How I Found My Land
The snow lay thick in places, thinner in others. It was the tail end of the year’s coldest week. As the estate agent pushed open the rickety wooden gate, I felt the pulse in my neck throbbing. The snow crunching underfoot only adding to the enchantment, with trees intensified by their new frosty highlights. I saw one stone cabana. Two. No, three! And a gentle, rock-littered slope. My initial instinct was, finally! This is what I was looking for.
I was here, of course, due to a somewhat irritating kink in the line of fate. A week ago back in my coastal abode, I had relived my aversion to apartments. My neighbour had decided to renovate her bathroom. Hammers and drills assaulted the other side of my walls. I am horribly noise-sensitive, and it drove me mad.
So in a bid to escape the brain-clobbering home improvements, I had driven back inland to the car park. My magic car park. You know, the one where I’d spotted the green van and Maria. From there I had trotted straight into the town to find an estate agent. Might as well do something constructive with my time, I thought.
So here I was a week later, squashed into a small, rather bruised looking Fiat with an estate agent. The car didn’t in any way appear fit for the dirt tracks and mountain passes, but Manuel was undeterred. We skidded higher. The road shed its asphalt and narrowed.
“Agh iss snow! I think we must walk.” Abruptly Manuel pulled off the track, parking the car squarely in the entrance of a cow field.
“No problem. I like hiking,” I said. I tugged my hat over my ears before opening the door.
Five minutes later we were standing in the middle of three stone huts. Manuel was a taciturn young chap, more interested in the trees than in selling me anything. Perhaps this was why I warmed to him. There was no sales pitch, not even a tour round the property. He just stood quietly at the gate and let me do my thing. Fine by me.
So I did my thing. Running my hand along the stone cabana wall, I tried to sense the life of the place. Next I wandered down to a bare ash tree, which I could see straight away was special. Standing beside her, I rested my palm on her moss-adorned trunk. Rocks poked through the ground, craggy heads rising ready to speak.
Next I walked the boundary of the land. It was a hectare, so it took a while. And even though the snow concealed much, I found each corner possessed its own character. There was a brook gurgling energetically on the lower edge of the property, and a gate at the far side leading to the road.
As I wandered back up to the cabanas where Manuel was waiting, excitement simmered inside me. I couldn’t see anything wrong with this place. But everything was snow-covered. Perhaps I was missing something.
I returned often to that land over the next two weeks, and each time she revealed something new to me. I saw her in rain and in sunshine. I discovered the spring water pipe, and explored the cabanas. On the second visit I noticed just how bad the condition of the larger stone granary was. It would need a total overhaul. A half moon hovered over the trees that day, and I couldn’t escape the feeling more was to come to light.
One time when I sat under the ash tree, I asked for guidance, for clarity. And just as I did, I heard a clip-clop-clip. Turning my head, I gaped at two wild horses trotting along the road. They turned into the small path leading down to my gate and waited there, staring at me, apparently expecting a visit. I scampered up to the gate, and these two brown beauties embraced me with their hot equestrian breath.
Over the next few days, I took various documents to various government offices, speaking to various officials as I did so. I learned my rights and my limitations. I pondered much on the land and off, before finally making an offer.
My first offer was refused. So was the second. The estate agent explained what the owner’s minimum price was, and I promptly gave up, because it was financially out of reach. Thus I began visiting other plots. As usual, they were bucolic lovelies, but not quite right. There was always something. North facing. No water. Or a neighbour too close.
My space kept calling to me, the rocks and the ash tree beckoning in my mind’s eye, until one day I walked up there one last time. Sitting under the ash tree, I watched the clouds rolling to and fro in firm, grey waves. The bare trees in the gulley began to sway. Hence I decided to try a third and final offer, because the magic number is always three. Don’t ask me why. It just is.
I drove down the winding road, past the village, along the ridge, down, down from the land. Back in the town, I was just walking to the estate agent when the church bells chimed. I paused, alert, knowing the bell of providence was ringing.
Sure enough, twenty metres further along the street, who should I bump into but the owner of the land himself. I smiled. Because it was obvious a door was being opened for me. We talked. We laughed. I asked if he could reduce his price just a teeny weeny bit. He agreed.
Thus the conclusion of the land hunt skidded into view. Before too long, I returned to the estate agent to sign a deposit agreement. And as I walked out of the office, what should I see parked in the very same road, but that psychedelic pea green camper van. :)
For those wishing to know more details (prices, sizes, etc.) of the various plots I’ve viewed during my land hunt, and my reasons for not choosing them, I've created a photo-filled PDF for all supporters of The Mud Home on Patreon, regardless of pledge. You can also see more photos of my land there.
As always, thank you to the Mud Sustainers and all patrons for their support. It’s wonderful to work and share with you.
29/3/2018 02:15:43 pm
Marvellous! Once smitten, nothing else will match it!
30/3/2018 12:44:48 am
So true Philippa. And yes, the apartment was definitely a greater leap:))
9/10/2019 02:21:58 am
The same thing happened to me with my land in Northern Ontario.
29/3/2018 03:09:17 pm
So, what country is this lovely piece of property in? And, how much did you ultimately have to pay for it?
30/3/2018 12:49:22 am
Hi Roxana, yes I'm quite introvert so I love my own company, which many find rather odd. Having said that, weirdly I never find it's very difficult to meet people. They're everywhere! But one reason I liked this area was that culturally it resonated. Because the weather is very unpredictable in this area, only nature lovers and outdoorsy types are here:)
29/3/2018 03:34:37 pm
Thank you for sharing your experience on finding your new home.
30/3/2018 12:50:32 am
Thank you Ben! Yes. Life is pretty amazing when you ride the flow of it all.
30/3/2018 12:50:56 am
29/3/2018 05:02:20 pm
Wonderful....you know you are at home when the property keeps drawing you back and you finally can call it yours.
30/3/2018 12:52:07 am
Yes, commitment is an interesting thing. Once you take the step, it feels like the land takes three more.
29/3/2018 09:52:25 pm
Happy for you,
30/3/2018 12:52:46 am
Ha ha! Thanks Alex!
29/3/2018 11:07:07 pm
So happy for you.
30/3/2018 12:53:39 am
Ah Noel! Yes, I'm on the last three chapters of the next book as I write. Thank you!!
30/3/2018 01:10:41 am
Lovely mountain views, too! Will you build another mud home or rework one of the stone cabanas to live in?
30/3/2018 01:30:10 am
30/3/2018 06:46:50 am
Congratulations on finding your new home, Atulya :) I wish you all the joy you are to find while connecting with the new piece of earth :)
30/3/2018 07:06:26 am
Wonderful! Happy for you to have found your new place that will be your home. I admire your way of life, your deep connection to nature and your writing style. You're a great inspiration! Thank you and good luck with all the work that has to be done. Regards from Antalya (which is turning into a concrete jungle ...).
30/3/2018 04:34:26 pm
So pleased for you. I'd love to be involved in helping to build your new home! Xx
30/3/2018 04:55:17 pm
love it ! it has your signature all over it,your essence.Soon you will receive a visit ,a welcome home from a sweet creature wo will hang around ,I expect more visits from the equine friends too. The big question will is will she white lime or go not? Is she allowed to white lime wash? to mud?! these are the exciting questions we look forward to!
30/3/2018 05:37:02 pm
Beautiful! I wish you well on your new spot.
31/3/2018 05:07:25 pm
Tears sprung to my eyes upon seeing that lonely tree with the incredible spacious view of the mountains. I spent 40 years living off and on in mountains. They used to call me mama mo. It it became to difficult for me to continue to manage in a cold climate. I'm now in my Mexican palm thatch next to the ocean and happy here. But your land called to my heart. I'm so excited for you and look forward to watching it blossom. Thanks for sharing your life with us.
1/4/2018 02:00:16 pm
Aaah yes. I think this is great and perhaps one of those wild ponies will hang around and become buddies with you and your hot tub when you build it. Can't wait to see what you do with the cabanas -- such possibilities with that.
9/4/2018 01:49:47 am
Oh Atulya!! this is beautiful, I am so very happy for you. :D I too have bought some land and am getting ready to renovate a school bus to live in while I build my Earthbag home. I will have to send pictures as I go along. Actually, thinking of doing a YouTube channel so friends and family can follow my progress. If you ever make it to Mosa Colorado you are very very welcome.
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Atulya K Bingham
Author and Natural Builder.
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