“Live free or die” greeted me from the license plates of cars I passed as the interstate gave way to windy rural highways, and contemporary suburbs faded away as repurposed mills rose up. Houses stretched farther and farther apart as thick green forest with just the first hints of autumn colors eagerly filled in the gaps.
It was hot out, and still humid, but with the windows rolled down and the radio up it felt wonderful to drive down an empty wooded road in the last days of a perfect summer.
I turned right, bumping through a pothole I’d noticed too late, and rolled up the gravel to the house I’d be living at for the next three weeks: my first host through Workaway rather than WWOOF. I took a breath, double-checked I’d unplugged everything in my car so I wouldn’t come back to another dead battery, and walked up to the front door.
Settling in to life at Mackintosh Homestead was easy. Alisha and Dave are warm and generous, and their energy for growth and transformation is evident in their home. Their work expectations were specific and fair – a welcome change after a few of my farms.
I spent my mornings pulling crabgrass from the orchard, drying and storing herbs, and working on the construction of a new chicken coop, usually tailed by Alisha’s and Dave’s dog Marley. In the afternoons I’d collect eggs, then drive into town to visit a cafe or bookstore, go for a run, or sit down with a glass of sweet tea to work on my writing.
As the day ended, I’d hang the chicken feed and fight through butting heads and tangled horns to give the goats their dinner. My own evening meals were usually enjoyed with Alisha and Dave, both of whom cooked incredible, largely homegrown meals.
Night often found me lounging on my bed with a book in my lap and the cat sprawled over my feet. I ended each day gratefully, proud of what I’d accomplished and looking forward to rising with the sun and beginning again.
The autumn equinox felt like a switch being flipped; after a week of sunshine and 80-degree days, we had to rush in the tomato harvest before the frost ruined it. I stopped making sweet tea, and instead sipped from a hot mug all day. Crush’s interior transformed into a whirlwind of clothing when I tore through it searching for warmer layers. And the maple and birch trees burst into color, littering the forest floor with puddles of red and gold.
With the shift in season came a change in myself. Being around inspiring people in a beautiful place and having time to reflect and grow gave me the clarity I’ve spent my journey looking for. The nagging restlessness and doubt have faded; I’m lighter yet stronger, more elastic yet equally sure of my needs, and I’ve finally found direction.
I was playing with Marley in the last summer rain when I realized where I’ll be living after I’ve finished this adventure. He was dashing around, springing up from the mud to nibble at my arm, and I laughed as I leaned my head back, enjoying the way the rain felt on my face, and suddenly it was obvious. I know where home is.