Winter at The Haven

For reasons I will explain next week, I am a bit behind on posting things. However,  a couple of weeks ago we made a quick day trip up to the Haven.

First off, visiting this time of year means wearing blaze orange. Nobody should be hunting on our land, but with the amount of gunfire we heard while we were up there, better safe than sorry.

December 001

(photo credit goes to Evie)

Even with the vests on I’m absolutely positive we don’t look like the hunting type, but as we were coming out of the woods one of the neighbors stopped and asked if we’d been hunting and if we’d seen anything. I looked from my five year old to my two year old and back to him, and then I realized that, not only was he not kidding, but he was seriously waiting for an answer. That place is a whole different world, I’m telling you. I’m sure he’d be at a loss for words if I asked him if he’d paid $36 for parking.

The big bummer was that most of our signs were down. I obviously didn’t check them all, so I’m hoping the ones close to the road that are more exposed to the wind were the only ones effected. Looks like I have another job to (re)do in the spring. On the plus side, the raspberries seem to be doing well, and we continued the tradition of taking home a little piece of the Haven for a Christmas tree.


Often when we go up there, we don’t get a chance to really explore South Haven, so it was nice to be able to do some of that. We checked out a restaurant (honestly not too impressed, but I’m glad we gave it a try!) and afterwards watched the awkward pre-teens on their awkward first dates at the ice rink.

We accomplished a lot this this year: making paths, cutting trees for wood, clearing out around the blueberries, getting the no trespassing signs up, planting the raspberries, finding a potential house location and clearing it out a little bit, hanging the swing/slide, and building the fire pit. We have even more ambitious plans for next year, including starting to  clear for the driveway and planting some fruit trees and some plants that don’t need a lot of care. Additionally I think of all the different people who came up and helped us this year, and I hope they all had a good time. I certainly enjoyed all of the help and companionship.

I feel like a broken record some times, but it just feels so wonderful to be up there, sitting in the woods, in the quiet, and just relaxing. Doing hard, manual labor there is more relaxing than sitting around here in the city. Going up there really does recharge my batteries a little bit, even if it’s only for a couple of hours.

I’m already pining for another trip (get it? pining?)

Finally, a camping trip where it didn’t rain for once!

We spent two nights at The Haven, and we had beautiful weather. It was in the 80’s during the day, and down to the 60’s at night. Most importantly, NO RAIN! I don’t know why I’m such a camping rain magnet, but I’m glad my powers were not active for once.

We’re really starting to know our way around the land a little bit. We spent most of the day on Friday carving paths to various things with our new loppers (especially the potty tree). Most importantly, I think we might have found the location for our future tiny house! It’s in a sort of clearer area between a triangle of truly massive pine trees. Well shaded, midway back in the woods, and not too far from a clearing that may serve for fruit trees. Definitely some potential.

Equally importantly, we did find the mythical blueberry bushes towards the back of our property, and they were delicious. We might need to bolster our stock with a few extra bushes next year.

We’re starting to know our way around South Haven a little bit as well. On Saturday morning, we hit up the most excellent farmers’ market, followed by coffee @ Julias. I think this is going to become a Haven tradition (especially considering we all were in need of a real bathroom by Saturday morning!!) Also, strange coincidence, one of the vendors at the farmer’s market was the City Hippie, a family from Evie’s school and a maker of extremely beautiful things. Evie and Ollie did a kids’ activity at the market and colored some canvas bags with fabric markers and stencils, and they both turned out really well. They’re both very proud of their bags and they’ve shown them to everyone they’ve come in contact with since then.

By lunch time, some friends had arrived, and the work portion of our trip was over. Although I don’t think she really realized it at the time, I think that Evie probably had one of the best days of her life. To have friends her age there to play with (who don’t get frustrated with her no matter how bossy she is), to hike with and make up potty stories with, and to hide behind the tent and tell secrets with was about as fun as it gets. We found a dog-friendly beach and all had a great time, even if the water was a little cold and the waves were a little sneaky (some unexpected water in the face a time or two).

Ollie also had a great time with Maya and Elsie (he said his favorite part of the weekend was singing “Twinkle Twinkle” with them), but for his money, he was just happy to play in the sand. All day, every day, nothing but sand. We would no sooner wash his hands or put on his pajamas or whatever, and he’d be back in it again. He had sand everywhere, including what was basically a sand hood over his head and neck, which got pretty disgusting when we were forced to put a layer of vaseline on top of it all. Yuck.

Ollie played in the sand so much he was literally delusional. He shouted in his sleep, “I want to go under the sand!” I thought he must have meant, “I DON’T want to go under the sand,” nightmare style, but he repeated it several times and he definitely wanted to go under the sand. Based on how much sand he had on him, he almost got his wish.

And the best part about The Haven? You can be as LOUD AS YOU WANT:

(I love how Ollie just flinches a lot and looks confused, but still wants to be part of the group.)

Unfortunately, the worst part about The Haven is ticks. We found at least a dozen crawling around at various times, and poor Ollie won the dubious honor of being the first person to have a tick attached to them at The Haven. We checked him pretty thoroughly at bedtime, so it must have crawled up to his head during the night. We handled it pretty quickly and calmly, and Oliver didn’t quite seem to mind, handling it with his usual good-natured nonchalance (“The ladybug bit me!”).

Finally, on the way home, we stopped and picked 7 3/4 pounds of blueberries. Evie in particular did a great job. I was really surprised. The last time she went picking, she did what Ollie did this time, which was basically eat every blueberry that went in her bucket. She was pretty proud of herself, and cried quite a bit when she accidentally spilled her bucket. But she got back to it and ended up picking a full quart by herself!

A great trip and, as always, it makes me want to go back again!