When Sean and I first moved to Northern New Hampshire and decided to call it home, we debated on where to establish our roots. We had moved to the rural, mountainous region attracted to the wild landscapes and the opportunity to explore a myriad of outdoor pursuits so looking for a cabin in the woods seemed ideal. But as a young couple with quite the active social life, we opted instead for a small historic New England home located on a residential street within walking distance to downtown. The cabin in the woods could be where we retired. For now, we needed a “Starter House”, some place to call home.

We’ve spent the past fourteen years creating garden spaces, building a new deck, painting and accessorizing the interior spaces, establishing an outdoor firepit and gathering area for friends and family, turning this old historic structure into our home. I’ve repainted the living room three times and our bedroom twice. We’ve celebrated birthdays, anniversaries, bbqs and full moons at this home. We fixed leaking pipes, replaced flooring, purchased a new furnace, and got a new roof for the barn.   We were homeowners and happy to have a place to live and love together.

Three years ago, in one of the darkest moments of our lives, Sean and I took a gnarly detour in our relationship and we appeared to be heading down two different paths. It shocked and stunned us both as we were best friends and never assumed we would ever be apart but life was unfolding in painfully unpredictable ways and we were left with a broken home. The walls once covered in wedding photos now stood bare with just an outline of where those memories once hung. Belongings were in boxes. The guest bedroom was my refuge. Sadness, broken hearts and broken dreams filled the spaces between the furniture and the crockpot.

It took time but with deep unconditional love, as is the love between my husband and I, we begun to find our way back to each other. Slowly the boxes were unpacked. New paint and color appeared on the walls. Our barn and storage rooms were purged as we released what no longer served us on our path of healing, finding a much deeper level of trust and love for each other.  Our favorite wedding picture hangs on the wall in our stairwell.  And this past year, we grew more food, and stored more food, then we ever had in the past. We took charge of water drainage issues in our front yard by imploring permaculture techniques. We spent more time by the firepit counting the stars and sharing our dreams for our future.

As we took time to reassess our needs, we realized that some day we would leave this home as we were meant to live out our “happily ever after” on a small permaculture homestead in the woods, the land for which we just purchased over the past few weeks. We will take our time moving, first establishing a getaway camp on the land while we pack and prepare for the move, and eventually, we will retire there. But the move will be bittersweet as this home has provided so much for us through the years. Shelter from the storms, a place to cook for family and friends, warmth on a cold night, food and beauty in the yard, a space to snuggle with my dogs and live in partnership and love with my husband. However, it also gives me great joy to know that this little house will serve another family, providing a place for them to establish their roots, to grow their relationships, to engage in the land, to call home. Today I am grateful to this little home for sharing its space with us through the years and for being here for us through all the celebrations, hardships, and transformations. Home Sweet Home, indeed.

(Picture: Our home after one of our most recent permaculture projects, converting lawn to gardens)

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