Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

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©Katherine Dunn.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A place in The Wood for us outsiders

Boone and I come out of The Wood surprising the donkeys
Boone and I have been out in the woods a couple times. Nobody ever walked the property line with us and all we have are overviews of the lots, which are helpful, and the stone walls that most properties have as defining lines. But it gets tricky when the land is mostly forests on the adjoining properties. I was told there were paths in the woods and am discovering them. Some are not on our land and I was told one property allows us to be on them, but I will venture to the town clerk to get names of owners to introduce myself to make sure. Using someone's land, even for a walk, or a ride, is a gift-it is not a permanent right. There seem to be some people that think they are allowed to do whatever they want in someone's forest because that is how it was done by their dads and their dads and so on. We ran into this in Yamhill. It is gentle dance, one I am not always very good at, to discuss such things with property neighbors and long standing locals when you, meaning me, are the 'outsider'.

In the meantime, I am focusing on the south side of our property because it is not as marshy and has more potential I think for trails for me and Boone. The marshy area is a fact, and it sort of makes a curved loop in the middle of the land so is unusable about 6 months of the year. But, I am making lemons out of lemonade, because Boone hates squishy terrain and it is good practice for him. He has some small streams to cross too and we are doing fine. He loves the trail rides, it is so obvious in his demeanor and I do too. Arena riding gets boring for me, unless you have goals of a show.

There is a small section of The Wood over by the current edge of the far pasture that I like. It is where I've been entering with Boone. Yesterday instead of a ride I went there and spent time clearing dead wood and just getting to know the place. There are adjoining properties on the way upper portion of our land that I am not really too comfortable with right now. As Neil Young wrote,

"When Edith and Earl
Renamed the Double E
They nearly made history
The neighbors rose up
And some of them were mad as hell
'cause it used to be the Double L

Change comes slow in the country
When you're new
There's a lot of distrust
Years pass by uneventful,
And memories turn to dust"

So yesterday as I worked on the forest, I spoke to it. I explained my intentions. I hope to leave our forest in better condition than when I arrived. Not that the former owners did anything wrong, they were good stewards and let their children learn and play in Nature, it is evident in so many ways. There is a difference in considering yourself a landowner versus a land steward. We won't be allowing hunting here either, which has some feathers ruffled. I have nothing against hunting or hunters, much of my family hunts. I just don't want  it here for safety. If we had 100 acres, that would be one thing, but we don't. My call. Another reason I'm sticking to certain parts of the forest, for now. I have an idea for this part of the wood I'm working on, making it a little sanctuary of healing for guests, making wood huts out of branches. I went to a place like that in Wisconsin years ago, that started as the project of mentally challenged boy, and continued every summer as he aged. My friend took me there, you had to know how to find it. She kept saying she was taking me some place really special, and when we arrived after walking some distance through the woods, I was just so touched.

I want that for my woods. A place for beings to feel touched and safe.