Finally I reveal the lake! I've been taunting and teasing you for months, I know. I feel like my last few posts have been nothing but complaints, and I absolutely have nothing to complain about! Hello, struggling human here trying to be better, bigger (but not in a physical way, please), complete-er, grateful, accomplished, healthy, wellthy ... it IS a struggle, for me, anyway. However, this summer I've come to realize a few things.
(BTW this is a long post BUT there'll be lots of nice pictures. Get your cup of coffee, or wine, or both ...)
One is that I just totally needed a break. This past decade I have moved from Maine to NY, lived in an apartment, bought a house, moved again, started a garden from scratch, worked in a library, worked with my husband, quit working the library, quit working with my husband, joined in the start up of a co-op, worked in the co-op, quit the co-op, joined a community garden, left the community garden, made more of my own garden, traveled to Florida six times, bought a house in Florida, moved the contents of a parents' condo to the house in Florida, installed floors, ripped out carpet, painted walls, painted more walls, bought raw land property, built a tiny 12x12 "fort," built a 12x12 shed, bought a kayak, learned to kayak, sold a boat, said goodbye to two wonderful dogs, said goodbye to an uncle and my in-laws, painted over a 100 paintings large and small, entered approximately 15-20 art shows, joined a plein air painting group, created the NNY Art Trail, built five websites, started a blog, became a master gardener, stayed a master gardener, started a gardening business, worked as a gardener, joined a gallery, joined a gardening club, became president of the gardening club, left the gallery, started my own gallery left the gardening club, left the gardening job and found myself back in my own garden in my own backyard totally ... burned ... out.
I've been beating myself up for not putting any effort into the gallery this summer but really, I just needed a break. Forgiven. I have learned to breathe again these past few months!
When we first moved into this house, a decade ago, there wasn't much landscaping: a barberry bush, a dogwood shrub, a few hostas and other random perennials. I had just come from the woods of Maine and I craved nature. Secondly, I have come to realize I am so a nature girl. My garden here, the Violet Fern Garden, is my manifestation of the nature I craved and needed. It is not a mistake. It is not a too big garden for one person to manage in a reasonable amount of time. It is a manifestation of nature and it lives! There are birds, bees, beetles, weeds, spiders, snails, slugs, dragonflies, weeds, vegetables, frogs, crickets, mice, flowers, weeds, berries, trees, weeds, squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, raccoons, and recently a possum! It seems all the neighborhood cats come to hunt here, unfortunately, and a rant for another day. In my second blog post on October 9, 2009, I wrote this:
"Before moving here we lived in Maine where I left behind “a garden in the making” of three years and was just beginning to enjoy. We were blessed with lots of wildlife and scenic views. Oh, what I could have done with those two acres given more time! But, we made the choice to move to Northern NY to be closer to family and friends and a good choice it was. I now live in a village with a much smaller lot (as pictured in previous post) – oh, and a chain link fence – great, but consider it the best challenge – if I can create a garden here that attracts wildlife it will be quite an accomplishment!"
I can confidently say I have created a garden here that attracts wildlife. Mission accomplished. And so why the feeling of my loss of connection with my garden? I have come to realize that, too. The lake now feeds my craving for nature more fully than the Violet Fern Garden for it is nature — land, wild land where poison ivy and warblers and wild creatures roam. And although the Violet Fern Garden really is an incredible thing and still holds a prominent place in my heart, the lake has become my true love. My flame now burns there. The third thing I've come to realize is that the village is no place for a nature girl no matter how much work she puts into it. So let's get onto it and introduce the lake.
We (my husband and I), first started out just camping at the lake — yes, like in a tent. Then we built a platform 12x12 because that is the size limit before you need a permit to build, that would become our "permanent tent" or what we fondly refer to as the shack. (Oh, there's my dog Mojo now passed. It still hurts.)
We chose a relatively flat area to build the shack that happens to be in the middle of a Hemlock grove, a little ways away from the poured piers that came with the land and where we will eventually build a house with permits, of course. The plan is that the shack becomes our guest quarters once we have the house built. We are now trying to refer to our shack as our adult fort because, well, it's a little nicer than a shack.
The piers that will eventually hold up our modest but dream lake house. Perfectly set into the land for optimal solar power!
(Above) The beginning platform and frame work for the shack.
(Below) We just finished "siding" the shack, er, fort this summer. Next year we plan to screen in the little deck area.
Come on in. The inside is lavishly sided in white cedar. The floors are pine. I love the moth blanket I purchased from Society 6 — how I wish I could credit the artist, but no longer have my receipt. We are "testing" things with this small model. Solar will, hopefully, power a small refrigerator next year. Currently we have candles and led lights for lighting. We have a small on demand water heater for doing dishes and showering — both are located outside. The pump is run on battery. Propane is used for cooking and heating both the water and interior. We have a compost toilet from Nature's Head.
I was told by my master gardener instructor that a Hemlock with a trunk diameter of over 18 inches may be around 200 years old. I have yet to measure some of these Hemlocks but my guess is they are quite old. I plan to paint a large picture of these beauties, "My People."
Our fort sits atop a hill and overlooks what I call the "moss forest" and then the lake.
Last year we invested in having a dock built so it's easy to store and jump in our kayaks and go. When we first get to the lake we run down to the dock and put up our flag — let freedom ring.
And so this is to where my life is slowly transitioning. Here (below), is where I hope to have a small studio space — just up from the dock. We plan to side all our outbuildings just like our fort so there is some sense of cohesiveness. I envision holding artist retreats here someday, perhaps a workshop or two ...
Here is a peek at my new garden along our "driveway" complete with two ponds and vernal pools. I have been scattering seeds from the Violet Fern Garden: Rudbeckia Laciniata, Joe-Pye, Summer Nights Daisies, Purple Coneflower, Cup Plant. I have planted some starts of Lupine, Wild Bergamot and Milkweeds I grew from seed. I have transplanted Cranberry Viburnum and Trumpet Vine along the future paths from the house to the fort, from the fort to the dock. I hope to start Button Bush, Swamp Milkweeds, Cardinal Flowers along the shore. Add Dogwoods, Willows, Chokeberries, spring ephemerals, woodland plants. There is no edging, weeding, mulching here. I want it to very much remain wild and feed my nature crave. I want to very much let go of control.
I hope you have enjoyed this not-so-brief introduction. I now leave you with some views of the lake — enjoy!
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Author Kathy Sturr
In this blog I may write about the garden, flowers, plants, and the garden ... mostly the garden, but also new art and inspiration.