We survived 2022, friends, and in some fortunate cases, we even thrived. Cheers to surviving and thriving an occasionally challenging year!
That means it’s time for a meandering year-ender…
I’d like to jumpstart my retrospective with a positive personal milestone.
Yesterday’s post, “New Year’s Eve”, was my 153rd post in a row, completing a 5-month streak of daily updates without missing a single day. It’s an impartial victory at this point with seven months still on the to-do side of the ledger, but it’s an accomplishment that underpins my optimism — indeed my confidence — that I can achieve my goal of 365 days of uninterrupted Rosslyn updates. (Wondering why one year is a significant benchmark? I’ll explain soon, I promise.) In broad strokes, this is beginning to feel like actual, believable progress toward resuscitating Rosslyn Redux, my multidisciplinary meditation on the *art of homing*. There are so many reasons why this is important to me, and I’ve poked at a bunch on them in recent months, but for now I hope you’ll just allow that this exploration, this inside-out creative experiment, this quasi crowdsourced inquiry, and the resulting nexus of artifacts and stories and visuals and poems and all of the esoteric marginalia that has accreted over the last seventeen years since Susan and I bought Rosslyn is meaningful. Heck, to be 100% candid, for me it’s not just meaningful; it’s vital.
But enough heavy handed me-centrism. I’m flirting dangerously close to catharsis, so it’s time to lighten up. Time to imbue the balance of this post with effervescent toast-worthy bullet points like champagne bubbles rising giddily. Time for levity.
But first, an aside. I’m trying to distill my year-ender into a positive, celebratory retrospective without slipping into a post-mortem review of some of the less celebratory events. For this reason I started with a little victory dance celebrating the Rosslyn Redux momentum. My re-immersion has been stimulating and it’s catalyzing all sorts of overdue transformation. For this I’m profoundly grateful. And I’m doubling down on my commitment to see this challenge through to its conclusion.
There’s actually much more to celebrate, but to avoid overburdening this retrospective I’ll streamline my recap by simply listing and linking some of the most notable highlights. That way you can follow the links to more specific updates if you’re interested. And I’ll add a coming-soon placeholder in lieu of a link for those I haven’t yet covered. I’m hoping that this will keep things as lean as possible, because isn’t that always on our New Year‘s resolutions?!?!
High on the happy news is the ongoing icehouse rehab. It’s been a looong fantasized vision (and an almost equally long unrealized vision) that involves rehabilitating the last of the four buildings we set out to revitalize back in 2006. And, in this case, there’s a self-serving motive fueling my push. I perennially pine for a writer’s “garret”, and at last the icehouse loft will become that sanctuary just far enough removed to allow me to spread my stacks and sink into my writing projects. I. Can’t. Wait.
In addition to the icehouse rehab (and a writer’s hideaway), another biggy on the decade plus wishlist came tyre. In late winter off 2022 we finally invested in a high tunnel for the Rosslyn vegetable garden. It’s been a fascinating learning curve, and in a couple of months we’ll be getting it ready for another growing season with the benefit of one year already under our belts. Totally unrelated to gardening but similarly braided into the lakeside lifestyle that draws us to this remarkable property, we’ve made a change in our aquatic locomotion. You may recall that Errant, our 31′ sloop was sold in the hopes of replacing it with a slightly larger sailboat. Well, that plan was impacted by the attenuated pandemic which distorted the boat market and compelled us to stall long enough to deep-think our wants/needs. In short, our plans evolved significantly. Last summer we took delivery of a new 28′ Chris Craft launch that has become our entertaining and “picnic boat”, allowing our ski/surf boat to serve it’s proper purpose despite serving as our “everything boat” for years. This decision was part of sailboat shift as well. In a pretty significant reorientation we’ve been exploring the possibility of our future sailing adventures happening along the California, initially, and then possibly further north and south. This spring we’ll again sail on the west coast and continue to experiment with different iterations for our future sailing plans.
But I’m drifting of course, so I’d better tack back toward Rosslyn.
Despite a disheartening debacle a year or so ago during our first foray into repairs on the Rosslyn’s boathouse gangway, the summer of 2022 marked a turning point. First came Patrick McAuliff‘s monumental transformation of Rosslyn’s front yard, replacing the overgrown, toppling arborvitae hedge with a handsome hemlock hedge. This quick summary oversimplifies (and leapfrogs a mysterious discovery), but I’ll unravel this yearn soon enough, I promise.
And then there was Rosslyn’s deck rebuild. This story had been evolving for a while (all the way back to TimberSIL). Most recently the same OPUD who cost us dearly on the boathouse gangway effectively hamstrung us on the deck as well. We retreated to Essex from Santa Fe earlier than normal to escape the worst forest fires in New Mexico history. With boathouse and deck in unsafe and unusable condition we began cancelling summer guests and plans…
But I’m getting ahead of myself. I’m sidestepping into the post-mortem that I intended to keep separate. Back to the deck rebuild which is complete, sturdy as can be, and stunningly beautiful (Hurrah, garapa decking!). And better yet, the ingredients for this rebuild included an outstanding team of friends and family and former collaborators on projects like the ADK Oasis Lakeside renovation who coalesced at the last minute and quickly became a skilled, collegial, productive, and fun loving team. In fact, much of this team is what has now evolved into the icehouse team.
After the boathouse gangway’s false start, there’s good news on Rosslyn’s waterfront as well. After the deeply discouraging setback inherited from the OPUD, after dismantling much of their work in order to rebuild correctly (the verdict of every single contractor who evaluated the miscarried first attempt), and after painstakingly recreating the original conditions instead of perpetuating the errors inherited from the OPUD, we’re back on track with a capable, experienced team. Fingers crossed that the boathouse gangway will be good as new next spring!
And there’s sooo much more. But I’ve waxed wordy, and my update has gotten too long. So I’ll abbreviate boldly with that list I promised earlier. Better late than never.
Trail building was advanced significantly with the hard work of Tony Foster, the guidance of John Davis, and the oversight of Pam Murphy. Rewilding progress was made, and thriving wildlife population documented. Tile and grout maintenance underway in bathrooms and kitchen by Clay Belzile. Stone wall reveal and landscaping at ADK Oasis Highlawn, and orchard restoration and stone wall rebuilding at ADK Oasis Lakeside. Too many contributors to these projects to list them all, but some notables were Bob Kaleita, Phil Valachovic, Patrick McAuliff, Roger King, Aaron Valachovic, and Tony Foster.
Other highlights include excellent gardening assistance on all three properties by our incredibly hardworking Amish neighbors, re-homing the zero-turn and the truckling, and one of our best apple and pear seasons in the orchard.
I’ll close with an admission that I didn’t succeed 100% in restricting my retrospective to the celebratory highlights. I drifted into post-mortem territory a couple of times. But, for now at least, I’ve edited out our unfortunate encounter with Covid, my father’s health upset, and Susan’s miraculous recovery from a life threatening tragedy this autumn. Today is a day to embrace success and optimism. And from the vantage point of January 1st even the most difficult challenges of the last year give me cause for celebrating success and renewing optimism.
Cheers to a glorious new year!