We were so happy to be back in Maine and surrounded by beauty. This time we upgraded from the Gypsy Wagon to the Gallery loft. This was a small building where the lower floor was a store filled with trinkety type stone designs Obie was producing- things like candle holders and napkin rings. It had information about the space and a self payment area. The upstairs was one room and was our new home. We had the best view of the mountains through the window and the bed was hanging from ropes and would gently swing around as you got into it. The bathroom was a separate beautiful wooden building right outside with a composting toilet, and the kitchen was another separate building a short walk away.
We were supposed to work 8-12 each day, 5 days a week on garden work, taking care of the chickens, honeybees and various other tasks like building, painting and cooking in exchange for housing and food. We were particularly excited to learn more from him about the honeybees and organic gardening. These were things we had some involvement with at our previous job, but never had the opportunity the dive as deeply into as we would have liked. Our experience mostly involved education and leading activities and interactions with them rather than the day to day care. Our time worked beyond those 4 hours would be paid and spent working on stone design, which he planned to train us in, and areas of the non-profit.
In our free time we loved to explore the property. There was a sauna building by the water, a few different short trails to hike around the quarry, stand-up paddle boards to use, a small library and musical instrument shack, a huge fire pit, and of course stone sculptures throughout it all. I love that he had a screened in area set up with soapstone and hand tools for visitors to guide themselves through carving.
Our whole drive back to Connecticut consisted of long talks about our goals and dreams, and feelings of anxiety as we got back into the hustle and bustle of the city.
In CT, we had the most incredible jobs as Forest School teachers. We got to teach groups of kids who would each spend one day a week outside with us on an urban farm located at the base of a state park. Together, we helped take care of and learn about the farm animals, the gardens and even the honeybees. Our home base was a cabin in the woods where we accessed the trails of the forest and dove into many wilderness skills. Not many people can say that their job is magical, but that’s exactly what ours was.
Although we were so proud of what we did and enjoyed every day, it wasn’t all perfect. We found ourselves in an area that was too expensive to live in and a salary that would have us always living paycheck to paycheck, never able to get ahead. We had been discussing that although we knew what we wanted to be doing, CT was not the place we wanted to be doing it. We longed to be surrounded by more wilderness and less city, we wanted to dive deeper into the world of agriculture outside of our small urban farm, and we wanted to start our own forest and farm school. So we decided to take a chance before letting more time pass us by, and head back to Maine where we could actually picture those things happening.
Leaving our jobs broke our hearts a little bit, but we were excited to take the risk in order to learn more and eventually make moves toward our dream. So we got rid of, or sold, most of our belongings, packed everything up into the Matrix and hit the road. Although Obie’s homestead wasn’t our ideal place, it was a place to start, a place to learn more about gardening and food, and a place of inspiration.
It all started when we went on vacation to Acadia National Park in Maine. Both a state and a National Park that neither of us had been to yet. Dan had been interested in WWOOFing for years and it was something we had been talking about and looking into recently. World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms connects you with farms all over the world that are looking for help in different areas, and in exchange you typically get food, housing, and the opportunity to learn new skills. We decided to take a drive to one of the places we had found through the organization and that wasn’t too far from where we were camping in Maine.
As soon as we got there we couldn’t believe how beautiful it was- an old quarry site that had been in the owner’s family, he was a stone sculptor using granite from the property. We walked around in a garden of art, fed the catfish in the quarry pond, and met Obadiah who told us about his plans to start up a non-profit with art education programs there. Art was something we both felt we had been missing in our lives. This whole place was a work of art made up of all different structures. There was a gallery building which was a small honors system storefront with a loft bedroom upstairs, a separate structure that was a kitchen with a garden outside, an old vardo referred to as “the gypsy wagon”, a landlocked boat, and a chair stacked on top of VW van stacked on top of a school bus overlooking the mountains and acting as the “workshop”.
Later on, we met up with Obie at a local bar playing live music. We were joined by his current WWOOFer Chadwick, who drank non-alcoholic beer and wanted a Hello Kitty tattoo, and Mary, who was a professional bird watcher: Obie seemed eccentric and intriguing and was interested in having us not only stay and WWOOF, but to pay us for other work in stone sculpting and helping with the non-profit. That night, we accepted the invitation to stay there and spent the night in the magical Gypsy Wagon. We dreamed we could own one of those to travel around with, or one day have a vardo be our farm market. The next morning we woke up, did chicken chores and collected eggs before heading out and back to Connecticut. This was the end of our planned vacation and time to go back to work..but we left Maine feeling inspired and eager to get back.