Hoar frost has etched the hibernating orchard and fields white. These days the winter sun rises low in the sky in the mornings, and by late afternoon disappears into Burgoyne Bay. My husband Robin and I, are new to this magical property and still finding our bearings. Still in awe. Our first five months were spent indoors, loving the farmhouse back to life. As the house has become more comfortable we have turned our thoughts to the land, the ten acre farm we call Alchemy Farm…a place of transformation.
Daily planning treks through the property have been spent watching and listening to the land, noting the movement of the sun, observing the places water springs forth. Evenings have been spent staying warm by the fire, dreaming possibilities to life: a poly tunnel greenhouse, a farm stand, and a small gallery gift shop. A tiny Air BnB eco sleeping cabin with a composting toilet and outdoor shower – so that we can share this special place, a working farm. A black and white kitten, Hunter, has joined our two dogs, Lucy and Scout. The bee hives are arriving in the spring. Other animals are being discussed, a mini donkey, goats, chickens, maybe a Jersey cow. An herb garden, more fruit trees, mulberries, blueberries, a market flower garden and organic skin care products made with ingredients from the farm. We are being transformed.
This morning I was sifting through a catalogue of flower seeds, choosing what to include in bouquets this summer at the farm stand. As I moved seed packets to my online cart I suddenly felt an overwhelming sense of intense gratitude fill my heart. I was finally beginning to walk my talk–and not just as an environmental artist.
Working as an environmental artist I created (and still create) gallery exhibitions in response to natural sites. With each new exhibition I had started to feel an increasing sense of unease. I was doing a lot of art-making and art-talking – talking about how we are interconnected with the Earth and Nature. Meanwhile I was living in North Vancouver, in a third story walk-up apartment, that didn’t even have an outside deck. I was feeling disconnected, on a daily basis. My soul responded immediately to Salt Spring Island when I first stepped onto her beautiful shores. Something deep within me understood that I was home. I didn’t hesitate. Within 24 hours I had given up my apartment, studio and teaching position in the city.
Six years later I’m placing seeds for market flowers into an online cart. My heart filled with peace and gratitude. Tears flowing as I realize that I am reconnecting to my thirteen-year-old-self. To a time when I belonged to the 4H Garden Club in Victoria. A time when I researched and concocted insect repellents for my garden and created my own special compost mixes. I can still remember the feeling of the earth warm, and inviting, under my hands as I planted my dahlia bulbs. Giant dahlias. Dahlias that won first and third prize ribbons at the PNE in Vancouver.
Always, the Earth, Nature has been my muse. What a long journey it has been to reach myself again.