We arrived in early August, on a blustery ferry from the mainland.
We drove down the island highway to the sunny rural village where we’d be staying for the first few months. Pulling up at the rental house half an hour earlier than predicted, we ran right into the owner. He was trimming the bushes and mowing the lawn and such before we arrived. Bless him.
We’d rented the house sight-unseen from the internet; it was the only one we could find that was the right size, looked nice and was available short-term during these late summer months when the island still pulsed with tourists. Stepping into it, the house felt immediately welcoming and comfortable – with a faint scent of sea….the kind that gets trapped in the floorboards after decades of children bringing it back on sandy feet and wet towels after an afternoon of beach romping. It had original wood cupboards and floors in the kitchen, along with a plastic wrap around bench and Formica table – reminiscent of a 50’s diner. There were wood-paneled walls and a vinyl-side wet bar in the basement rec room. The white leather couches in the main-level living room looked comfortable and well-kept.
While it was uncluttered, there were signs of life. Coffee tables and various room corners displayed wooden African-looking artifacts. There was a grandchild’s toy box and a shelf of board games. A framed picture above the kitchen sink read “So This Isn’t Home Sweet Home. Adjust”. Signs of whole, deep life. Plus the house had its own fully equipped home gym, with a treadmill, bike and free weights, benches…like no 1970s rental house ever has. Perfect for me, knowing I’ll be on my own with the girls at times, and sneaking out of the house for early morning runs won’t be an option.
While nothing about living here would be ours, I knew immediately this house was where we’re supposed to be. This is where we start our transition and dip our toes into the adventure ahead.
We trundled around that day. We unpacked the few boxes of essentials we’d kept out of storage and crammed into the van. We claimed our bedrooms and flopped on beds. We turned on faucets and poked around in cupboards and drawers. We had lunch at a local diner. I stocked up at the village grocery store. After dinner, we took a walk around residential streets and the farmer’s fields intertwined with them, noticing types of trees we’d never seen before and wild blackberry bushes.
And in the back yard, we picked up and examined apples. Like real, live, edible apples. All these years living in a more northern, hostile climate, I’d forgotten to remember that apples grow on trees. And that an apple tree can exist in my back yard. I remember one of our houses as a child when we lived in England having “27 apple trees”. So my blueprint remembers the feeling of knowing that apples grow on trees in people’s gardens. But my brain had filed that away in the archives, like a set of back taxes. But one bite from one apple in the new yard brought back to life my knowing that food grows from the ground. That it doesn’t emerge, as if by magic, in 3-pound bagged bundles in the produce aisle in Safeway.
I made room for that sense of knowing and let it settle in.