Let Me Tell You About The Time When I Tried To Visit My Neighbors And Got Lost In The Forest…

I know.

The title is long.

However.

The title isn’t nearly as long as my trip through the forest this weekend.

It all began with a dream.

The dream of an official housewarming party.

A week ago, I ordered lovely purple invitations with matching thank you cards and stylish envelopes and purple address stickers.

Oh yes, my friends. I stepped it up for this event.

I figured, since we were going to be here for the rest of our lives, because this is the most beautiful place on the face of the earth, and I am enamored with the idea of living here, and dumbfounded by the fact that I am allowed to actually live here, I wanted to do things right from the very beginning.

The first step was getting the invitations, so I ordered official paper invitations with purple celtic designs and RSVP phone numbers, and the whole deal.  They are beautiful, and friendly and darn near professional.  I was very impressed with myself, quite frankly.

The next step was simply to deliver them to my neighbors.  This is where things got tricky.

Now, if you have been following along, the fact is that we do live in a forest.  So our “neighbors” are far and few between.  But, I figured it would be best if I hand delivered the invitations so I could put a face to a name before anyone showed up to the party.  Besides, you also have to figure that people who move to a forest aren’t people who are particularly interested in extroverted events, such as parties.  We enjoy our solitude among the cedars, the silence of the forest and a decent amount of isolation at the ends of our ginormously long driveways.

Speaking of driveways…

In terms of length, our driveway really isn’t that bad.  It is a little walk across the land, and the length and width of it is all dirt, twigs and moss.  Yet, you can still see the street from the top of our little hill.  That, in our neighborhood, is at least something.

Other driveways along this road are not only a little long, but longer to the point that I had to pull up Google Earth and use the scale to find out exactly how long they actually were.  You certainly can’t see the houses from the road, nor from the middle of their driveway.  It isn’t until you are within a stones throw of the house when you see the mossy roofs peek out from behind the blooming Japanese Maple trees which veil these inhabitants from the world.

I began my journey to deliver my enveloped, official housewarming invitations on late Saturday afternoon and I did not return until well after dinner time.

I set out with three children, a stack of envelopes and a vision.  A vision that meeting people hidden in the woods was not only a good idea, but an extraordinarily fantastic idea which I should carry out.  Me, and my ridiculously introverted self, would go boldly forth to bond with my neighbors on this island as we hide ourselves from the modern world.

Phase 1:  We began with easy targets…I mean neighbors.  The houses flanking us are relatively close, with equally sized driveways.  We accomplished these two houses with ease, and with zero human interaction.

Phase 2: The houses that supposedly were across the road from us, although we had never actually seen the houses.  We began down the first very lengthy driveway.  Down a straight, around a bend, over a little hill, another bend and then suddenly…the mossy rooftops.  I looked at this house, which was clearly from a John Grisham novel, that overlooked the water with giant storm windows letting us look straight through the belly of the house into the churning, grayish waters that lay on the other side.  The forest was silent and the sky was layered with thin sheets of fog, which loomed over us until dusk.

This house was way out of my league.  I don’t know what I was even doing, standing on their doorstep with my flimsy purple invitations quivering in my hands.

My eldest had already rung the doorbell, and there was a thin, shaky, slightly older man who came to the door.  Confusion was across his face, staring at the wandering troupe who disturbed his John Grisham home.

“Hi!  I’m Tamarah, and we just moved into the green house across the street.  We are having a housewarming party in a few weeks, and we would love it if you were able to come!” I said, as confident as a wolf, as I held out my invitation to him.

Please take the invitation.

“It’s nice to meet you! I’m Tim.  Oh, you just moved in?  To the old Feally’s home?”

“Yes, we have been there for a month and I didn’t want to wait too long until I met our neighbors.” Big, friendly smile.

“That sounds lovely!  I look forward to coming! Thank you for walking all the way down here to drop this off!”

“Wonderful!  We will see you then!”

I swear, on all my stack of original Nancy Drew books, that is exactly how the conversation went.

With a bolster in my step, I walked all the way down the mossy driveway back to our road.  And on to the next extremely long driveway.

And the next extremely long driveway.

And…the…next….extremely…long…driveway.

By this time, two of the three children had fallen away and retired back to our house.  I couldn’t blame them at all; we had already visited two beaches and hiked at a lake, all on our island, earlier in the day, so we were a little worn out before then.  It was just me and my oldest, keeping the journey, and the dream, alive.

However, at this point we were tired, too, and were standing at the doorstep of an empty house and wondering how many more houses there were to visit…when suddenly…

We spotted a little trail that cut through the forest.  This little trail joined these houses together!  What luck!!

We hurried across the little trail and cut through the forest to the next house.

And the next house.

And the next house.

By the time we had reached June and Victor’s house, we were almost out of invitations; but we had met so many of our very friendly neighbors, it was exciting!  I spent time being invited in and given email addresses, and hearing about the history of the neighborhood, and what they do and what we do.  Despite my original hesitation for this venture, it was becoming amazingly successful!

We approached June and Victor’s house with ease, and explained our housewarming party ideas and we would love to see them there.

“Where do you live?”

“We live in the green house a little down from the mailboxes.  In the old Feally’s house.”

“The green house…?”

“..Yes…it is next to the mailboxes.  When you go down the road, and turn right…”

“Turn right…?  How…did you get here?  Did you walk all the way down the driveway to get here?”

I explained how we had originally gone down many driveways already, until we found the little path that cut through the woods.  And that was our brilliant plan, and how we got to their house so quickly!

Her husband was listening from the other room, and came in to see us in person.  Both of them began chuckling.  And then they began laughing.

“Well, I don’t know where the green house is on your street…because you aren’t on your street anymore!  …Do you know where you are?”

Suddenly, I didn’t.  I was simply going down driveways to deliver invitations to our neighbors…wasn’t I?

Not only were they not our neighbors, but we were on a street a mile away from my house.

That’s right folks.  A mile away from my house.  In another forest.  On another street.  They had never even driven down my road in the whole 20-something years they had lived there.

I can’t even begin to tell you how pleasant they were.  Victor got out his iPad, and we charted out what happened on Google Maps.  I showed him where we lived (“I live in this clump of trees”) and he showed me where they lived, and where we were (“We live in these clump of trees”).  June was extremely helpful and walked me over to her neighbors house, to make sure I actually got there, and said I needed to talk with her because she actually had a neighborhood network already in place, and I should get connected with her.  After that (she wasn’t home, but I got to meet her very friendly husband), I got out my iPhone to plot a course on the map to get home.

Ugh. All the way back up to the main road, then over the main road, then down my road, turn…and three doors down and I was home.

We were a little tempted to call Ben and have him pick us up by then.  Our little journey had already taken an hour and a half, and I was more than tired.  Plus, we were losing sunlight rapidly and there are no streetlights out in our neck of the woods.

We began walking, again, farther down the road.  I was dreading the walk, just because it would take so long and I was walking in thick wellies.  My feet were killing me.

As luck would have it, I actually recognized the woods we were coming upon…we had actually cut across these woods before, on another day, and I knew the other side led to our street!  We had to chance it: into the woods we went.

I love those woods because they are quiet, peaceful, and there is a random meadow with gigantic sheep in the middle of it.  I love those sheep.  They look downright confused when they are approached by people interfering with their sheeping activities.  Slowly, they each walk over to the fence and stare at us.  They softly pat their hooves on the ground as they track us passing by their meadow.  They have nearly inaudible bleats between themselves, trying to figure out where we came from, until off we go on our merry way, leaving those poor, confused sheep to their sheeping business.

Now, at this point you would think the story would be over.  You would think that we would walk across these woods and find the end of our road, and go home with an amusing story to tell.

You would think that, as we thought that.

Until we discovered an old man tending a huge bonfire in the middle of the woods, all by himself.

I don’t know what would happen, but if I was that man, I would wonder why two people just appeared at his isolated bonfire out of nowhere.  I need to disarm this situation, right quick.

“I am sure there are more orthodox ways of introducing ourselves,” I begin, “but we are at a loss at the moment to those ways.”

(That is really what I said.  In real life.)

His name is Keith, and he is the father of Neil.  He is just visiting from Japan, and after listening to our journey, which he thought to be quite amusing, he directed us to the house to meet his daughter-in-law, Linda.

I met her and her husband, and was invited inside to partake in homegrown chicken eggs and freshly canned jam to take home, got to witness their Roomba and listen to their 3 little kids having a very boisterous bath time upstairs, led by grandma.  They told me about things they discovered on the island, and how wonderful it has been living there.

We gave our last invitation to Linda and Neil, whom I am thoroughly looking forward to getting to know better, and headed back home.

It was a long trip, but it was such an interesting trip.  What astonishes me is how all these very different people can live hidden away in the forest, and I got to have the delight of meeting them all on my rambling, mossy, lost-in-the-woods adventure.

It is amazing what I find behind these trees, all the time.

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