Picture a long drive, just two tire tracks wending through a verdant woodland, curving out of sight. It’s barely noticeable at first, yet when you see it, you are compelled to turn off the road and follow the track. Is there a sight more enticing in the world?
You stop for a moment after you turn off the road. The woods are quiet, except for birdsong and the buzzing of insects. You follow the tracks as they curve around and up slightly, coming to a glade of lush green grass. The tracks continue on, curving around a corner hillock, and you come upon the home. It rests at the crest of the rolling hill, looking as if it sprouted and grew there, like it’s been there forever, like it belongs. The house is tucked in and protected, yet at the same time open and airy, surrounded by pastures and garden. It is obviously well kept, and well loved, and exudes charm and welcome. A refuge and a place to slow down for a while, sip a little tea, and to breathe.
You stop the car and do just that, with a deep breath of the scented air that your brain only registers as “green.” The quiet is overwhelming. The dogs come out to greet you. Large and intimidating, they trot up to the car, looking in the window at you. The third one runs off into the woods barking. A goat comes over to the fence to look at you. Then another. You can see a cow lying in the shade of a tree in the pasture, chewing her cud and flicking her ears occasionally. A chicken is dustbathing in a pile of dirt–molehill?–off to the side of the fence, and several more are pecking and scratching in the field beyond her.
You’ve talked to the dogs through your open window and they seem friendly enough. As you get out of the car, stiff from driving, and stretch, they sniff your shoes and clothes, and one pushes past you to sniff the car’s interior.
The gravel path from the driveway to the house is bordered by flowers and herbs in profusion and leads you past the large garden area, enclosed by a low picket fence. One corner of the garden is occupied by several humming beehives, the smell of honey wafting on the breeze as the bees zoom in and out. You continue to the house. It is brown, with weathered siding and a shake roof. It’s obviously seen a few seasons, and exudes a sturdy strength. There are three steps to the front porch, which has a low table with several low, cushioned chairs around it, and a pudgy brown tabby occupying one of them, looking at you sleepily. A pitcher of tea is on the table, with round lemon slices floating on top, and two ice-filled glasses await, a sprig of fresh mint in each.
The open front door is brightly painted, matching the window sashes. There are many windows, most of them are open, each with gauzy lace curtains blowing gently in the breeze. The front door is held open by a cast iron doorstop of the old fable of the Breman Town Musicians: a donkey, ridden by a dog, ridden by a cat, ridden by a rooster.
A smell wafts out of the house: buttery shortbread and lavender, and something else you can’t quite place. Apples? The dogs have escorted you to the porch, one leading the way and heading inside, the other sprawling in the doorway with a sigh, belly flat on the cool slate entry floor. You drop your bag by the front door and sink into one of the porch chairs, letting out the breath you didn’t realize you were holding. You are home.