Advent 2021 – December 10

December 10 – Lisa and Neil

Several ornaments were then presented, along with the stories of when they received or made them, and Molly noticed that as each was placed on the tree, the evergreen seemed to shine a bit brighter. It could just be nothing, but she doubted it. Something was happening. She just couldn’t put her finger on it yet.

You could be overthinking this too, she told herself ruefully. Sometimes a tree decorating is just that. It doesn’t have to be anything else.

Except look at the people who started it,  Schrodinger said dryly. There’s always a deeper motive for at least one of them, and probably all three.

As if he’d heard, Old Man Winter looked over at them and winked.

Truth, Molly conceded.

The next people to step up were neighbors of Molly and Schrodinger. Lisa and Neil Jackson owned the farm next door to CrossCat Farm, and they had, among other things, a herd of reindeer. In the winter, they (like many other residents of Carter’s Cove) preferred to hitch one of the reindeer to a sleigh and travel that way. It was easier, especially on the outskirts of town, where the snow tended to drift high. Molly, Drew and Schrodinger had their own sleigh and often borrowed one of the reindeer to pull it.

“We came to the Cove late in life,” Lisa said, looking at her husband. “It’s our retirement home, and Starfield Farm has been good to us. We’d both been physicians, you see, and lived and worked in a big city. Now, well, it’s good to take care of ourselves and the people around us.”

Neil nodded. “The Farm, and the Cove, taught us how to slow back down. Smell the roses, or the evergreens, as the case may be. It’s something that the rest of the world seems to have forgotten.”

“And we found it by accident.” Lisa laughed. “We took a wrong turn and got lost. The realtor was not happy with us.”

The grey descended, and when it cleared, Molly and Schrodinger found themselves out in the summer woods of Maine. In front of them sprawled a large farmhouse with the roof of a barn peeking over one of the ells. As they watched, a small car drove up the dirt road that disappeared into the trees. It was definitely a city car – small, energy-efficient, and easy to park on crowded streets. In front of the big house, it looked like a toy a child had abandoned by a dollhouse.

Neil and Lisa got out, and looked around. “It’s perfect,” Lisa said happily. 

“I don’t think this is where we were supposed to be, though,” Neil said, looking around. “I don’t see a for sale sign anywhere, and wasn’t the realtor supposed to meet us?”

“Maybe she’s running late?” Lisa suggested. “I mean, it’s possible.”

“Maybe.” Neil sounded dubious.

As they stood there, the woodland silence enveloped them. Starfield Farm, like CrossCat Farm, was isolated from the main road into town, and so the muted noises of cars and trucks on the highway to Portland or Augusta rarely intruded. 

“Let’s just look around while we wait for her,” Lisa said, setting off to the farmhouse. “I’m sure she’ll be along.”

She climbed the wide steps to the front door, and then stopped in shock. An older woman had stepped out of the front door, a puzzled frown on her face. “We don’t get much visitors here,” the older woman said finally. “You lost?”

“We’re..ah, we’re here to look at the farm for sale?” Lisa said, faltering a little. “We’re the Jacksons.”

The woman continued to frown, and Molly found herself holding her breath. “Where you from, then?” the woman said finally.

“Boston,” Neil said, coming up beside his wife. “We’re retiring. Looking to get away from the bustle.”

“Do some writing,” Lisa added. “And maybe pottery. Grow vegetables and flowers.”

“Farm’s a lot of work,” the woman said. “Not a toy.”

“No, it’s not,” Neil agreed. “But it’s a different kind of work, and one we’re both looking forward to.” He looked down at his wife and smiled. “Getting some animals. Splitting wood. Getting to know the woods.”

The woman looked around. “This is a long way from Boston.”

“Which is why it’s perfect,” Lisa said.

“You’ll get lonely?” It was an odd question.

“We’ve got each other,” Neil said. “A couple of dogs. And we have two boys that will bring their friends over.”

“Writing retreats,” Lisa said. “Pottery friends. And lovely time away from everything the rest of the year.”

Another long silence. Then the woman said, “Well, why don’t you come in for a cup of tea and some scones? We can talk. I wasn’t planning on selling, but…”

Lisa looked aghast. “Are we in the wrong place? I’m so sorry!”

The woman waved her hand. “I’m Laurel. Come in and we’ll talk.” The frown dissolved into a smile. “I made the scones this morning.”

As they mounted the steps, the scene faded, bringing Molly and Schrodinger back to the present. Lisa held up the reindeer ornament. “If it wasn’t for a map-reading mistake, and our own enthusiasm, we might have never known the wonderful people we know. I’ve never forgotten that, and we still get Christmas cards and postcards from Laurel. She loves to know how the farm is going.” She looked at the ornament. “She gave us our first chickens, and the beginning of our reindeer herd. I can’t imagine life any other way.” 

“It’s taught us that what you’re looking for isn’t always what you think it is,” Neil said. “Sometimes it’s something you just stumble across that’s what you need.”

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