I'm nearing the end of the Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge, and have chosen A Year on Ladybug Farm by Donna Ball to read this week.
Initially when I began reading the book, I thought I wouldn't like it. It was about a group of three women who were focused on fashion, their shoes, parties, and - to me - things that weren't that meaningful in the greater scheme of life.
My opinion changed when the three women - Cici, Lindsay, and Bridget - all single for different reasons (e..g, divorced, widowed, never married) decided to make a major decision and investment together: to purchase a run-down mansion in the Shenandoah Valley.
They named their farm "Ladybug Farm" because of the multitude of ladybugs that were present in the home as well as the fact that ladybugs are symbols of good luck.
The old home - although beautiful in design - had fallen into a state of neglect and needed quite a bit of repair and improvement to make it suitable to live in. They take on many home improvement projects either themselves or with the help of local residents who slowly transform the mansion into a home.
Despite the improvements, they are met with disaster after disaster. Each improvement seems to cost significantly more than they envisioned, and they become concerned that they have made a grave error in purchasing the home...despite the agreement that they would commit to it for only one year and then decide what to do at the end of the year.
Some of the sections of the book reminded me of the ongoing challenges we've had with our own home and land; and how problem after problem seems to surface...and the cost of dealing with the issues continues to rise. It made the book a rather realistic portrayal of what life is like living in an old home that had a good amount of neglect and needed improvement.
On a more positive note, there were parts of the book that made me long for a vegetable and herb garden again after reading about all that was being harvested, preserved, and enjoyed at meals. I'm hoping that in 2015 we can find a large enough spot close to our home to start a garden. It would be nice to be able to pick fresh vegetables and herbs, and use them for meals like I used to do.
One of the things I learned was that there are things called "follies" (or the singular "folly") that are essential little buildings with no practical purpose. Ladybug Farm had a folly in its woods. At one time it was "like a little fairy castle....It used to be painted green with white gingerbread scrollwork."
So, I looked up "folly" and found what defines it, according to Wikipedia:
- They have no purpose other than as an ornament. Often they have some of the appearance of a building constructed for a particular purpose, such as a castle or tower, but this appearance is a sham. Equally, if they have a purpose, it may be disguised.
- They are buildings or parts of buildings. Thus they are distinguished from other garden ornaments such as sculpture.
- They are purpose-built. Follies are deliberately built as ornaments.
- They are often eccentric in design or construction. This is not strictly necessary; however, it is common for these structures to call attention to themselves through unusual details or form.
- There is often an element of fakery in their construction. The canonical example of this is the sham ruin: a folly which pretends to be the remains of an old building but which was in fact constructed in that state.
- They were built or commissioned for pleasure.
In the end, the women realize that they all have changed for the better, and that their previous lives were in no comparison to the richly-rewarding life they were leading now. As Lindsay said, "This is not about the house. It's about who we've become because of the house. And I can't go back to the person I was before, even if I wanted to."
And that's something that I feel when I think of living at the farm here. I think of all the lessons I've learned and opportunities I've had because of living here; and for those reasons I can't envision living anywhere else. It simply wouldn't be the same.