Magic and Mud


When we were growing up, we had a Magic Book.

I can’t remember what it was actually called, although I’m pretty sure my dad still has it on a shelf in his living room – “Treasury of Children’s Tales” or something like that, full of nursery rhymes and short stories. To my little girl arms, it was impossibly heavy, with that faux leather binding and the spine printed in gold foil.

We called it the Magic Book because it was so huge that no matter how many times you went back to it, you always found a story or a poem you’d never seen before.

Now, living out here in Central MA, my family has a Magic Field.

It’s on the way to Acton, which is where the train station, the Trader Joe’s, our pediatrician, and a convenient Starbucks are located, so we drive by it often. And the magical thing about this field is that you never know what you’re going to see in it.

Sometimes it’s a herd of sheep, way back in the corner. Sometimes it’s cows, snoozing by the fence closest to road. Sometimes it’s a bunch of errant turkeys, or a horse, or a mammoth tractor that looks too old to work but too dirty to be decorative.

Sometimes it’s a heavy veil of mist, rolling lazily over the rise and fall of the land.

This field, and others like it out here, make me absurdly happy these days.

I’m not naturally a country girl. I like the aesthetic, I think, and I love watching wildlife through the seasons. I love the idea of curling up by a fire in old house someplace in the woods after a day out in the fall leaves, or of being the first footprints to crunch through the snow – after the fox and the squirrels and the bobcats. Maybe I’m a country girl just for long, cold weekends.

But when we moved here from Salem, I had a really hard time adjusting. It wasn’t just that the nearest cappuccino was 20 minutes away. It was that I love a good sidewalk stroll, with window shopping and restaurant choices and stores you can pop into and find just the right thing you didn’t know you needed. At heart, I’m still kind of a New Yorker, and Salem was a nice little micro-city for us for a while.

The move to Bolton was jarring, and it took us a few years to finally admit that it wasn’t working for us.

I am so glad to say that the move to Hudson has been exactly the opposite. We love our creaky old house and the work it’s going to want from us to make it really shine again. We love our yard and our little downtown, with our favorite restaurant and our favorite brewery and a speakeasy that could make me forget I’m not really in the city anymore.

And we love, love that we can drive for just five minutes and still feel the awe of being a tiny speck in nature’s surround. It’s particularly beautiful to me this time of year, when the foliage is past its peak and the trees and ground have settled into russets and deep clove browns.

This morning Ella and I drove Jon to the train early, since we’re headed to Boston tonight for a family event and didn’t want to have to deal with two cars on the way home. We were the only car on the road, probably because of the holiday tomorrow.

We passed the Magic Field about half an hour after the sun came up, but we couldn’t see any light through the heavy gray cloud cover. The field and the sheep who were wandering it were smeared with rich brown mud, and the barn looked like it might cave in at any moment.

But all I could think was

Thank you, God, for all of this rustic glory. Thank you for giving us a home that straddles the best of both worlds for my city girl heart and my country girl ideals. And thank you for helping us find unexpected magic, even in the mud.

Tell me what you think!