Lesson Learned, Moving On--Or Not?

| 11/4/2012 7:31:02 PM

Tags: gardening, small town life, lessons learned, Colleen Newquist,

A-photo-of-Colleen-Newquist It's been over a year since my last post—is that possible? Well, the calendar doesn't lie. And neither do I. Most of the time, anyway!  

This much is true: After a serious reality check on my ambitions to farm, I severely scaled back my dreams and decided to try growing a modest garden in our mostly wooded yard. We gardened quite a bit when we lived in our previous house. Mostly flowers and herbs, a few tomato plants, strawberries one year, lettuce another. I could do this.   

I acquired a tiller, identified a 12' X 24' patch that seemed to get the most sun, and got to work amending the soil, starting a compost heap, and planting what seemed most likely to succeed with just four hours of direct sunlight--peas, lettuce, arugula, greens, some herbs. The arugula did OK, and I ate the handful of fresh peas that grew right there in the garden. The lettuces never got beyond the baby leaf stage, and the spinach never showed at all. The rosemary, oregano, and thyme never got much bigger than the plants I put in the ground. The sage withered and died. The one bright spot, which indicates that I must indeed have one bright spot in the garden: the usually sun-loving basil inexplicably flourished, growing tall and bushy. Go figure.

All wasn't a total failure. I learned a few things along the way, including the fact I like cooking and eating fresh produce more than I like tending to it, especially in 100-degee heat, especially now that kneeling and squatting are a lot less comfortable than a decade ago. And that no amount of enthusiasm can make up for lack of sunlight. Lesson learned. Moving on--somewhat literally, this time!

Driving home from an anniversary getaway in Saugatuck, Michigan, we stopped in the tiny town of Three Oaks, Michigan for breakfast. We love Three Oaks. We'd been through a few times before and are smitten with the mix of small-town charm and culture worthy of a big city. We spotted an adorable cottage for sale, with a lush garden of grasses and flowers for a front yard and a metal glider on the front porch, and on a whim, made an offer. We closed a month later. We intend to rent it to vacationers in the summer. In the meantime, we're spending nearly every weekend there, painting and decorating, making new friends, and soaking up small-town life. 

Three Oaks Cottage 

colleen newquist
12/3/2012 7:38:01 PM

Hi Cindy! I knew you were somewhere along the lake. Would love to meet you in person sometime! I keep telling Hank they need to host an event that gets all the bloggers together. Wouldn't that be fun?

colleen newquist
12/3/2012 7:36:31 PM

Hi Dave, sorry to have been gone so long! As far as I know, Sunny Side Up is not available online through Capper's (although other magazine content is), but I have posted several essays on the facebook page for Stop and Smell the Butter, my journal of appreciative living, which is where the essays first appeared. You can find them here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150689036567486.423500.163628787485&type=3

nebraska dave
11/6/2012 11:08:14 PM

Colleen, How exciting your new purchase is. It's a great little cottage and is perfect for a vacation or weekend getaway. Yes, you have been gone too long. I was wondering what happened to you. It's good to have you back. Is there an on-line version of your illustrated essay, "Sunnyside Up", for Capper's? I have a subscription to GRIT but not Capper's. Have a great time fixing up your little cottage.

cindy murphy
11/5/2012 9:25:09 PM

Oh, my gosh, Colleen - we're practically neighbors! Or part-time neighbors. Or maybe most accurately, you drove by my town on your way home from Saugatuck - I'm in South Haven. The cottage is adorable! Welcome to Michigan.

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