The Essence of Beauty

Way back when we bought this property, it became painfully clear relatively quickly that we were in way over our heads. It was actually a matter of hours after moving in that the feeling of being overwhelmed took over and it is only now starting to lift -- slowly. I guess the main thing which has happened is just that we know now, and admit freely, what we could never say before - that our particular skill set was not the ideal one for the thicket overgrown, spider and beetle infested, decayed, ignored, defeated property which carried our name.

Our skill sets? Well, they were different from eachother. My husband's involved racking up huge amounts of frequent flyer miles -- the amount which leads the airline to hold the plane if you are stuck in a traffic jam.

That may be impressive, but it does not help when a snow storm has just knocked down over two dozen trees and you don't know how to use a chain saw.

My skill set did luckily include knowing how to wire a ceiling light but stopped short when, after regrouting 200 year old tiles, I woke up to find the new grout (representing a week of 13 hour days on my knees) cracked in a million places because the floor had shifted. That's what happens when tiles are laid in dirt instead of on a level cement floor. Little did I know.

It became way too easy to forget what kind of beauty we were surrounded by, since our focus became myopic -- to the point where looking up and around became an emotional impossibility at times.

One day in particular comes to mind. We were on our very steep hill, hacking away at 25 years of hibiscus overgrowth -- some of those thorn trees had stems four and five inches thick -- and they were wrapped into old out-of-control grape vines. We had to get these cut down before we could get rid of hundred of small trees which had grown in inconvenient places over the years and needed to be cleared.

On this particular day, I had gone through maybe four or five pairs of gloves. My hands were chopped up, my knees were sore because we were doing this on a hill with a 20 percent grade. At one point, in the late afternoon, I put down my clippers (by the way, Stihl titanium blade, gas powered turbo weed whackers are made for this kind of work -- NOT clippers from Walmart -- but we wouldn't find that out until much later) , put my head on my knees and proceeded to start weeping. The tears would not stop. We had worked for days and it did not even look any different than before we had started.

Micha came over to me, put his arm around me and said, honey take a look.

Look at why we are here.

It's this view that sustained me through the jungle of a learning curve which threatened to defeat me. It's the view we have from every front window of our house. It's this simple view -- of homes, of hills, of grapes, of mountains -- which feeds my soul and which I have now come to define as home.

Our acute challenges are few now, our limits more obvious to us, our abilities broader than in those first months and years. Which means that I can trade feeling exhausted for feeling calm, I can trade feeling scared for feeling safe, and I can trade feeling weak for feeling strong.

And I can enjoy our view, so much more.