Let’s take a walk to visit the property together. Imagine it’s springtime because we want to see the land at its splendor-best. Swirling, silky grass weaves around our ankles as we amble down the slope toward the trees. Meadowlarks are playing an avian version of leap frog — a grass-tickling, low soar and then a plunge into reeds, one after another. The field basks in Irish green. Now and then a bright dash of winged blue seems to materialize from the pure air, falling from the cloudless sky then reversing itself, alighting to a favorite oak branch. We bid welcome to Thoreau’s “bluebird carrying the sky on his back.” Looming dramatically over the lowlands are two of the poet Hawthorne’s “Grandest palaces of nature,” Mt Adams and Mt. Hood, both rising more than 11,000 feet toward the heavens provide spiritual protection and visual grandeur.
The refreshing wind is gentle but steady, feeling like morning water splashed on a sleepy face. Our bodies are in readiness, senses tunes and our heads, in sync, nod in appreciation. We could irreverently whisk through 20 acres in no time, even traveling by foot. Nature is often contemplated in Alaska-sized proportions and we can miss the miraculous seed tuft by our footprint. Instead, we explore slowly, examine closely. Five senses on an adventure. Exploration without a burdened plan of attaining a narrow goal always appeals to me. We hear the lilting sound of water dancing to lower and lower resting places.
Turning around the bend, we are pleased to view my “next door” neighbor Marc’s semi-underground home. Marc’s nature-compatible home was constructed by two hands and a single determination. An inspiriing story for the first-time builder and a sight to behold for the craftsman.
My relationship to the land changed and deepened with the addition of our friend’s home. The structure represents the hub, and re-entering the outdoors, one can take numerous spokes to the uncharted regions. Together, the two components comprise the wheel, and due to the structure’s remarkable semi-transparent design there is little barrier between the two worlds, and little barrier to my own evolving perception of land as home. Buying land together with friends has made us all feel like royalty. In Lyle, our 20 acres quickly became 40 with Marc and Brook’s addition, then 60 with other friends taking advantage of a good stewardship opportunity. This is not the start of the Lyle commune. Each family owns the respective title; house and all individual property is retained. There are no barriers though. No fences, “No Trespassing” or “Survivors Will Be Prosecuted” warnings. Call is a land community, loosely a land trust. Some “big ticket” items can be shared. The well, I’ve mentioned. road work, telephone and electric lines are logical places to break bread. These utilities often allow so many free feet of service, therefore to include your neighbors in the process will save lots of bucks. As important as money in the pocket is the smiling knowledge that your wildlife sanctuary and children’s sanctuary expands with your friends’ property adjoining yours. Finally, the comforting realization of living with your closest friends may become the most important reason for buying land with others. To know that you are surrounded by people whom you can always trust, neighbors you can count on in an emergency, to lend a hand, for babysitting (potentially an emergency) or for the neighborly cup of flour, brings a large dimension of satisfaction into a life which may have parents and grandparents situated a couple of thousands miles away.
Even though modern machinery has seemingly reduced the size of our planet, modern times have also spread us out as never before. We are left with seeing or phoning friends and relatives at holidays and birthdays, if that, and for the remainder of the year, expect to thrive on long distance relationships. The land is the magnet which pulls the tribe back together. ~