The first time I went to look at the land was before I purchased it. It was a cold fall day, and was pissing rain. Not to be dissuaded, I went through the brush and found that about half way in there was a wall of thicket, of what the locals call prickly pear. The great barrier of it went on as far as I could see to the left and right of me; I wanted to get through to see what was on the other side. Tenaciously, I pulled my coat sleeves over my hands, and began to push my way in through the canes and their sharp little thorns.
They tied themselves to me, through my clothes and into my skin. I was the soft side of velcro and still I pushed my way though. What was about 200 foot wide band of the stuff felt more like a mile. My cousin Ernie says that this Great Wall has been there forever, that he would hunt rabbits there as a kid, and with great success. Truthfully, there are still grouse, partridge and rabbits by the plenty in these thickets; since then, I have cleared a small path through, so that I can walk back to the ridge without the pain of being caught in bramble.
When I finally arrived to the other side, I was thrilled that I persevered. It was just as I thought. The woods opened up and I found it just the way I expected to. The back 7 acres is all Carolinian forest, hardwood trees as high as the ridge itself. It opens up and is as beautiful as can be back there.
I can’t help but reflect on that adventure and how it strangely mirrors life. It is not just in nature that you have to push through a lot of difficulty, sometimes getting poked by the ugliness of life until you bleed. The fact is that a lot of life is similar to being caught in a giant rose bush, you just have to escape it to get to the great stuff. Generally, I think that those who go through the biggest prickly patches, are very often the people who have the most to offer; they are the hardest workers the ones who know how to live.
I bought the land, and then not long after I built Tiny House Ontario. I located it right before the thicket at the place where I stood wondering if I could get through a few months before. I did this not just because I want to preserve the sanctity of that wonderful deep woods, but because I wanted to face the obstacle in that land. There are great rewards in this location, mostly the constant movement of animals around me, who I hear much more often than I see. I am surrounded by life, by those who are amazingly well sustained by the difficult landscape.
On my most recent winter visit, I was out walking with Liisa. We were nearly at Tiny House Ontario, perhaps 50 feet away. She noticed this, not me and stopped to take this image. It captures the density of the prickly pear. You know, when the leaves come in and you stand right here in my little woman made clearing, you cannot see the Tiny House at all.
Mostly though, I chose this spot, because all year around the prickly pear stands, and reminds me that I can get through the rough patches. I know that I can survive even the deepest injury and I can live with the scars too. Survival is often tough but the great openings at the end of the rough patches, make the trip worth while.