds that include lots of flowering, bee and hummingbird friendly plants that bloom from now til first frost and sometimes even a bit afterwards. I’ll do some planting this year, but it is mostly maintenance: lots and lots of weeding. But it is work that gets me out of the house and away from the laptop and even a few minutes can make a difference and sooth my soul. Every school should have such a place for kids and adults where they can dig in the dirt and make things grow.
I have added a new element this year: I am experimenting with a kitchen scraps garden. I planted potato eyes, onion and garlic sprouts and one celery end for which I held out no hope. Lo and behold, when I returned from my trip, it had put forth some leaves! This is easy and essentially free.