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Soldiering on today, I plan to continue my project—preparing a new home site for myself on a small parcel of land. It’s been scooped of trees and scrubby growth; a building has been installed; and a shed begs to be built. I imagine, as my red truck carries me down the highway, what I will accomplish when I arrive. Surely I’ll have time to drive a few screws into the new wood I bought last week for the shed, and attach some pieces to the upright posts. Maybe there’ll be time to dig two new holes for those ten-foot four-by-fours that lie in waiting on the ground. It’s a beautiful fall day, the sky silky blue, the air less laden with moisture than usual.

I arrive, backing my truck up to the building where I’ll eventually live. I swing open the door of my truck, put my feet on the ground, and am hit with a storm of exhaustion and fatigue. I slump into the lawn chair next to the building, pull the other one up for my feet, and drop my head. Disappointment and near-despair take a seat in my lap. I close my eyes, and, finally catch myself.

It is acceptance that is required, not fighting against the current pressures in my life.

After I time, I stand, begin to putter, and bow to this reality: I will not be moving mountains, or even a few ten-foot posts, today. So, I dip water from the five-gallon bucket I’ve brought, and pour it into the birdbath. This humble vessel serves the birds, thirsty wasps, and me—just by shimmering in the light. I take some steps back, survey the lines of bricks I’ve set in the ground, and find respite in this moment. Reflected in the shallow bowl of water are the sky, leaves, branches, and trunk of the young oak tree.

Some times, acceptance is all that’s required.


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You know how it is when you’re falling in love: every new thing you discover about your beloved is cause for excitement, a sigh, a swoon. The object of my most recent affections is a small patch of ground in the rural South. First it was the grand oak trees that attracted my attention. Then I faltered. Discovering more about this new love interest, I backed off. You’ve got issues, I said. I’m not sure I can make a commitment to you. Over time, however, the sloping grounds, the potential for all manner of beauty, lured me in. In March I paid for the property.

Love deepens as I meet members of the plant and animal kingdoms. Are the birds more beautiful here? More spectacular in their flight, their coloring? What about the red cockaded woodpecker that perched on that tree the other day? The way it turned its head side to side, alert to its surroundings, wasn’t that fascinating?

Falling in love is a little like being under the influence. Silly with sentimentality and superstitions, dopey and dreamy like a child just up from a nap.

Several weeks ago, I startled this lizard, which took refuge under a pile of brush I’d stacked. I’d never seen one like it before. Oh, my, and this too! Perhaps it’s something rare, a reptilian gem I’ve been given to adore. When I visit the land now to work on the home I’m renovating, I look for the scaly critter. Today, here it is. It sees me approach, moves up the tree and sits still for my camera. Not until I come home and see the results do I spy the patches and sprinkles of turquoise blue on its throat and belly. I sigh. I swoon. Ain’t love grand?

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Ellen Hamilton