The Embers and the Stars by Erazim Kohák is one of my all time favourite books. It is not light reading. It is dense and hard to get through, but beautiful, lyrical, life changing, and worth all the effort. This book certainly impacted me in ways that I never once expected.*
With this book in mind as it always is, in the morning, I woke up thinking about forest. Specifically about the hickory trees that I hope to keep safe on my land, then I thought about big Bonny tree, the giant oak that my grandmother would have walked under on her way to school.
My thoughts then brought me way back to the Irish family who first settled here pushing out my native ancestors and their long history by shaming it away and marrying in. It was not so much the natives that I was thinking about. Sadly and honestly, because I know little about the natives, the history for them is vague and sporadic like a dream of better and harder days. It is the settlers who I know, and understand.
I thought about my original Dixon (also spelled Dickson) family, because it was the settlers who brought land ownership with them. Specifically I thought back 162 years to the time when Robert Dixon, took up a land patent for this land in 1850*. I also thought about his descendants, too my ancestors, who walked this land working it and planning for it, just as I work and plan today.
A funny thing is that work is easy and planning is not at all. Planning is complicated. You see, I suspect that Robert Dixon had great plans in mind, when he divided his land at his death. It was left to his boys; girls out of the equation, including his wife Alice (who was inherited, like a cow to be managed by her sons). Great, great, great Grandpa Dixon would not have imagined that it would be a sixth generation granddaughter (GGG granddaughter) who would be the keeper of it. I don’t believe that he could have fathomed that my G uncle Lewellyn (G grandma Caroline’s brother) would lose his 50 acre share in 1943 because of a $2500 loan he took and could not pay during great depression. Old GGG Grandpa Dixon, could not have imagined that the wonderful neighbours, the Miller family would buy that land and continue calling it “The Dixon Farm” even to today. He could not possibly have known, when he set his plans, that the Miller descendant would be thrilled to see it in the “Dixon” hands once more. More over, I expect that the biggest thing that he could never have imagined is that a woman would be the one who is interested in planning for it now.
So what about my plans? I have one biological son James, as well as a son Conrad and daughter Kasha who are mine too, emotionally. Will any of them have interest in Tiny House Ontario and her beautiful forest home? I don’t see any signs of this. Will it be another long lost descendent of the Dixon line who will want her? This is not apparent to me either. Will it be in the hands of family? Who knows? I believe that I cannot know what is in store for these acres.
The only thing that I know for sure is if little chunk of land is protected from greed, it will outlast me. Perhaps another 162 years from now someone walking it will find the extra chain saw blade I lost out there, and wonder about the person who was connected to it. Time will tell. Time always gives us some version of the truth.
*I plan to read The Embers and the Stars again this summer at Tiny House Ontario. If any of my friends or locals wants to join me in this, I would love to do a Tiny House book club weekly meeting to discuss the chapters. Wednesdays at 6:30 pm?
*First a full 100 acres then the rest of the lot and concession of 100 acres was purchased from John Ilan (also spelled Island) in 1857 for ₤225.