Beginning

Here I am, pausing amidst a thicket in a flood plain said to belong to me. As of a couple days ago,  Jason and I hold the title.  Title! As if land can be typed up, copyrighted, sold on Amazon.   I certainly didn’t write it, nor do I possess it, not really.  It possesses me. 

30 acres! Well.  29 to be more precise, in said flood plain and in the higher wooded terrain across the lane. The dream is to turn it–or a part of it, the small human part of it–into a biodynamic farm and inclusive arts center where we can live with Felix and others.  I keep coming up with fancy names for the project, but when I talk about it, I just call it the Felix Farm. I take it Felix approves from the upward rising roars with which he greets my talk.

Anyway.  The grasses.  They were Felix-ish in that they would have dwarfed me if they stood at their full height, instead they bent and swayed, giving me the illusion of towering over them. Our dog Magic, however, was totally subsumed.  I only knew where he was from the swish and undulation of the stalks.  There were scads of tiny purple flowers arranged in pyramids, fuzzy, burrish dots of slate blue, white bells, seedy sour blackberries, poison ivy which I hope to have avoided, fuzzy bees, dragon flies, goldfinches. There was the weight of the muggy August air, the heady plant smells, the cacophonous buzzing, peeping and trilling of countless unseen creatures, and my phone, overheating in my pocket, cycling through ringtones for reasons unknown to me.  Perhaps it was trying to compete.

Magic drinking the pond


None of our kids have seen this place yet.  Jason and I bought it after having visited only once, each of us separately.  It was all rush, rush, an emergency response to a late June phone call from the head of Crotched Mountain School, where Felix has been living for almost seven years.  The added costs and loss of revenue due to COVID had decimated finances already on shaky ground.  The board of directors had unanimously voted to close on November 1, giving some 90 kids and the 350 adults dedicated to helping them four months to find new schools, new jobs, new habitats. In the midst of a pandemic.  In a country that spends far more money on juvenile detention centers than residential schools for kids with disabilities.  

My grief is more for the community than for us.  We are fortunate.  We have Jason’s job, which–because we don’t dare bring Felix back to Brooklyn– allows us to do things like purchase 29 acres in Dutchess County that come with a three bedroom house built in 1856, a barn calling out for goats, an ever rippling pond.  We have Felix magic, which has led us to dozens of marvelous people over the years, and it seems to be working now in the guise of Mark, a local contractor whose previously scheduled job just got delayed, allowing him to make our entryway and bathroom accessible to Felix’s wheelchair. With his assistance, we should be able to roll Felix into our new abode by November 1.

What comes next? Stories for sure. Masked people who will help us farm and carve out paths through the forest. Like everyone else, I’m looking forward to the day we’ll be able to take off these masks and show off our smiles again. By then, who knows, maybe the barn will be cleaned and the roof fixed, and we’ll have some baby goats. Maybe the beginnings of a wheelchair accessible orchard will have been planted. We will see. There’s lots to do!

Seven trunked pine in the forest out back.

21 thoughts on “Beginning”

  1. Awwww Eliza that’s beautiful! What a wonderful thing you’ve managed yet again! Congratulations. Much much love. Hope to come and visit you there one post covid day.XXXXX

  2. Lovely. Congratulations on moving a step closer to a beautiful dream and plans? I would love something like this for Harry. When you say others I wonder who you refer to. Are these others imaginary now? Yet to be identified.
    Best wishes
    Michele Muller

    1. Hi Michele! Once we get the place a little more accessible, you guys should come visit and we can see where that leads. Who knows? Maybe Harry and Felix can be roommates some day. At the very least, we can put our heads together and go swimming 🙂

  3. Holy Moly and Big Congratulations, Eliza & Jason!!! Wow!!!! Sounds awesome. I had to search where Duchess County was…remember that side of the river looking very appealing when I used to drive up to Woodstock to visit Scotty many years ago. Big hug, amazing and exciting! xoxo

  4. Holy shit ! Congrats! Lemons into lemonade. And that 29 acres u now OWN 😁❤️ = heaven on earth. BTW guess who lives in Dutchess County? Me!! (Don’t forget the T in DuTchess). We r neighbors again. Where r M and H going to school? When u come up for air pls pls be in touch xx 💋

  5. I opened up my email today and what wonderful news awaited! I read your book while living for a short while in Oklahoma! Residing in Georgia now this New England gal loves the South although would love someday to meet y’all! I can so relate to you with my Patrick, turning 13 next month! In a world of unknown and what ifs, it’s the enjoying each day and the world around you that makes life worthwhile! Keep up the good work y’all 🙂

    Sincerely,
    Margarita 🙂

    1. Hi Margarita!
      Thanks so much for reaching out & Happy Birthday to Patrick. Yes to all that and I hope to be able to meet you and Patrick someday!

  6. Eliza and family
    This is amazing news all around the turn of things in our world
    We would love to help and contribute when back from Israel in September. Best of luck and love
    Yaniv and family

  7. So moving, Eliza! Not happy that you had to go through a mad scramble because Felix’ school closed, or that other families did as well… but what a beautiful spot you’ve found, a wheelchair ramp in process, and baby goats who will certainly find their way into your barn and heart.

    P.s. you even inspire me to crank up my blog again; gone quiet for quite awhile.

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