I feel at home when we arrive at Manderley. Armed with a rough description of where the land is, and our memories of our last visit, Gerry and I set out to see if we can find it again. We want some time to walk the land alone before we call the realtor.
The last time we were there the land was covered in snow and it was dead quiet. This time, the snow is all gone and we are delighted to find that there is a marsh behind the garden area.
The marsh and the trees nearby are alive with the sounds of birds, frogs, and ducks. The quiet of the winter is a distant memory but the sounds of nature equally feed a part of my soul that has been hungering for something more than city life.
The garden still bears subtle evidence of last year’s harvest. It waits -the promise of spring planting and a new bounty of produce ahead.
The weathered outbuildings still stand proud and speak of past generations; past years of toil on this land we are calling Manderley. There is history here; we look forward to meeting the older couple who have retired from farming this land and moved into town.
I look out across the prairie to the trees that mark the edge of the property and I am reminded once again of something Gerry had said. This is not property we are considering purchasing; this is land. And more, for us it is a lifestyle.
The night before, I underlined a passage in a book by Sharon Butala called The Perfection of the Morning. The book is a memoir of her own return to the Saskatchewan prairie. “What I could remember about that natural world from which our family had been separated by so little was a combination of smells, the feel of the air, a sense of the presence of Nature as a living entity all around me. All of that had been deeply imprinted in me, but more in the blood and bone and muscles – an instinctive memory – than a precise memory of events or people. I remembered it with my body, or maybe I remembered it with another sense for which we have no name but is no less real for that.” (highlight mine).
Having walked the property we return to our vehicle. I stand for a moment before climbing into the passenger seat and breathe deeply, feeding my soul.