True To Nature

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There’s a thrill in touching an outside space. To wonder around to truly understand it. At different times of day, in different types of weather. To see how light adds elements and takes things away.

More than a month into the new year and we are nowhere near where we’d wanted to be with the renovation of the volière. We’re hoping to turn it into a tiny cottage for writers retreats and akin, but for now our dream is on hold. The aviary is not willing to submit to our plans: overall reconstruction chaos. This estate moves at its own pace and it seems that the château is not the only building here that has a fiery will of its own. Time to take a step back or even let go for a while.


And so, Thomas and I instinctively turn to what we do best together. We start something new, a straightforward passion project that excites us. One that is short-lived, manageable and fun. Not a priority by any means. Renovation candy.

Into the lower orchard we go. Even in the bleak of winter we don’t have to look hard to find beauty. We’re met by early hellebores and the old stone water wells. Inspired by what we’ve seen in Japan some years ago, we mark the two wells with wood and rope.  Beautiful simplicity and safer in the high grass of summer.

Next, we clear small trees and brush at the edge of the orchard to reveal two oak trees opposite each other. If we gently bend their new upper branches in spring, they will form an arch that leads to the secret garden of overgrown prune trees in the woods. At the back we leave dead trees untouched, damp skeletal barks covered with ivy and moss. In my imagination the walls of this temple entrance are lined with the most tactile green paper.

I move on to fantasize about sitting here in the late afternoon sun, daydreaming, sipping tea, reading a book. For this reason, Thomas spends an entire day making a bench from leftover materials. Drunk on our creative frenzy we put it in place in the falling darkness. Suddenly, there are owls calling and a gentle snow falls.

Everything has its proper time. This estate, our dreams and aspirations, Thomas and I as a couple, as individuals. True to his nature, Thomas starts dragging heavy stones around to stabilize the new bench, true to mine, I throw back my head to catch the snow in my mouth. And we are both laughing giggles, renovation troubles forgotten.

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