Rod Dreher

Today marks nine years since Sharon Astyk and her family moved out to their farm. Mazel tov! Here are her deeply moving thoughts on the anniversary. Excerpt:

Both Eric and I, the children of divorce and mobile childhoods, have now lived on this piece of land longer than we have ever lived in any single place.
Every year we know it better. Every year we restore it a little more. We count more bird species, more wetland creatures every year. The families that came to see what we have done sat outside with us and we saw a pair of tree swallows, the first time that they have resided here – yesterday I found their nest, and that makes 10 different species of birds raising babies on our land, from the yellow warblers in the lilac bush and the barn swallows in the barn, to the cedar waxwings in the spruces and the Pheobes on the front porch.
Some days the call of my family is stronger and we talk about leaving. Some days we wonder how we possibly could. When we came here, we did not know what we were getting. We did not know what we were choosing. We had only improbable, ridiculous dreams, not concrete training, only energy and enthusiasm and passion, not knowledge or skill. The people we dreamed it with are gone, and live on in our memories, and new people have come into our lives. I have no idea what the future holds, for good or ill. I am not sure how well we have done at accomplishing all the things we have intended.
But through a combination of good fortune, the kindness of strangers who became friends, good luck, energy, hope, optimism, too many books, barter, trust, too many mistakes, sweat, stubbornness, curiosity, joy, anger, ambition, fear and delight, we have made it into something. It may not be for me to say what. I still shake in my boots every time I invite strangers to our place, tremble for fear that we will look too small, too disappointing, that our insufficiencies will overflow what we have accomplished. But I keep doing it because whever else it is, it is real, it is what we have done.
It changes every year – I showed people where the cistern will go, and the hoophouse, and more tree crops. I talked about the sheep that we hope will come soon, along with the ones we have shared for years, about how important sharing has been and we hope it will continue to be. I showed them where I hope the new dreams will grow. This one thing I know – nine years is just a beginning, and the new projects, the changes, the adaptations are just starting too. And most of all, from it wells up a stream of new stories that I tell here, and a stream of new friendships that flow out from it. And that alone would be enough.

Read the whole wonderful, inspiring thing.

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