We were so excited when the MV Times asked us to keep them updated on our journey. Walker and I decided we both would take turns writing for the column. I went first and started writing about my thoughts as we sunk into our first real week on the road living full time in the art wagon. It was really hard.. as I hadn't written down coherent thoughts since college. My grammar and spelling have always been awful. When I finally created a piece I somewhat liked I gave it to Walker to edit down as I had surpassed the column limit! It was hard to chop away at points and concepts I was meaning to share, but then I remembered I have this amazing thing called a website with a journal page!
So heres the short and sweet version. Thank you MV Times!!
Now heres the uncut juiced up version.
Oh.. and a song to add some atmosphere that I listened to while writing this.
Islanders Danielle Mulcahy and Walker Roman, the artist duo hit the road at the beginning of October armed with a renovated fifth wheel trailer, all of their possessions and art making materials. The goal is to make art, sell art at different venues and pop ups, educate about art making, and of course live more simply, responsibly and in the present.
I looked back towards our trailer behind our tightly packed pick up truck. I kept thinking we forgot something, or everything. So much had been working up to this moment. The crazy idea, buying a truck and , a trailer and now finally pulling our mobile art studio and house onto a ferry. Going through a mental list containing all of my most valued possessions, I realized that they were all there in tow behind us. Our big, barn red adventure wagon. Our first home.
With no towing experience between the two of us, I was frantically checking all mirrors as we pulled off the boat. Walker was cool and collected, even while driving over the Bourne bridge. The plan was to drive inland to my dad's house in Rutland Mass where we could get ready for the next month of craft shows in New Hampshire following the leaf peeping season. When I say get ready I mean practice backing up, as neither of us had ever done that successfully yet. Another interesting issue that arose was we weren’t completely prepared as our solar panels had yet to be hooked up properly to our battery, which also meant the vent fan for our composting toilet was also out. Also we hadn’t time to clean our water tanks before leaving, so no running water.
After a sleepless night we woke up early to practice backing up. My dad watched on from the window as Walker pulled back and forth over the lawn just missing the small saplings in the yard. The trailer seemed to have a mind of its own as it cranked the opposite way of where he intended, like a crazy puppy on a leash. Slowly the big 26ft long pup was trained and Walker seemed to be getting the hang of it. He looked at me sweating and exhausted. “Let me try.” I said. I felt a little more confident after observing him. He gave me some advice about watching the mirrors and turning the truck opposite of what you think. Once hitting reverse, the trailer went right back into bad puppy mode as it swung around to say hi on my passenger side window. I pulled forward and started very slow. The best advice we have gotten so far about driving with a big trailer is never do anything in a rush. Instead of looking at the mirrors when I knew there was no baby trees to hit, I watched the back of the truck. It was like two arms pushing a wheel burrow if that makes any sense. All of a sudden, for the first time in my life, my severe dyslexic learning disability was in my favor. I just made sense.
We hit the road for New Hampshire with new roles, Walker the highway driver, Danielle the backer upper. Our first stop where we would remain for a week or so, was my great aunt Ginny’s old farm house in Enfield. NH. Another soft place to land as we still had to figure out the solar panel dilemma. My backing up skills were put to the test with a much more narrow drive way and stone walls. After a 37 point turn and some minor lawn damage we landed safely among golden maples right in front of my cousin Jon's maple sugar house.
I grew up visiting this house every summer as did my mother and my grandpa when they were young, swimming in Crystal lake right down the street. I realized I never spent too much time learning about the past when it came the house and the ground it stood on. Probably because I was too busy being a crazy kid. I sat in the yard recalling all of the barbeques, running up and down the warm open fields with my cousins, and devouring black berries when we were suppose to be collecting them for Aunt Ginny's pies. I also recalled standing on the edge of the yard looking through the gaps in the woods weary of black bears. Our Papa had plenty of scary bear stories for us that kept us in the yard. Going back to that spot in the yard, I looked into the forest again as young woman. Even as I write this, I have to remind myself that I am in fact a young woman now. Funny how our child stays within us. Turning around I looked back at the old farm house. I remember being scared to be alone in some of the rooms too. You know, I'll admit I still get nervous in some corners of that house. A "spook" I like to call these fleeting feelings. Walker described it as " like expecting someone else is always in the other room, but there never is."
That night we ate dinner with Aunt Ginny. She took out a photo album with pictures my great grandparents took when they bought the place and then renovated it. The oldest known record of the farm house was from 1796. We flipped through time, and watched all of the ups and downs that came with fixing up a very old house.
The beauty of being a child is being present, living in a moment were age doesn't seem the exist. Your mom will always tuck you into bed, your grandparents will always be old, but not too old and Christmas seems lightyears away. I looked at those pictures as an adult, with the awareness of impermanence. In a few days I would be turning 27. Another year will sweep over not just myself but my mom, my grandparents, this house and the fading head stones on the hill.
The next day I led Walker up the hay fields, just over a stone wall where my great grandparents are buried in an old graveyard. The grave for Ginny’s husband lays next to her parents. His stone also bears Ginny’s name with a blank space for a date. We stood quiet for a bit and watched the sun glow through the old sugar maples onto the quiet head stones that clung to the hill. Through the tree line I could see the mountains looking down and observing us. I remember making a comment to Walker, something along the lines "Time moves much slower here."
Before we left to our next location after our solar panels were fixed, I decided to walk through those gaps of trees that I had been so afraid of when I was young. Shadows danced over a labyrinth of evidence from times long gone. The air seemed different than ever before, or perhaps I am simply a young woman now, carrying the weight of days from my life so far.
The forests of New England are beautiful echoes of our past. When Ginny’s old photos fade, we will still find the rusted trackers sinking into the ground next to stone walls. Until eventually those too will dissolve. With time and each new location the light in our little adventure wagon is different, the sun sets on different sides, and colors outside change. Even thought the inside remains the same, it too feels different every time we unhitch and proudly look at our little house in its new parking spot.
“What is home?” Is it your belongings, a physical location, or a place in time?