Standing in the kitchen, chopping and sautéing my way toward dinner, I looked up and felt overwhelmed by the presence of trees all around me. Overhead, down the walls, underfoot. I’d stood in this very spot countless times performing the same familiar task, and while it was always a beautiful space to me, sometimes you forget. Why do we forget? But in this moment, be it the slant of fading light, the scent of woodsmoke, or the earth’s axis being just so, I stood breathless and felt small. At once, I knew everything and I knew nothing. I felt my own insignificance without being scared or disappointed. It was okay. To bring the forest inside like that, what a thing to do. I still miss that cabin made of logs.
This house is surrounded by sugarwoods and beautiful stonewalls. Actually, if you were a bird in flight over our “neighborhood” in late winter when the snow is gone but the leaves have yet to emerge, you’d notice hundreds of acres of old farmland, flanked in grid-like formation by centuries-old stonewalls, defining pastures that are now filled with hardwood. Aside from still retaining some pretty fertile soil, I’d say these stonewalls are about the best thing Connecticut has going for it. Because in a place where nature closes at sunset and clean waters are difficult to find, it is somehow a comfort to know that if our stonewalls were stretched out and linked together, they would circle the earth eight times... or so the story goes.
I’ll miss this stonewall when we’re gone, and I’ll miss the prime spot at the kitchen table that my father claimed for himself just as soon as the last nail was pounded and our sparse furnishings moved in. I was five years old. Every meal, for all those decades, he enjoyed with a front and center view of that stonewall. It mattered to him. It’s funny, when he comes to visit now, we always rearrange seating so that he may continue to enjoy his seat at the table. To be sure, this is not about fulfilling some patriarchal head-of-the-table ideal, it has always been about those stones. I totally get it. At first, it bothered my father that we shifted our seating for his pleasure, that it should feel like our home now, that he’d sit wherever. But really, the guy (with a friend) built the damn place, he can very well sit at the best seat in the house.