This is where I’ll be lucky enough to spend the holidays- Lyric Springs in Franklin, TN.
At the height of the housing market back in 2005, we sold our Chicago bungalow and made a move to middle Tennessee. We left the dirty, crowded, noisy city in favor of mild winters and lots of space. Our log home was not quite finished. The builder had started the project years earlier, hoping that he’d be able to capitalize on the beauty of the area, the lore of the neighboring lands and the booming housing market. He owned several hundred acres around that home and envisioned it as an alternative to the suburban oases that were popular in the Franklin area.
Our house was meant to be his but while he was planning his real estate empire he met someone, fell in love and got married. Because she’d been married before and had children with a father in Colorado, they moved there instead of this grand log home, leaving it a virtual shell, sitting on that property that overlooked the valley below.
We found the house through a friend, who was starting an artist retreat house down the road. The idea of being a part of that was appealing, to help usher artists through the strange labyrinth of art and life, to slow our lives down, to have some room to wander and listen in. We finished out the house long distance and then when it was ready we made plans to move.
I had a dream not long before the big move and in the dream our friend, with whom we were going to start this Artist Retreat program, had died. In the dream we arrived at our new home and found the funeral happening. We stood there in disbelief, overcome with all kinds of emotions and unable to formulate our next move. The doors swung open in the room where the funeral was happening, the room that would be our new “great room.” Wind blew into the room and swirled around us and I felt suddenly at peace. When I woke up I told Dave about the dream, about the grief and fear I’d felt and then about the overwhelming sense of peace that took its place. “I’m not sure what is going to happen when we get there but it’s going to be all right.”
We had already been questioning our decision to go, things were slippery on so many levels and frankly, we were both afraid of how this next part of our lives might unfold. I asked Dave, “If this retreat house thing went away, would you still think it’s wise to go?” and he answered in the affirmative. Knowing this, the pressure let up, nothing depended on that initial plan, the one that sounded great on paper but was sketchy at best in materialization so far.
In the end, the “artist retreat” plan disintegrated and we found ourselves in the middle of nowhere, living in a 4800 square foot log home in the woods. We knew a handful of people and had no work to speak of in the state of Tennessee. It was scary and interesting and edifying. For five years we wandered through those woods, those roads, that log home. We found the peace we wanted and we also found the loss of what we left behind in Chicago. We pined for it and eventually we wandered back to the North and the dirty, crowded, noisy city. It was time.
We still own that log home, being unable to sell it (having purchased it at the height of the housing market in 2005!) It lives on in our family as a retreat after all, for us and for a number of others. We began renting it as a vacation destination a few years back and it’s actually seen us through some very lean times in our self-employed work lives. Because of this place we’ve been able to keep our connection with the folks we came to love in Tennesee, we’ve been lucky enough to spend time in the woods still, we’ve been able to provide a beautiful place for other families seeking out connection and the peace and quiet of the woods.
The journey is a circuitous one, rarely leading to a single destination, but rather a series of places and people and pathways, sometimes through the city, sometimes into the woods.