It’s tough to know where to start so I’m going to do my best to lay it out where it begins closest to my heart… I have a home.
Lee and I have been roaming for 10 years. Yes we have had many homes on our ranch many of which now serve as treatment buildings serving the drug and alcohol center. But none of these were ever really places that we felt a belonging too. They were either from his past, or his momma had such a strong hand in their design that they never felt like “us” and now we have finally put some roots down.
After spending 3 weeks in Tennessee, sleeping in a house made by hand and living off of the land, I’m feeling like a crazy person in this little prefab box – our California casa.
We took apart an old house on our ranch, built in the early 1800′s – in fact it is listed as the oldest house left standing in the entire county. We refurbished the wood and restored her to her original self. I refer to this house as a woman because for many years our foreman of the cattle company lived there. I’d stop by and sit on their sofa always hearing a woman whisper into my ear, “I used to be pretty, simple & uncomplicated.” Then my eyes would search the house looking for clues connecting me through time. I’d imagine her sitting up on the hill as she once was – proud, fresh her apron neatly pressed – topped with a green tin roof.
Lee and I took our time deciding whether to build a new house or to makeover this one – however the old woman called our name. When we began to redo the house she spoke to us and filled both our brains with images to follow through in the remodel. Lee took his time finding doors and handles, windows, pieces of old barn wood and recycled fixtures, as many as he could from the original plantation buildings that now is our ranch and matching the time period.
Our bedroom is on the first floor in the front of the house in keeping with the fashion of the times of the original, a grand fireplace heats it at night and keeps my large sunken claw foot tub warm with its flame. Whats most amazing about this sweet old house is that she is happy we are there and that I am able to share in her memories. I was frightened she would reject me and I would not feel the warmth of a family homestead. A great gift was that I instantly nestled in as if I’d returned to a place I’d been.
Every night I’d climb under the covers and dream magnificent adventures. Some directly related to my life and others from a world before I was born. One evening I was standing in front of the old fireplace in the living room leaning on the amazing refurbished mantle gazing deep into the original mirror just as MANY had done before, I realized I had joined the lineage of all of those that had lived in this house; and like a dream behind me a row of women dressed accordingly to their time period appeared- then I heard her, the house whisper once again, you are the first woman to own this house – it has always belonged to our husbands. A razor cold chill ran through my bones and I almost cried – it is true, this is my first home that I Mee Tracy McCormick have owned, it is the first place that can not be taken away from me since the death of my mother. My husband saw to this and for it I am most grateful. The women of this house’s lineage too are honored.
The next few weeks I found myself lost in an unpacking of boxes, cooking and entertaining – my sister, nephew and person MaryAlice became our first house guests and only the beginning of a line of visitors. Lee and I are very social people, and since the ranch is almost an hour from Nashville there are no restaurants for me to eat in. This means I am COOKING non-stop and sharing with every one who drops by and let me tell you farm folks are known to knock on your door and give you a shout out – there is no such thing as soloist living on a ranch – it is about community. My closest people out on the ranch are Jane Ellen & her family, Christmas was scary for them as her husband ended up in the hospital – he is diabetic and going rounds with his body. Once he got out he was there in my kitchen, eating my food & taking his life back. It was unbelievable to watch this man and his family rise to the occasion – finding their personal nobility via food and taking responsibility.
The most fortunate gift is that I have acres of organic produce just out in the pasture to pick daily. Thanks to Ginny & David Lundell (our partners on the farm) my refrigerator was full of heirloom Italian broccoli, collards, kale, turnips and mustard greens, we also have mushroom logs growing shitake! The Chinese cabbage was beyond beautiful so large I couldn’t believe it was real. The weather was grand too – in the 60′s most days – old man winter has not yet come to the south and the girls loved the pony riding weather.
I think this Christmas I received the best gifts of any ever before here is how I rank them: #1 HOG BUCKET (for scraps to feed our 3 hogs, Luna, Stella & Oscar) #2 a rockin’ chopping board & a slammin’ set of knives, #3Food from my garden, #4OUR HOUSE #5 my family & friends being together, #6 A new GL450 Lee finally traded his Porsche and got me something practical – it’s 4 wheel drive is excellent for the pastures and of course lastly and most importantly I felt great in my body!
The event I loved most was our cattle company Christmas party held at a local farm to table restaurant in Dickson. We gathered all of the people that make the running of the ranch and farm possible – I stood next to my husband feeling a huge wave of gratitude for our lives – then I looked around the room and felt pride – we (all of us that work at the ranch) are really contributing to society in a big way – we are growing REAL FOOD locally, we are part of a truly local economy. Farmers KNOW that real food is what humans are meant to eat. Being that in the United States there are more men in prison than there are farmers brings an even deeper level of nobility to the men and women at the ranch. If we do not take back our land and food, reclaiming our work ethic – who will feed our children’s children? ‘Cause corporate crops of Soy & Corn aren’t gonna cut it.
The surprise gift is that one of the most important people I’ve given my book to wrote me on Christmas Day – THEY LOVE IT! This is a big deal ’cause as y’all know I’ve compared writing books to Coco Channel and her start which was making hats – she kept making them until someone bought them and in her case that was another fashion designer who had the ability to sell them to many people. Well the person interested in my “hat” has the potential to sell them to MILLIONS of folks..I cried seriously wept – not because they like the book but because they completely understood it and me. This is the most important part of the deal forming a relationship that is in alignment.
New Years Eve we burnt a real old fashion yule log in the fireplace letting go of the past and welcoming the future, in the morning we sprinkled the ashes from it in the garden – this was a wonderful gift from Ginny & David. Just before night Isabella led us all in prayer and Lee played his guitar. I was with my people in my very first new – old home.
I wrapped my stay up by connecting to as many of my people as possible, I didn’t do a NFM nor cook on the morning show – this trip was about connecting to home.
Coming back to LA was almost impossible – literally it took 3 airplanes and two airlines to do it. Then they lost our luggage which has yet to appear. It felt as if we were traveling between worlds – leaving the farm and its simplicity to land in a busy city that focuses on the exterior felt shocking and I twisted questioning my personal value – feeling like Dorthy. However this time I’ve already been to see the Wizard and KNOW that he doesn’t have all the answers. It’s hard to live in OZ when I’ve come full circle accepting home and what and where I come from. I was born in Appalachia, moved to Ohio in first grade yet spending summers in Appalachia somewhere along the way it wasn’t good enough and I thought I needed a more cosmopolitan life. Now that I’ve made peace home is calling and OZ has lost it’s glitzy slippers.
What will I do next? In the morning I will return to the girls school for the SHAKIN’ DOWN THE SUGAR FORUM..Lord don’t let these people eat me alive.