A Prophetic Dream

The story of how I found my garden.

| August/September 2001

Many people who find their way to my garden, after crossing two state lines and passing through three counties in a remote rural area, ask me the same question: “How did you ever find this place?” Although I seldom tell the tale to people because it sounds a little too fanciful, the truth is that I had a dream about it.

Nearly twenty-five years ago, I was married, lived in a city, and had achieved what I thought everyone expected me to achieve. I had a family I loved, a business, and a house in the suburbs. One night I had a strange, disturbing dream in which I saw my wife and children falling out of the sky. It was terrifying, but directly beneath them was a hauntingly peaceful scene I’d never viewed before. In my dream I saw the edge of a wooded glade, an old road with a sharp turn, a gorgeous lake, and some native plants that I later learned were prairie dock (Silphium terebinthinaceum) and compass plant (S. lacinatum). The dream was so unsettling that I warned my wife to be careful driving.

The two years that followed plunged me unexpectedly into a painful divorce. I was devastated, feeling my life was over at age thirty. Eventually I found a job in another location and began piecing my life together again. A friend recognized how depressed I was and tried to help. One day she said, “Why don’t you meet me after work and I’ll show you a very special place where I live. It’s a place you might enjoy.” So late that afternoon, Susie and I drove out of town along highways that curved and twisted to the dirt road where she said she lived. When we got to the top of a large hill, with groves of trees all around, my friend stopped the car and said, “Look at this beautiful view of the lake.”

Cold chills immediately ran through my body and my mouth hung open. This was the view I had seen in my dream. There before me was the lake, the cedar and oak woods, the little meadow, and the large patch of prairie dock and compass plants. There was no mistaking the leathery leaves of the prairie dock or the north-south-facing compass plant leaves with their shoulder-high flower stalks and half-dollar- sized, sunflower-like flowers. I was speechless. Over the next several months I returned many times to swim in the pristine lake or just hang out.

Susie, who was moving out of state to get married, asked me one day if I was interested in renting the farm. I eagerly said yes, and Susie told me to talk to her sister, Anne, who owned the farm. Anne and I met, I signed a lease, and I ended up renting the farm from her for several years.

Anne was an absentee landlady, and she said that I could do anything I wanted at the farm, even remodel the house if I wanted. I added on a large room where I hosted a number of workshops for people who were in turmoil as I had been. I shared this tranquil space with several people whose paths crossed mine and who needed a safe place to heal and reflect.

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