Thursday, August 30, 2018

Time for a Proper Nest

In early August, I paddled down the West Branch of the Penobscot River in the North Maine Woods. The trip was guided by the Executive Director of an organization committed to cultivating wilderness encounters that cultivate and sustain cultures of compassion. Each day was filled with reflective quote readings. We stopped on Thoreau Island and read a quote from the Island's namesake who had paddled this river in the early 1800's:

"I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understand the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks - who had a genius for sauntering. The word is beautifully derived from the people who roved about the country in the Middle Ages, and asked charity, under the pretense of going a la Sainte-Terre, or to the Holy Land. Some, however, would derive the word from sans terre, without a land or a home. Therefore, will mean having no particular home, but equally at home everywhere. The saunterer, in a good sense, is no more vagrant than the meandering river, which is all the while sedulously seeking the shortest course to the sea." 

As the spring light emerged into summer, I'd been thinking of moving. I began to ideate a home, remembering that I'd mentioned to friends in Cambodia that I wanted to return to build a Tiny House on Wheels (THOW). I looked at the MLS listings for Bath and Brunswick and began to mention the idea to acquaintances and colleagues. After looking at the price of real estate in the peak of the selling season, I thought about what home meant and why it seemed important now. The thoughts swirled: land, debt-free live, budget, singledom, values, and priorities. I pondered the uncertain future. After the canoe trip, as a true saunterer, I put a foot forward and started the plan. 

Research led me to a mobile home for sale in a wooded park next to the Androscoggin River. The craigslist ad had a complicated financing structure: rent to own and only $3,500 to move in. The fellow who showed me the house grew up in Alaska. It had potential. As we conferred, I asked him about having a THOW in a mobile home park. He quickly replied that there was one placed already, located in a family-owned park on my preferred side of town. I drove over to take a look later that day.

The sun was setting over the blueberry fields adjacent to the park. My heart began to sing with options opening and possibilities unfolding. The door had swung open and the journey had begun onto a path that was already blazed. I left a note on the car parked out front asking for a chat and set myself out on the information gathering phase. 

Last week, I decided to leave my current housing situation, as cheap and convenient as it is, to give myself a structured work plan for this next step. I'll be in a seasonal rental right on the coast just a few miles down the road from my current place. The area is surrounded by open fields and stately homes from the shipbuilder who lived there.  From October until June, I'll stay with an acquaintance whose positive energy, disciplined self-care, and tranquil landscape will fill my well-being. She has two snowblowers and knows how to use them. 

The next months are a time to explore, look around, gather information, and navigate the crux issues for land-less THOW owners. I'm not sure what will evolve from here. A THOW, a condo, a manufactured house, perhaps (although unlikely) a larger house. Maybe I will find a rental again. I am ready for a small place of my own to call home. 


  1. Love the words from Thoreau ... and am grateful you have found the right next step!

  2. That's from Carlene ... I didn't figure out how to comment correctly!

  3. As usual, another beautiful blog. Thank you, Ellen. I am so happy for you - take your time and fid the perfect nest! This is so exciting!

  4. I enjoyed reading that. It's been a few months since this blog. What is happening in your search for a nest?

    1. Well, after some social media led to newspaper articles, the town's code officer put the big kibosh on the Tiny House. Fortunately, I found out before I put the deposit on the construction. I'll be leaving my seasonal rental in a couple of months. Now looking again and in dialogue with the authorities to see if this can happen.