Where the Land Meets the Sky

Etienne White

I found a hidden doorway in my 1873 barn; it was all very unexpected and quite magical. A wall on one side of the barn failed soon after I bought my farm, and while doing repairs the stonemasons discovered one part of the wall had been filled in, covering up an original, exterior doorway. We decided to restore the original doorway to be exactly as it was first built to be. In doing so we uncovered a massive thick flagstone step that formed the threshold. Today I walk in and out of the barn through that doorway for daily chores. The big stone is worn and dips in the middle, and I sometimes stand there wondering how many other farmers have stood on that same threshold. And what kind of animals have passed through where sheep, chickens and an oversized shaggy dog now pass.
A friend told me recently that whenever she and her family visit our farm, the act of opening the gate at the top of the driveway and passing through it always feels magical — she said that it never “gets old.” I nodded because I feel the same way, and I’ve heard the same observation from other guests, too. It’s a moment, a passage and a portal of sorts.
There is something about closing the gate and leaving the rest of the world behind. There is something about sharing a century-old transition that feels right, too. I find the bridging months, between seasons, represent a similar change; they always feel so special and yet also are so very strange. We find ourselves inviting a change in, holding space for new things to arrive, while also still living firmly in the now, with the recent past only just behind us. A blurring and a blending happens, like when water colors collide to form undefined edges. We find, in these weeks of changing temperatures, air and light, we are tending a threshold, too.
As the spring awakening begins, we can look for things that signify a transition and choose to step through change or linger on the steps exploring and expanding the moment before we cross. For the new season, where are there thresholds you want tend, advance or influence? Which doorways will you choose to stop stepping through and instead chance upon a new way? How will you depart from winter and lumber up for the new season? As the sap runs and buds form, what new growth will you encourage in yourself? Like train carriages uncoupling, to which new chapter will you now hitch yourself? Will you jump chasms or build promontories? How will you bridge to what’s next, with one foot in the now? How will you be tending the threshold?

Etienne White lives where the land meets the sky on a farm in Iowa County where she raises grass-fed, Old English Babydoll sheep, as well as pastured chickens, a happy farm dog, a wily barn cat and her two spirited children. She works at the intersection of marketing and sustainability, leading efforts to create mass consumer behavior change, for the greater good of both people and planet.