Last weekend, Mark and I headed up to Binghamton for a family visit. Mark had concert tickets to see Ani DiFranco and Martin Sexton with his dad. I opted not to go to the concert, since I had seen both artists in the last year or so and thought Mark might enjoy the time with just his dad. I ended up the lucky one, however, because while they were at the concert, I got to go to a garden party!
Mark's Aunt Sarah and her husband Keefe live near the New York/Pennsylvania border and have a beautiful home and property there. Mark has told me they built the house themselves, after they were married on the land (which I think is a beautiful story-and talk about 'handmade something'!). The house itself is also beautiful and customized to their needs. The kitchen counter tops are 4" taller than standard to accommodate their tall height! I felt a little like a dwarf in the kitchen. But, the best part is their back patio. Raised high on stilts with stairs to the side, their patio allows them to look over an enormous back yard and eight (8!) gardens that Aunt Sarah has planted around the property. It was an incredible view!
Leslie, Ashlinn, Josh and I got to tour each one. The variety and beauty of all of her flowers is astounding. I've never seen such colors before! None of my photographs have been edited. I metered for light and snapped and what you see is a depiction of the what I saw with my eyes.
It's clear that these gardens are Aunt Sarah's peace. A literal piece of land and a tangible peace felt amidst them. The largest of the gardens is gated and has a grape arbor, too!
Sarah and Keefe have started a considerable garden. They've got 24 tomato plants growing in a raised bed and more strawberry plants than you can count! We got to sample the strawberries, mounded atop Keefe's homemade ice cream. That was a real treat! I'm so mad I didn't snap a picture... I was too busy eating.
Seeing so much growth was very encouraging for me to get out in my garden and do. It's been awhile since Mark and I did any weeding in our own veggie plot. I appreciate the lives Sarah and Keefe have carved for themselves, out in the country, away from the city. I feel that I could live that way. With internet everywhere these days, there's no need to feel remote or disconnected (although if you wanted that, you could have it in the country!). Since Indonesia, I feel like I've been on a quest to discover how things are done; how tortillas and tomato sauce are made instead of bought, how veggies and herbs are grown, how clothing and housewares are sewn. Indonesia would be an entirely different experience for me than it was six years ago.
The more I learn and experience a handmade life, the more I want to get away from the commercial life where handmade things are passed over in favor of those that are commercially produced. I much prefer Aunt Sarah's rambling flower garden than the strategically spaced pansies planted in the parking lots of office buildings. I'm trying to do a little of this where I am, right in the city. I guess this is the major appeal of urban homesteading. My garden will grow this summer, but it's got nothing on Aunt Sarah's garden!