The Dream--Journal Entry from the Summer of 2008
For years I have dreamed of buying “a place.” A cottage. A farmhouse in the South of France. A casa in Northern Italy. I have read all those books—“A Year in Provence,” “Under the Tuscan Sun,” and “A House in Normandy.” I grew up with notions of a cottage, and have been secretly envious of those families who had been able to enjoy this kind of summer leisure. I had long dreamed of finding a way to enjoy it myself.
I write these words as I sit in an Adirondack char, in a white cotton nightdress, on a half finished deck, watching my husband (very happily) reconstruct our small barn.
Yes, I finally did it.
I talked my husband into buying “Evergreen.” An almost splendid 9 acre potato farm, with a soon to be charming two-storey farmhouse on the Baltic Inlet, near Malpeque, PEI. It really does have potential, if enough man-hours are poured into it. How did this journey begin?
Well, for years, I have poured over MLS listings in Europe and Canada. I have even glanced at Costa Rico and the South Sea, looking for “The Place.” The challenge has been the price, the logistics, the will and the courage to actually do it. This year, these elements came together.
The biggest challenge by far has been wrapping our mind around actually doing it. Making the commitment as a family to live in this way, making this a priority we invest our time and money in. The nudge to actually do it came this year. Long hours at work, little family time, and the death of my father crashed together and at the climax of this cacophony I realized that I needed something. Something to shake us up and off the treadmill, and to redirect the trajectory of our lives.
I was reviewing MLS listings—once again—and noticed the listing in PEI. The realtor, Ricky Desrochers described the place as “Piece of Mind.”
The truth is, the farmhouse was left unoccupied for nearly 6 years while the American owner, Myrtle, suffered ill health.
The property included a two-storey old farmhouse, on a crumbling foundation. A tiny barn and 9 acres of forest, meadow, fields, and river frontage complete the property. The fields had been mysteriously farmed by some local farmer who never paid old Myrna any rent. The river frontage had no access, having been overgrown by bush and brambles. The forest was think and dense, with no way to wander through it.
But, the house came furnished. Including a library with cookbooks, old china, crystal and linens (even old patchwork quilts). The barn had really neat stuff in it—a barbecue, a bike, tools, Adirondack chairs and lobster traps!
The tree lined drive up to the house was breathtaking—truly—with purple lupines and other wild flowers guiding the way to Evergreen. Rolling fields surrounds the property. The sun sets over these fields and turns the sky intense shades of orange and pink. Trees spot the property and give home to all sorts of rare birds that sing as I write these words. I savour the sight of herons, piping plover and cormorants flying overhead. My reluctant husband even said, “This place has potential.”
Evergreen sits 5 miles from Cabot Provincial Park, which hosts one of the most beautiful red sand beaches on PEI. To get to Cabot Beach, you must drive through Malpeque, where famous oysters, lobsters, and mussels can be bought incredibly cheaply from local fishermen who spent the morning in their boats. They always add in a few extra and unexpected seafood treats into the bag, and they tell you the best way to cook it all up.
The surrounding area is beyond charming. It feels like the 1950s. People are friendly and a sense of community is alive. Last night, we stopped in at the local church for their annual “Ice cream and Strawberry Social.” We ate heaping bowls of fresh field strawberries and vanilla ice cream on the lawn of the church. The local church ladies sold home made biscuits and strawberry jam, and we bought some for this morning’s breakfast. We learned of this strawberry social by reading handmade signs that line the roads. The same roads where little “on your honour” stands let you buy firewood, jam, and bags of potatoes. Other signs can be seen too, for concerts at St. Mary’s Church on Friday nights, and Ceilidh’s at the community centre on Wednesday nights, and town picnics on the grounds of the local parks.
The pace is slow and life seems real. I love it.