Home in the Wilderness

Veronica asked Mr. Hosmer to sit down. … For Woodbridge, Veronica’s simple invitation changed his cabin from a pile of timbers to a station in life. The pride of ownership swelled through him as he casually unfolded Hosmer’s paper with the scant attention of a man who cannot be hurt by anything from outside his boundary lines.
— The Bounty Lands, by William Donohue Ellis

As it does for many, this time of year turns my thoughts to “home.” I think about the earliest immigrants who came to America seeking to establish homes, and about families seeking homes here today. A desire for home is a draw like no other.

Timber framing was brought to the eastern shore of North America by European colonists. Shipwrights, once disembarked from their vessels in this New World, turned their woodworking and joinery skills, simple, minimal tools, and the abundance of available timber to the task of erecting structures with a sense of permanence; an act of declaring, “this is now home.” Four hundred years later, at Ogonek Custom Hardwoods we continue literally to carve homes out of the wilderness in the same way.

This year for the first time I tell Danny the story of Thanksgiving. He has a grasp of basic geography, a vague concept of history, and enough personal experience for the story to have meaning for him. We spent time in the forested northlands of Michigan this year where he saw wild turkeys and deer so often that he understands the richness of the wilderness. We perspired over a vegetable garden in spring and mourned over its lackluster harvest in fall. And as a family we declared the primacy of home in our lives, claiming for ourselves the freedom to establish a new concept of home as a homeschooling family, a travelling-for-work family, a questioning-whether-home-is-really-a-place-versus-a-state-of-togetherness family.

This holiday season finds us more grateful than ever for “home.” Grateful to have Dan wrapping up a daring, magnificent, out-of state project that showcases his abilities as a home builder. Grateful for our commitment to give our child the gift of home; to provide him the time he deserves to grow, learn, and experience a childhood of secure contentment. Grateful that I’ve overcome an unjust prejudice against “home-making,” perhaps a generational perspective, to be able see the importance of this work and to devote myself to it with renewed energy and intention.

Home building, home making, home learning, home defining … these have been the substance of our year. We hope the substance of your year has been similarly rich and renewing, and that your holidays are full of the blessings of home.