Updated: Aug 10
I walk down the empty streets behind Edie as she determinedly makes her way forward on her balance bike. She’s not far ahead but not as close as I may like. I’m not worried though, as I said the streets are empty. Not in a lonesome, eerie way but in a totally comfortable relaxed way, like streets are when they are for neighbours only, not a thoroughfare.
I used it as a thoroughfare of sorts though. One of the chiropractic clinics I worked for in my 20s was just beyond this village and sometimes I’d veer ever so slightly out of my way to slowly roll through this neighbourhood I love so. A village as it calls itself, offering nothing more than a grid of residential streets running from the top of a hill down to the waterside, an antique shop, a school museum and a big green expanse that has thoughtfully been turned into a rock and lilac garden.
You know how I feel about lilacs.
But like all those I encounter driving through here I was mindful of the slowness this setting calls for. A mere moment away from downtown Kingston, so close I could walk it, just over the causeway and across the river and yet you feel like you’re so tucked away. And transported back a century or two. I did walk it, later on, working for another chiropractor, I lived right downtown on Ontario Street and would take my dog Lola across the bridge. We’d walk through the rock garden and the neighbourhood, choose which house we loved most.
The summer after my baby brother was born we housesat for family friends in Barriefield village. Was that my first time here? Perhaps. I was 15 and even though I was fully entering the world of teenage desires and interests I still adored my time in the cozy and quiet space. Walking through the quiet streets harkened back to a simpler time. Everything seemed beautiful and well taken care of. Pride of ownership was obvious in the careful restoration of historical homes. I loved reading the plaques on the houses, imagining the lives of the grocers, bakers, and learning the what a yeoman was. I loved the brass bed in my borrowed bedroom, the fence around the garden, the quietness.
Clapboard, limestone, extensive gardens. Deep verandas. Cobblestone. White picket fences. New England architecture that spoke to my soul. Have I already told you my love of New England?? Well it runs deep, something from lifetimes past I’m sure. This wee village always made me feel instantly joyful and at peace. And the whole setting, up a hill overlooking the river. SWOON.
I felt it then at 15 and every time in my 20s when I’d make the slight detour to drive through it on my way to or from work, and a bit later when I’d walk Lola through it. Later still, when I was a young momma, I’d drive up and park by the rock gardens and take my babies for walks through the lilacs. Again any restless feeling in me, quelled. I expressed my love for this area so much that my dearest friend Allie had her artist father paint me a mini replica of one of his huge beautiful pieces featuring St. Mark’s church.
In my mid 30s what I thought I’d been waiting for happened and we bought a large property in Barriefield. A house that didn’t quite fit in but we knew could be brought back to something worthy of the village standard. We made grand plans to sever and develop, maintain the beauty and heritage. But restoration was more than we bargained for. The historical designation is fraught with challenges that we couldn’t meet at the time, our pockets emptied and we chose to rent out the house for a year while we decided what to do. This actually is a significant event as with buying this dream property we sold the one we then occupied in downtown Kingston. It all became a huge catalyst that led to us buying, renovating and travelling in an RV for several months, then moving to the countryside amidst the height of the ‘pandemic’, eventually moving abroad and then coming back. Here. To Barriefield. Oddly full circle.
We talk of manifestation and I’m a big believer (obv). We’re writing our story as we go along, choosing our adventure. Often however we get so frustrated thinking, damn, I’ve been diligent in choosing my language, making the vision board, keeping gratitude in my heart, blah blah blah. Right? That happens to us all. And for me what I know is that timing is everything. And timing isn’t in our hands.
I wander through this village now, at 40, with my three daughters zooming gleefully on their bikes, chiming their bells and racing each other. I think about how I’m walking over my same footsteps from when I was 15. Where I drove with longing in my heart at 26. Where my sweet pups paw prints would have been. Where I took the girls walking when they were babies. Where I bought a property to develop with so much hope and will at 35. Sold it at a loss at 36, there it is now, the corner where my kids will catch their school bus in less than a month (SO much more on that topic soon!). And how all there ever is is the perfection of timing.
I knew I was bound to be here one day.
There is a level of idealism that exists here that not everyone is comfortable with. It’s *too* pretty. Too curated. Too old fashioned. Too about itself. But for me it’s been the match to my own sense of idealism, always. I like ostentatious beauty, gorgeous gardens dripping with blooms, architecture that is obvious in its stateliness. The old-timiness I’ve always wanted, the Little House on the Prairie meets east coast. The quiet village appeal just a stroll from town. And the intentional beauty which is actually a must for me to thrive.
When we moved back from Costa Rica, this familiarity is exactly what I was missing. Buying land has been our priority but as we are particular about what we want we knew we’d have to find a rental for the meantime. We started our house rental search and had high expectations — location plus beauty plus amenities. And it had to be fully furnished. And you know I’m going to be particular about that part #sorrynotsorry .
This is ‘manifestation’ in its truest practice, which to me is the question of: can I so fully believe in what I want that I’m willing to say no to anything else that doesn’t fit it? Can I trust that what I desire does exist and will find me?
There was basically no inventory that existed that met all my dreamy criteria. We saw one but it was through a property management company that we didn’t love and it wasn’t furnished. We saw another where the owners were so lovely, but the location was too suburban for us. We almost took that one, it ticked all the obvious boxes. It was the only one that was immediate enough and was super clean with nice furniture. They even lowered the rent because they wanted us to take it so badly (our kids are always the closers for us, it’s hard to say no to those girls). But I asked for one week to make up our minds.
That was the week we went to the cottage our wonderful friend loaned to us. That was the
exact lull I needed to get into my element, drop into my heart space as they say (who am I kidding, I say it, ha) and allow the miracle to come in.
It was effortless. Steve had just scoured Kijiji as we did in succession every day routinely, at least 3x — Facebook marketplace, kijiji, realtor rentals and sabbatical websites — and had come up with nothing. Luckily I’m an overly controlling action taker and went ahead and checked again. In the mere minutes since he looked THE ad popped up. I didn’t even read it. I knew from the photo it was Barriefield and I immediately messaged to say we would see it ASAP. We saw it the next day. Within a couple days the deal was done.
This is in stark contrast to our experience in Costa Rica. Where we searched high and lo and but couldn’t call in what we wanted. Why does that happen? I know my heart was calling me to be here, I suppose in the end that’s what that was about. I know myself well enough to know I can’t live with incongruence, I’m clear about that now. I’ve learned so much about myself in the time since we sold our wee house on Frontenac Street and one is that I won’t settle for less than I truly desire.
Sounds entitled I guess. But I’m unapologetic about wanting what I want. When you know that your desires can never negatively impact another’s, can never take away from someone else and their dreams, when you understand that the universe is abundant and plentiful, you can be very comfortable wanting what you want.
Am I getting everything I want? This spacious house with its ample bedrooms and living rooms and bathrooms (four of each actually now that I think of it), fully stocked kitchen, sweet and bright garden, big stone fireplace, has all we need right now. It isn’t the wilderness waterfront farm that I’ve been seeking — yet. I can’t understand why that hasn’t come in but I know there’s rightness to that too. So the catch if there had to be one, and I suppose in a world of contrast and polarity there is always the shadow side, it’s temporary. This isn’t actually my home. Someone else owns it. I can’t say how I’ll feel next year when the window on our lease is closing but I hope I’ll remain faithful of knowing I’ll find what I seek. I hope I will be reminded to not drop the bar just because it seems like I should.
In the meantime I’ll soak up all of the rightness of finding ourselves here for this time. Repose has been calling to me for months (years?) and this house feels like it offers that. Stacks of books and cozy spaces to curl up abound. This doesn’t seem like the time for efforting and building, it feels like the time to just coast and rest and enjoy.
I’ve woken early most mornings we’ve been here so far. Walked out barefoot for a small connection time with the earth. Checked on the tomato plants that are collapsing under their own bounty. Said hello to birds and squirrels and the bright flowers. I’ve made delicious rich coffee with cinnamon, raw cacao, a pinch of salt and cream. Stayed in my jammies for awhile. Sat down and read a few pages. I’ve bought myself two new beautiful aprons as the kitchen will always be where I spend the most of my time. I’ve watched TV (Dr. Oakley, thanks for the recommendation mom) and just sat in the softness of my bed, looking out the window. Made pie, bread, brownies, and every lunch and dinner. Except when we had take out, revelled in the ease of delivery again. I’ve shouted a couple times at my kids, caught Edie before she jumped off the leather recliner onto the glass table, redirected her about a thousand times, soothed multiple children at bedtime as we work through the usual transition (at least we’re used to that.)
I’ve actively stopped myself when I felt like I ‘should’ be doing something more right now. I’ve already thought of a brilliant business for this village but my energy doesn’t need to go there yet. I've pushed aside finishing this website which has pages just waiting for me to push publish on. I’ve (mostly) listened to Steve as he’s asked for time before I fling our doors open to all of our friends, family and any neighbours who want to come spend time here. I feel content, comfortable, joyful.
A niggling voice in the very back of my head says this is such a small amount of time you’ve got here, it doesn’t actually answer your deeper desire to feel rooted, so then what? But I’m better at shushing that voice, not burying it or ignoring it, but hearing it and reminding it that we don’t ever actually know. Maybe we stay longer, maybe we find something better and move sooner, maybe we don’t even understand what we want most and this is offering a new perspective. Maybe I can feel rooted even if on paper it’s temporary, maybe that’s the biggest lesson.