Thursday, December 3, 2009

First Impressions of Chestnut Ridge Ranch

As we approached a small town called Philo we pulled over along the 128 because I had a feeling that the road we would have to take would be approaching soon. I must've seen it on Google maps months ago because we never received directions. I pulled out the wwoof book and the address said 7700 Peachland Road. So we drove along and a few miles up, there on the left was Peachland Road. It was paved for the first half a mile and then broke into dirt and gravel. This is a real road!

The road crawled up along the sides of hills and seemed to be kept in place by the roots of the trees growing horizontally outwards. Signs warning trespassers were nailed to trees and hugged by the bark that grew around them. Elwood chugged along in second gear, climbing, climbing climbing and then descending and climbing again. We stopped at the first dwelling we saw and asked a girl (who was probably a wwoofer herself) if it was Chestnut Ridge. She said no, so on we went. We followed the road for more winding miles until we reached three locked gates. On one hung a sign that read "Cats Ear, Emerald Earth, Chestnut Ridge Ranch". So Jay parked Elwood out of traffic and we continued on foot until we saw some buildings. A large, unfinished house, a number of sod roofed huts and a weird spherical structure. Jay hollered, "Hello?" and a woman came out of the sphere. After a short explanation she directed us to take the middle fork in a road still down the way.

We must've walked a mile or two more up the side of the mountain, passing houses and farms here and there. Finally we reached a large automated gate. Then we saw the chestnut trees and the oaks, then the rose bushes and the moon rising in a purple and pink sky over a big beautiful house we would later learn was originally meant to be a barn.

I was overwhelmed by the beauty of this place. Here we were on top of a mountain and everything around me so unfamiliar and near-exotic. Trees I don't recognize and a redness to the terrain. I had butterflies of excitement in my stomach.

We got up to the house and were greeted by the "fierce" barking of a Golden Retriever which quickly descended into sniffles and waggling, of course. Then came Julie, the current wwoofer, a sweet girl from Chicago and at the top of the stairs was Tom.

We had snuck up on them. He thought he had given us directions and the padlock combination for the gate. They were expecting the crunch of gravel under tires but we had come almost to the front door without being noticed. We were welcomed into the kitchen and given snacks and conversation. And such a beautiful kitchen, warm with a fire and full of functional knick-knackery.

So we're here. More updates soon on the work and everything else. So far we've just been pruning rose bushes, of which there are many. Tom's had to trip into town the last few days for deliveries and to take Julie to the Greyhound so we've been without guidance for the most part. With this lack of direction we have been fine. In this place it matters very little as time has slowed and there are books and fires and even a small bass pond from which Jay caught our lunch today. All is well with the world from our beautiful vantage point.

-Janet (& Jay)

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