Once upon a time, in August of 2020, a family of 5 set out on a family road trip. Slipping gently from quarantine, they investigated an incredible deal on island property. And while that particular piece of property was, in fact, too good to be true and too swampy to be useful, the trip was still considered a success. Not far down the road was Puddleberry Shore, which was breath-taking and perfect. By the middle of September, Puddleberry was ours.
But there was nowhere for us to live! The only infrastructure was power to the property, but nothing down to the actual cleared homesite. No well, no septic…everything would need to be built. This was expected, it just would require us to decide precisely what we wanted, and then figure out how time, people and resources could be best applied.
And so began a more concentrated, specific effort to define our next life. What kind of building? Did it even need to be a building? How about tents and yurts? What do codes allow for? What buildings will survive the (significant) snow and wind conditions here? We were swirling: so many ideas, so many possibilities, and all of them seemed wonderful and incredibly far from actualization.
It was hard being away from the land. Through November and December, when it was too cold to camp up there, we watched Netflix in Saginaw and planned, sketched and Pinterested and planned, and threw out ideas and brought them back in. We calculated snow loads and shipping costs and briefly considered doing our own architectural drawings. We came to no points of decision, except that everything seemed clearer when our feet were on the actual island ground.
The calm continued to call. In January, Brett decided to take time off from work. Alone, in the dark, in the snow, like a badass, he set up the canvas bell-tent to begin a month-long staycation at Puddleberry. Every day he sent pictures: sunrises, beaver sign, Julie-the-Neighbor’s front-loader pulling his Jeep out of the snow, island-grown pork chops cooking on the wood-stovetop. Cold, beautiful, heavenly.
We came to visit, though virtual school and virtual work tied the kids and I to Saginaw. Every time we left Puddleberry it was harder to go, though the call of clean clothes and hot showers certainly eased the pain. In the background was always the question: how can we get back here, build fast, and settle down?
The short answer is, you can’t. Or at least, we couldn’t. We did, however, remember that people on the island already had houses and some of those people were selling them. Some of them were far less than the hypothetical solutions we were looking to build, and most of them came pre-loaded with water and heat. After snow camping, real walls seem very luxe. I re-installed Zillow on January 20th, and on February 5th, we moved into our new house on the island. Being impatient leads to decisiveness.
We are now the proud owners of the original strip of heaven we now call Puddleberry Shores AND 24 acres of flat mixed meadow and forest with a house and a barn that we are calling Puddleberry Farm. There is work and cleanup to do, but the timing is perfect. I am so grateful that we have answered the habitation question. That means that planting and animals can begin this Spring!