Somewhere along the way of my 17 years with the National Park Service, I started nesting. Something in me became obsessed with having a place all my own, of setting down roots. I think it was while working at Cape Cod National Seashore.
Up until that time, I had led a vagabond lifestyle, moving place to place, never really setting down roots. Wanting to be portable, I didn’t really have too much in terms of material things. I wanted to make sure I could fit it in the back of my car and easily move on to the next place. When you work as a seasonal employee, never working more than six months in any place, it’s important to remain mobile.
While working at Sequoia National Park one summer, a couple asked me what I did in the winter.
“It must be great living in the park during summer, but what do you do in the winter?”
“I move up to Lake Tahoe, and work for a ski resort, teaching skiing.”
“Oh my gosh, what a life you have. I’m so jealous!”
But there was a pang of sadness. I didn’t really have a home. I had a storage unit where I swapped out my summer things for winter, trading a spartan cabin for a small bedroom in a stranger’s house.
But then I spent a year on Cape Cod living in a small drafty bungalow for a year. The winter brought snow and colder temperatures, which made me want to just snuggle into my down comforter and watch television. I discovered the joys of HGTV and TLC, and watched a lot of programs about fixing up houses. Suddenly I wanted that for myself.
Spurred to action, I bought two things — my first house plant, and my first power tool. I asked my landlady if she would be ok if I put up some shelves. Given the ok, I proudly used my new drill to install the shelves, stacking books and mementos on them. Then I used it to drill a hole in the ceiling, installing a hook to hang a wispy asparagus fern.
Though I ended up leaving Cape Cod after a year, the seed had been born. I longed to find my spot where I could put down roots and stay for a long time. Along the way, I tried out Philadelphia, western Maryland and western Colorado. But they all felt like a short stopping places, but not truly a place to call home.
We found our mountain home in Nederland unconventionally. A chance meeting with a couple led me to really consider their question.
“So what place makes your heart sing? What place do you feel most connected to?”
“Well, that’s easy, I’ve always loved being in the mountains.”
“Then you should find a way to live there.”
Such a simple concept. I set about looking at towns in the Colorado Rocky Mountains and happened upon Nederland. Instantly, I found the listing for our log home, and the moment, I walked in, it felt like home.
Ten years later, it still feels like home. My father-in-law marvels that I have no desire to move somewhere else. With my vagabond lifestyle, he thought I would surely be bored after 2-3 years. But each day, when I pull onto our dusty road and pull into our driveway, a sense of peace and serenity flows over me.
I’m planted for good now.