No man is an island,
entire of itself . . .
John Donne (1572 -1631)
When we had horses at home, I never minded the hours spent mucking stalls, cleaning tack, or polishing riding boots. In fact, we used to joke that my daughters had the shiniest boots on the dressage show circuit.
Yesterday, I was tasked with scrubbing century old moss from stone cut from the old mill foundation. The stones will be used to face the hearth and fireplace in our new home. I was alone for hours behind the garage - above the rushing creek - on my hands and knees - just the stones, a wire brush and I. Lost in my thoughts, I enjoyed the alone time.
Through it all, Rick had a business to run, making several trips back and forth to California via Pittsburgh. From our little cottage on Mill Creek, we endeavored to plant business roots in our new community, holding strategy meetings on our summer porch.
In May, we welcomed a new member to our little farm family. Trooper, our little red lab puppy, now more closely resembles Clifford, the Big Red Dog. After three summers of TLC, my flower garden was a sight to behold, and my carefully researched feeding station managed to attract a wide variety of butterflies and songbirds. My little vegetable garden produced its first cucumbers in late June, zucchini in August, and tomatoes in abundance.
Our happiest days, were those spent with our children and grandchildren. They came, and we went - to country fairs and tractor shows - to the diary hut for homemade ice cream. We watched them splash and play in the cool water of Mill Creek by day, and roast marshmallows around the bonfire by starlight. What a pleasure it's been watching them grow to enjoy the magic of this place.
There was sadness too in this summer - loss and frustration - the sort that one either survives, or doesn't. I survived.
At one point yesterday, as I crouched over the foundation stones, focused, busily scraping away the layers of lichen and moss, the mason appeared before me, dripping in sweat and covered in stone dust. He admonished me saying that if I scrubbed too hard, I'd alter the very character of the stone that I admired so much.
Sometimes its alright to be content with yourself, blissfully ignorant of the world around you, and sometimes its okay to retreat and grieve. But there always comes a time, when one must stand up, step back, and look at the bigger picture to gain perspective. Sometimes we need others to remind us to do so, and the wisdom to listen to them.
The construction on our house, is coming to a long anticipated end, and our busy summer is drawing to a close. In a matter of weeks, autumn will die away into winter, and with the inevitable snowfall, there will be long periods of quiet and solitude here. I'll enjoy the alone time. But I have faith that winter will give way to spring, and spring into summer, and with it, the hustle and bustle, the laughter, and children . . .
No man is an island entire of itself;
every man is a piece of the continent,
a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less,
as well as if a promontory were,
as well as a manor of thy friends or of thine own were;
any man's death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
it tolls for thee.