Thursday, April 30, 2009

Out in the Sticks

I got to do something really fun the other day. I got to spend a couple of hours with two people who have created the life they want.

I had to drive way out there, miles from anywhere, to get to them, but the drive was worth it. After winding around on a farm road forever, I turned onto this dirt road that could not have possibly been wide enough for two cars. Fortunately, I didn't meet any on-coming traffic.

These people, Lee and Joy, bought all this land out here more than 20 years ago and decided to build a winery on it. It was full of crap, with overgrown briars and rusty old plows, and Joy said "a dog wouldn't have it." But they cleaned it up, planted a vineyard and built a winery. It's got an apartment in it, so they lived there for a while.

There was an abandoned farm house on the property originally built in 1831, the kind that started out as a small house but had room after room added on in a sort of haphazard way. Lee and Joy gutted the thing but saved the walls, and they added around it in a carefully planned way. So, now they have a four-guest-room B&B plus a larger apartment for themselves. Joy's grandfather's bed is in one of the guest rooms, and Lee's grandmother's quilt from 1882 hangs on the wall—it's "signed and dated" with embroidery thread.

Near the old house is a little stream that trickles down something like a waterfall that's not more than a one-foot drop, just enough to sound like a fountain. The couple have set up two chairs out there by the falls, and when all the guests have gone home, they sit out there with the crickets and the chirping frogs, and they drink their wine, and they shed the day. When visitors come for tasting or for dinner, they can't see those chairs. All they see is all the work Lee and Joy do to make them feel welcomed, to make sure they enjoy their meal and to see they can have the sort of wine they prefer.

But those chairs are just around the corner, and when they let me see them, I felt like I got to know them a little better. It's like when someone let's you see not just their tidy living room just inside the front door but their lived-in family room at the back of the house, too.

I also got to see the room where the wine ages, and the bottling room and the private room where Joy goes to hide out and to make stained glass windows. And I got to have some sassafras wine they make from sassafras leaves they pick out in the woods. I don't know how you make wine from leaves, but they have figured it out. Lee said you can make wine from anything, even manure if you'd like, but he said not to include that last bit in the article I was writing about them.

I left after my two-hour visit only because I had to, only because I knew they had work to do and they kind of needed me to get out of the way. Otherwise I would have spent the day exploring all the little treasures that are hidden on the property that represent years and years of amazing living these two people have had. I am always impressed and inspired by people who create their own opportunities and figure out how to carve out life the way they want it.


Kyle @ Sift said...

I alwyas liked the idiom, out in the sticks.
What a great life they must have. I imagine it requires a lot of hard work.

PF said...

I love this place...but I've never seen it in the daylight!! I bet it's awesome to see, along with the dinner and the wine...ahhhhhh! Lee & Joy are wonderful hosts :)

lynn said...

Me too. They sound so interesting and content. Great story Robyn.

Shazza said...

I would gladly have that kind of life than work in an office all day!

Thanks Robyn - it's nice to know someone made their dreams come true!

MmeBenaut said...

Sounds like the perfect place to revisit, for a weekend with your husband. Ah, some spiced, mulled wine might be nice. I quite like ginger wine myself but it is more like a liqueur.

Anonymous said...

Sounds perfect. I know some people like that. It's a great life for them, but I don't think I could do it. Still, sometimes I'm jealous.

lynn said...

Mulled wine, Mme. Mmmm.

Rich said...

what a great story