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Selling our Lovely House – Don’t take my word for it – Cynthia Dennis

March 25, 2010
“When I got to the end of the magical, tree-lined driveway on my first visit to the Patersons’ home, they were in the midst of lawn bowling. Two beautiful, black dogs, let a few excited barks as we parked the car, and stepped out to join the game. “Welcome!” said my new friend, Hope as she threw the ball. “What kind of property is this?” I thought to myself as I looked around.
That was the beginning of one of my most memorable summers in the last 10 years. If I wasn’t visiting Hopey for one of her infamous Indian cooking nights, I was being hosted at an intimate “let’s catch up” dinner, or helping out with one of her kid’s cooking camps she organized in the barn (the renovated/converted carriage house next to the house).
Friendship, family, FOOD (lots and lots of FOOD), and peaceful, real moments are the themes I cherish from that time.
Fortunately for me, Hope was living in the “Granny wing” then. She had moved home from Montreal to spend some time with her Mother as she (successfully) battled an illness. We both worked in the same art gallery, hit it off immediately, and so when she suggested a car pool, I gladly agreed. I used to drive the 5 minutes from Charlottetown every morning, tunes blasting, coffee at hand, looking forward to the sound of the spin on the tires as they floated down the lane, speckled with morning sunlight through the trees. It was always good vibes going to that place. I would never dare turn down an invitation, of which there were many.
It wasn’t just Hope and myself who had solidified a friendship that summer on Bunbury Road, but I had also developed a fantastic adoration for the rest of her family. Rob and Robin, her two wonderfully welcoming parents, and James, her intriguingly talented and captivating brother. Not to mention the extended family, all of whom I’ve come to call friends.
My circumstances and place of residence have changed numerous times since then, but every Christmas, and summer, I would end up traveling back down that drive to check in and reconnect with the Patersons. Last summer, James had his wedding in the lot next to the home.
They had mowed a patch just large enough to host the small ceremony, and left the rest of the field to be freckled with Queen Anne’s Lace as it overlooked the river. Hanging out in the barn that night, with Hope and James, and friends, and everyone all glowing and connected feeling, a few of us started reminiscing about all of the amazing memories created on that land. “It’s a shame your parents are selling this place…it really is special…and it will be so weird not having this ‘chill out zone’ to come back and unwind in….” they collectively realized.
I flashed back to that first summer when James and his friends from all over planned to meet up for a week to stay in the barn at the Patersons. What an interesting smattering of characters, most of them escaping from the big city hustle, all just looking so positively tranquilized with the oh so apparent peaceful vibes. Yep, those are ones for the books, boys. None of us will forget those moments.
This past autumn, Rob and Robin asked if I would look after their property while they took a trip to visit their granddaughter. I absolutely said I would, and was so looking forward to it, confused as to why they were phrasing it as a chore. Spending a week in their home, was a privilege for me. A time and place for me to get in a great zone. Getting up in the morning to walk Jay and Mildred around the track was such a welcome change to my usual routine. Coming downstairs and seeing the fresh sunlight beaming in the windows surrounding the dining room, and listening to the dogs flap and stretch about and they greeted the day was just fine and dandy with me.
While I was ‘stationed’ there, a group of my friends, touring musicians from Ottawa/Toronto, happened to be passing through PEI to play a show, with failed accommodation plans. I had a large empty house to offer, so with a big go ahead from the folks, the doors were opened to them. It was a beautiful, clear, brilliantly starry night in October, and I remember them stepping out of their big van, and even in the darkness, marveling at the, what must of seemed to them at the time, magical fairy land of a crash pad they just scored. They started to rummage for their sleeping bags, and it was funny because you’d never seen a bigger sigh of relief when I interrupted to inform them they all had beds.
Everyone immediately dropped into their comfort zone – one of the guys made a b-line for the giant OED complete with magnifying glass to satiate his reported obsession with words, another friend grabbed his sketchbook and cozied up into the corner chair with the cat (he missed his cat), another was busy calling home to the girlfriend, while the rest of us played Boggle by the fire. The dogs slept peacefully at our feet, so obviously relieved to have plenty of warm bodies around again.
In the morning, the guys spent a good chunk of time wandering around the property, snapping photos, stealing some sunshine, breathing the fresh air, and just chilling out. They were so thankful their other couch surfing gig fell through. It was a stop on their tour where they could all just relax, rejuvenate, and re-center themselves. I wasn’t surprised. That’s what visiting the Patersons’ has always felt like to me.
I can’t echo the sorry sentiments from the night of the wedding any louder, really. It is such a loss for those of us who will no longer have the land to revisit regularly. I believe it is an incredibly healing space, with nothing but positive, loving, embracing energies all around. But, the memories that were created there have carried us all to different times and places and as with everything in this life, this too shall (have to) pass. I know that things have their own timelines and purpose, and perhaps for all of us so privileged to experience what the property has to offer, its purpose has been served. Time to pass the torch?  I’m content to do what I can to share my connection to the space and hope that in so doing, I can help the right kind of owners discover and learn to appreciate this extraordinary parcel of PEI.”
Thank you Cynthia
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