Singing Meadow: The Adventure of Creating a Country Home

The lilting prose of Peri McQuay’s enchanting new book has the feel of a conversation with an open-hearted friend.Charlotte Zoe Walker, editor of The Art of Seeing Things: Essays by John Burroughs

Author Peri Phillips McQuay broods on nature with a great love. She and her husband, Barry, must find a new home. Their journey is one to the heart of living, from the Polygala orchid she finds, to the oak tree, to her guest visits of flying squirrels. There is much to be understood from such gentle writing. And even more to be gained from the pattern language of her country life. Diana Beresford-Kroeger –author of The Sweetness of a Simple Life and The Global Forest

Told with the excitement of a novel, Singing Meadow: The Adventure of Creating a Country Home is the much-requested sequel to The View from Foley Mountain. Here is the inspirational story of a couple creating a small, simple home in a magnificent, natural setting.

For thirty years, my husband Barry and I were fortunate to live within Foley Mountain, an 800 acre Eastern Ontario conservation area. Experiencing nature intimately, I established a successful writing career while Barry was passionately committed to teaching nature appreciation to thousands of school children. But now, with retirement looming and the need to pass on our present rented park home to a new Area Supervisor, it was time to begin the daunting search for a new and different refuge.

First came a year-long search for a ready-made house and land, filled with adventures and encounters which forced us to hone our concept of what we truly wanted and needed from a new dwelling and new surroundings.

Would it be too late to wrench up our roots and transfer our commitment to a whole new landscape? As the years at Foley Mountain had taught us, living close to nature is the most important part of home. Unfortunately, an affordable place where we could be surrounded by nature appeared impossible to find. But then, just as we were ready to give up, we fell in love with a beautiful piece of land. Although we never planned to take on the challenges of a custom-built house, this location, close to our beloved conservation area and the welcoming community of Westport, was too sweet to leave behind.

Inevitably, the art of creating a pleasing small home, caused tensions to surface. But at the same time, there was great joy in discovering our new surroundings. Always present in my lyrical writing is our love of the land.

This timely book celebrates the possibilities and rewards of simple living and the healing power of nature. Yes, Singing Meadow says. Yes, you can have a house in the country and here’s the story of one couple’s adventure of discovery.

As it turned out, the feeling of finding home was more profound than excitement. It was a heartfelt knowing. What I want to suggest is that sometimes, with much sacrifice and patience and some luck, dreams can come true.

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