Cherry Hill Farm

It’s 1809, and Shannon and Daniel Healy are about to embark on their new life in the New World with their many friends and family after a turbulent voyage across the Atlantic Ocean from their Irish homeland. Their adventure begins as their ship docks in Quebec, Lower Canada. From there, they begin the long bateau trip up the St, Lawrence to Upper Canada.

When the bateau finally reaches its destination, they continue on foot to her parents’ homestead near New Dublin, Upper Canada, all the while experiencing sights, sounds and terrors never before faced. Then Shannon rejoices when she is reunited with her parents and siblings after years of separation. But their journey doesn’t end there. After finding and claiming their own land, they travel by foot even farther inland through miles of dense, wild forest with carts of cargo, animals, and Shannon’s wee baby in tow. Once at their chosen destination, they begin the arduous work of building a cabin, a barn and a life.

Will Shannon and Daniel make a success of their new lives? How will they endure the hardships they’ll inevitably encounter along the way? How will they overcome the obstacles thrown in their path? And will all the joy and blessings they receive along the way be enough to counter the heartbreak?

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Enchanted Cottage, continued

The sun was streaming in the window when Anna woke the next morning with the journal leaning against her chest. Anna wondered why it was so quiet this morning. Usually, the courtyard was buzzing with children wanting a story. Then there was the sound of the door opening and closing and voices below. Wondering what was happening Anna dressed and scurried down the ladder into the kitchen.

Laddie wagged his tail when he greeted her at the door. Great Uncle Henry was visiting with a middle-aged man dressed in a pinstriped suit. Anna’s brow wrinkled as she approached.

“Good morning.” Great Uncle Henry said. “I want you to meet our family lawyer, Mr. Travis. There was a section in your Mama’s will that you wouldn’t have known about,” Great Uncle Henry motioned to a wooden chair. “Come join us.”

“Mama’s will was easy to understand,” Ann answered as her brow wrinkled.

“She kept a separate will with the family lawyer,” Great Uncle Henry reached down and patted Laddie’s head with his gnarled fingers.

“Your grandparents purchased a cottage before their last trip,” Mr. Travis opened his brown briefcase.

“Mama never mentioned it,” Anna answered as she stood in the doorway.

“The cottage has been rented all these years with the money going into the estate. You inherit the cottage and the money.” Mr. Travis took out a legal document from his briefcase. “There is a substantial amount of money, over a million dollars.”

Anna realized she had been standing with her mouth open while they talked. “Fell asleep reading the old journals but hadn’t seen any mention of a cottage. At least not yet.”

“Your grandparents bought the cottage with the intention of one last trip and then settling down to raise your mother, but that wasn’t meant to happen. They left their young daughter in your great uncle’s care making him legal guardian just in case.” Mr. Travis said.

Anna sat with a thump on the vacant chair not knowing what to think. It would appear that she was an heiress. Now, what was she going to do? Anna thought about the emerald ring in the blue velvet case. Johnny, one of the teachers, had proposed to her before Mama passed away but she hadn’t given him an answer. Anna still didn’t know if she wanted to marry him. They wanted separate things. He wanted to see the world while Anna wanted to teach and eventually have a family. He tried to convince Anna that he would be all the family she needed. The sound of her great uncle and Mr. Travis talking brought her mind back to the present.

“You will be given a substantial allowance and will inherit the bulk of the money when you turn twenty-five.” Mr. Travis looked through his notes. “Young Patrick Fitzgerald lives there with his parents and grandparents.”

“That is a lot to take in,” Great Uncle Henry said. “I have made sure the cottage was kept in good shape and so have the Fitzgerald’s. It is a large upgraded lot on the edge of the village. There are now two cottages, one for the elder Fitzgerald’s and one for Patrick and his parents. There is also a small stable.”

“Well, don’t know what to think,” Anna glanced from one to the other. Anna’s mind drifted back to her other problem. She always felt at home here. They came every summer until five years ago when Mama began the biggest fight of her life and one she lost. Anna would have to tell Johnny that she didn’t want to marry him. Anna was tired of the same old routine. Her life had revolved around Mama and her students who she loved. Without Mama, it all seemed pointless. They were a family of teachers. Anna’s Grandparents, Great Uncle Henry and her parents. Anna’s dad had died too young and she didn’t have much of a memory of him. The sound of Great Uncle Henry’s voice brought her mind back to the present.

“Well, I have to go. I will let you think about what I just told you,” Mr. Travis said, as he stood up. “I will come in a few days to sort out the rest of the details.”

“What do you want to do?” Great Uncle Henry asked after their guest left.

“Don’t know,” Anna answered. “One thing is for certain; Patrick’s family can’t be evicted. That would be too mean.”

“Oh, they will move if you want to live there. Mr. Fitzgerald has leased property on the edge of the mountain that includes a pasture for the goats,” Great Uncle Henry leaned on his ornate cane and stood up. “Shall we go for a walk?”

Later that day Anna had reached a decision. She knew what she wanted, and it was right here on this mountain. Great Uncle Henry and Anna were sitting in the living room that contained a sofa, rocking chair and a few side tables scattered around the room. Anna sat cross-legged in front of the fireplace staring into the crackling fire.

“So serious my dear,” Grat Uncle Henry glanced up from his newspaper. “You have been quiet all evening.”

“Have been thinking things over all day and have reached a decision. Will go back to the city for awhile to settle things there. Then came back and live here. Maybe even get a job in the local school.”

“I was hoping you would,” Great Uncle Henry folded his newspaper. “When will you go?”

“In a couple of days. Have to sell our little house and resign from the school Then drive back.” Anna answered.

“Good, good. The next bus leaves in two days and goes early, ” Great Uncle Henry said with a smile. “You could teach art like your father.”

“Yes,” Anna said.

A couple of days later Anna was once again on a rickety old bus going away on the narrow winding road. The next month went by swiftly and she soon had everything in order. Anna had no difficulty selling the house she had shared with Mama. Anna left most of the furniture for the new owner. There was a stack of boxes in the back of the blue station wagon. Anna had a few special pieces of furniture shipped to Paradise. She tried to let Johnny down as gently as possible. When packing up the last few things Anna heard he had been seeing another girl who looked at him with googly eyes. Well, he sure recovered quickly. Anna took one last walk around the house and yard before setting the house keys on the grey counter. The sun was just rising in the sky when she climbed into the driver’s seat and turned the key in the ignition. From Anna’s grandmother’s journal she had learned that it was best to follow your heart and your dreams. That was what she was doing. Anna looked at the route she marked on the road map before she waved to her neighbor and drove out of the driveway for the last time.

The sun was just setting leaving the sky a rosy color when Anna turned in her Great Uncle Henry’s driveway two days later. Anna’ whole future lay ahead, and no matter what happened she wouldn’t have to worry about making ends meet. Anna had gone from being a schoolteacher to being an heiress. Anna had never told Johnny that for some reason or other. As far as anyone in the city knew, she was going to look after her great uncle.

The End

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Enchanted Cottage, continued

A dimple appeared in Anna’s cheeks when she smiled at the children. She listened to Great Uncle Henry’s story and wished she had brought her tape recorder. Mother and Anna recorded his stories each time they visited and transcribed them later. Anna and her mother made a book for Great Uncle Henry that included Anna’s sketches for each story. Anna had copies for the local library as well. As he talked, Anna took down the story in shorthand after she sketched and took pictures of the foxes.

An hour later they headed down the hill towards the cottage with the children scampering ahead as surefooted as goats. They would all disperse towards home for lunch and to do chores.

After lunch, Anna went up to the loft to put her things away and make the room tidy once more. Anna looked at the clothes scattered on the bed and wooden rocking chair. Anna hummed as she opened drawers and the wardrobe to put everything away. Then she spied her Grandmother’s small trunk beside the bed with an old-fashioned key pocking out. Great Henry always kept the trunk locked. Whenever Anna asked her mother she simply smiled and told her all would be revealed when the time was right. Anna would gain access to its contents and everything inside was hers to keep someday. Anna took the colorful afghan off to reveal a hand-carved lid. Who had carved all the animals? A memory came crowding back. Her mother said that she had gone to Africa with her parents a few times. The last time she stayed behind with her Uncle Henry. Her parents, Anna’s grandparents had died in a flood ravaged land. Anna knew Mother had grown up on this mountain and loved it dearly. It was the mountain and Great Uncle Henry that she remembered.

The lid creaked when Anna opened it. Laying on top were scrapbooks and notebooks with the name Angelina, who was her mother, written on the covers. The scrapbooks contained dried flowers, scraps of fabric and newspaper clippings with dainty handwritten notes. A couple of scrapbooks were marked Africa and were full of colorful drawings, fabrics, photos, and dried flowers. The name Maryanne was on the cover of both. That would have been her grandmother’s work. On the first page, there was a collage of photos centered around wedding photos. Anna found names written in gold ink. Two of the names that caught her attention were Maryanne and Samuel. Her grandmother was Great Uncle Henri’s twin sister. They had grown up in the village. What a treasure. Anna sat cross legged on the braided rug in the middle of the floor looking through the scrapbooks. The afternoon went quickly and before she knew it Great Uncle Henry was calling her for supper. Anna put the scrapbooks back into the trunk and set the journals aside to read later.

Before going down the ladder Anna picked up the books, with Great Uncle Henry’s storied to take down with her.

“You should have called sooner. Would have helped make supper,” Anna said as she entered the kitchen. “Have something to show you. It is a surprise Mother prepared. She taped all your stories. Each story has a sketch. The books have been published, and there are copies for the library and you.” Anna set the books on the corner of the table. “Think you’ll enjoy them and the children in the future will still have your delightful stories.”

“What a surprise. Did you open your Mother’s little trunk?” Great Uncle Henry ut the pitcher of cold goat’s milk on the table.”

“Yes. Who carved all the animals?” Anna buttered a crusty roll and filled her bowl with homemade soup.

“Your grandfather carved those before he married Maryanne. It was his wedding present to her. She always left it here when they were off on their trips. She gradually filled it over the years. She kept accurate records of their travels. They had several trips to Africa, India and other countries in the middle east. Maryanne had always been interested in faraway lands. After your mother was born, Maryanne stayed home for a couple of years but after that Maryanne left her baby here with Mrs. Sullivan and me. They died young, but they were happy. Your mother never wanted to travel that much but did see a few places before she became a mom. Then she said that you would come first, and she would do a bit more traveling later.”

“She never got the chance,” Anna ushed her bowl away.

“No, she didn’t but those were her choices, and she never regretted her decision. Your mother was always happy,” Great Uncle Hernry lit his pipe.

“Yes. She was always happy right up to the end,” Anna cleared the table. “Will do the dishes.”

“I want to take a look at those books you brought down. It will be nice to see my stories printed for everyone to read. Thank you for doing it,” Grat Uncle Henry opened a book. The room was silent other than the clink of dishes and rustling of paper as Great Uncle Henry read his printed stories. A grin crossed his face as he looked at the numerous illustrations.

Later that evening , they sat in the living room in front of the crackling fire. Even though it was summer, the cottage became chilly in the evening. The sun never reached the living room built in the hollowed out hillside, but in the middle of an extremely hot day, it was cool. The fire started to die down and was just the embers of red coals when Great Uncle Henry excused himself to go to bed. Anna stared at the fire until the last sparks disappeared leaving the room in total darkness. Anna’s mind wandered over the things her great uncle had said about her grandparents and their life in the village as they were growing up. It sounded like they had a happy childhood, but her grandmother and grandfather always wanted to see other parts of the world. Now with modern technology it was possible to learn about other cultures without traveling. Anna shivered when the air became chilly. She tiptoed across the hallway towards the ladder. When Anna reached the loft, she opened the shutters and gazed at the dark star filled sky. Anna curled up on the bed and took out her grandmother’s journals and began to read.

My dearest Baby,

I don’t know yet if you are a boy or a girl, but I am writing this for you to read someday. I have been staying at Henry’s quaint little cottage on the mountain. He was clever when he built this little place. He tunneled into the side of the hill and made use of hay bales to shore up the hillside. The walls are thick and covered with many layers of clay and plaster. It is warm and cozy in the winter and cool on those hot summer days. On these pages, I will try to tell you the reasons your father and I do what we do. We so long to see all those far away places we read about as children. Your grandfather also grew up on this mountain but finds it too confining. There is a whole lot more to the world. We intend to see as much of it as possible.

I am growing to love you more and more with each passing day. You are growing rapidly and kicking me every time I lay down for a nap. Your Great Uncle Henry loves you a great deal already., but for some reason or other, he has never married. He almost did. She left him standing at the alter. He never recovered form the shock and heartbreak she caused him. She met a traveling sales man and eloped with him hoping to see the world, but she didn’t. Unfortunately, she died in childbirth.

To be continued

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Enchanted Cottage

Anna gazed out the window and listened to the whirl of the wheels while the bus speed down the highway. She tucked the mauve afghan around her legs when she stretched across the empty seat beside her. Her brown eyes became misty when she thought about her mother’s last few days. Her mother had smiled at her daughter and held her hand while they talked about happier times. Anna kept her feelings bottled up inside during the day when she concentrated on her kindergarten class. Anna smiled when she thought about the cheerful card the children made for her near the end of the school term. Another teacher helped the children keep it a secret. Anna sighed and brushed her auburn curly hair off her face. An extended holiday was what she needed. Anna smiled thinking about her Great Uncle Henry Hunter’s letter. There was the rustling of paper as she took it out one more time. She read it so many times that she almost memorized the contents. There were regular letters before and during her mother’s illness and something about the last letter disturbed her.

Dear Miss Anna Sage,

I have treasured the photo’s you and your Mama sent over the years. I was grieved by the news of your mama’s passing and know how you must miss her.

I am well considering my age but do have bouts of rheumatism but always walk up the mountain every day. I am relying on my cane more and more with each passing day. You possibly remember that I hired Patrick, a young lad from the village, to look after the sheep and goats. He has proven to be a valuable helper who I rely on more and more with each passing year.

I would like to see you one more time before my maker calls me home. Can you take time out of your busy life to see a cranky old man?

Yours truly,

Great Uncle Henry

P.S.

It has been a long time since you have been here so the enclosed information might be useful. No excuses because there is a bus ticket for you. I will send young Master Patrick to the bus station to meet you. He will guide you up the mountain to my humble home. It gets dark early at night and most buses come in the evening. Please let me know when you are coming. I will also let Mrs. Sullivan know when you will arrive so she can arrange with Mr. Smyth to bring your luggage up the mountain in his pony cart. He clings to the old ways as do I. I am looking forward to seeing you once more and hope you can stay for a while.

Anna folded the letter and put it in her purse and listened to the buzz of voices coming from the back of the bus. She kept the picture of Great Uncle Henry’s charming little cottage on her bedside table and had never considered him cranky. The times he visited with her Mother he told interesting stories of his youth and made her teddy bear bounce on his hand. Anna never figured out how he did it and he wouldn’t disclose the secret.

Anna gazed out the window at the rolling hills as the bus rumbled along the narrow winding road that twisted and turned through the green hills. People paused in their work and waved when the bus passed. It was scenic with little white cottages with neat flower beds and vegetable gardens. The thatched roofs glowed in the afternoon sunlight. The green hillsides were covered with scrubby trees. Sheep and goats grazed peacefully almost disappearing behind the trees at times. Little children ran and played on the many paths that wound around the trees.

The sun was low in the sky when the driver announced Paradise was the next stop. It was a suitable name because it was a scenic place with all the trees and little white cottages. The sky was a mixture of blue and pink. The little white cottages glowed in the late afternoon sunlight. The creek’s water sparkled as it snaked its way through the village. It was the main water source and villagers caught fresh fish daily. It was quiet now, but doing the day it was bustling with activity. The sun set early in the evening when it disappeared behind the mountains. Would there be time to make it to her great uncles before sunset? As they pulled into the station, Anna gathered up her things brushed her unruly shoulder length hair into a a ponytail. She pulled out the photo of Patrick who was supposed to meet her. The face of an impish young man grinned at her. Well, at least she would be able to recognize him because it was a recent photo.

The bus depot looked deserted when Anna got off the bus. Anna swallowed the lump that was forming in her throat when she looked around. Where was Patrick? Had he forgotten? Anna was the only one getting off the bus at this isolated little hamlet, and within seconds the bus pulled out again. She strolled across the empty wooden platform towards the brown depot and went inside the homey little place. The heels on Anna’s boots clicked on the wide planks as she crossed the room towards the ticket wicket that appeared to be deserted.

An elderly man came out of the backroom. “Are you Anna Sage?”

“Yes,” Anna’s eyes widened as she looked at the short subby man standing in the doorway looking her way. Who was that?

“Patrick has been delayed, but my pony cart is outside. Can give you a ride to your uncles.” He took his corncob pipe out of his mouth and tapped it in an ashtray. “My name is Mr. Smyth.”

“Thank you. I would appreciate the lift,” Anna shifted her heavy suitcase to the other hand before she followed Mr. Smyth towards the front door.

“Mrs. Sullivan sent baking, so she doesn’t have to go up in the morning. So come along.”

The front door creaked behind Anna as she followed him out. A stalky black pony stood patiently waiting with the reins loose on the cart. There were a few old trucks and cars parked along the narrow empty street. They passed white cottages with window boxes containing Geraniums, Ivy and Baby’s breath that trailed over the sides. There were white picket fences in front of each cottage with neat veggie gardens close to the front doors. A few faces peered out windows as they drove past. They rode along in silence listening to the creaking wheels and the tap-tap of the pony’s hoofs on the cobbled road. In a few minutes, they started to climb the narrow winding road past velvety green pastures dotted with goats and sheep. The sky was a mixture of blue, mauve and pink as they climbed higher. Even though Anna had been a child the last time, she came here nothing had change. Everything was as Anna remembered.

Anna’s thoughts were interruppted by Mr. Smyth’s voice. “There is a sharp turn in the road so best hang on.”

Anna griped the side of the cart as the pony abruptly pranced around a sharp turn past a thick row of willows. There in front of them was her great uncle’s cottage half-submerged in the hillside. The thatched roof almost disappeared into the green hillside. Mr. Smyth guided the pony through the archway covered in red roses, filling the air with fragrance. The sturdy little cottage built out of hay bales covered with thick layers of plaster blended into the hillside. Anna’s thoughts wandered back to the last time she had been here helping prune the roses which were Great Uncle Henry’s pride and joy. They formed a dense hedge covered with pink and white blossoms filling the air with a sweet fragrance. The sound of a dog barking brought Anna out of her daydream. Great Uncle Henry sat on the step with a black and white border collie by his side. It hadn’t changed since she last saw it and was almost like time stood still. What a contrast between the modern bustling city Anna left two days ago, and this quaint little cottage tucked into the side of the hillside. It was what a lot of people called living off the grid. As they turned the corner, Anna noticed the solar panels on the roof surrounded by wildflowers and grass. So, he had gone modern after all.

“Well, lass here you are at long last.” Great Uncle Henry stood up leaning on his cane. “You must be hungry. I made a mutton stew.”

“There is a large basket of bread and pastries from Mrs. Sullivan,” Anna leapt down from the cart and retrieved her luggage and basket.

“Good, good. Bring your things inside,” Great Uncle Henry motioned towards the open doorway. “Set everything inside and sort it later. I was waiting for your arrival and haven’t eaten yet.”

Anna stacked her suitcases and overnight bag in the small entryway that lead into the kitchen and a small sitting room. She followed Great Uncle Henry into the cozy sparsely furnished kitchen.

The white wood-burning stove stood against one wall with open shelves above for dishes, and a variety of pots and pans hung from the exposed wooden beams above the stove within arms reach. Clusters of herbs, garlic, and onion hung nearby. Anna hadn’t realized how hungry she was until she smelled the stew that made her mouth water. The small oak table in the middle of the room was set for two. The white bowls were placed on green plates with wooden salad bowls in front. A pitcher of lemonade was in the middle of the table alongside a cream pitcher, sugar bowl, salt and pepper shakers and cutlery in a glass jar. A bowl of salad was in the middle of the table beside a basket of sliced homemade bread. Anna’s mind drifted as she glanced around the room for a few minutes. Anna glanced at the loft ladder in the little alcove. Floor to ceiling bookcases were crammed with books. She loved cuddling in the overstuffed burgundy chair, on rainy days, in front of the bookcases. The sound of Great Uncle Henry’s voice disrupted Anna’s daydream.

“What happened to Patrick?” Great Uncle Henry asked.

“He had to help his father. By the looks of that pile of luggage, it was my cart that was needed after all. The lad didn’t forget. He fetched me, though,” Mr. Smyth turned towards the door as he prepared to leave. “The Mrs. will have supper on the table, so best be going. See you all later.”

“Come, come, my dear. Supper will get cold,” Great Uncle Henry took the white soup taurine, full of stew, off the warming shelf above the stove.

“It smells delicious,” Anna pulled off her blue jean jacket before sliding onto the bench behind the table.

“So, young girls wear pants these days, do they?” Great Uncle Henry ladled stew into the white bowls.

“Not at work but for traveling and every day,” Anna buttered a piece of bread.

They ate in silence the only sound was the clicking of silverware on bowls. Great Uncle Henry’s dog wagged his tail creating a slight breeze.

They were nearly finished their meal when Great Uncle Henry commented. “Well, guess I can agree to that,” He mopped up the gravy with a piece of bread before he lit his pipe. “Hope you don’t mind. It’s one of my few pleasures. Doc. doesn’t agree though and thinks I should quit. At my age, I figure I might as well enjoy what I can.”

He puffed on his pipe for a few minutes while they visited. He knocked his pipe on the ashtray as the conversation continued while they cleared the table. They did dishes in silence the only noise was the clattering of dishes and cutlery. When they were finished it was impossible to see anything outside because it was as black as tar out there. When the dishes were put away Great Uncle Henry settled down in the living room with his paper. Anna started to take her luggage into the loft. After several trips, Anna stacked everything near the built in dresser under the eaves. She looked around the cozy room that had a window looking out over the yard and mountain beyond. The back of the cottage was like a cave with thick plaster covering hay bales. The room was cool in summer and warm in winter.

Anna looked at the double bed tucked against the back wall and realized she was tired. It had been a long week and the two day bus trip had been tiring because her sleep had been interrupted with all the stops and starts at little towns and villages. The fluffy feather tick looked inviting and after Anna got her last suitcase and said goodnight she undressed and climbed into bed.

It was late when Anna woke with the sun streaming in the side window that looked like a porthole. She had fallen asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow and slept soundly. The sounds of a barking dog, baaing sheep and clip clop of many hoofs on the cobbled courtyard blended into her daydream Why were the animals in the yard? Then Anna remembered that this was when Patrick would be taking the sheep and goats up to the high pasture and would only leave a few goats and babies behind to graze the grass on the nearby hillside. Great Uncle Patrick always kept a few females’ nearby. He put the milk in the freezer so he could make soap. Anna lay there listening to the commotion until the bantam rooster crowed lustily. She slipped out of bed when she heard voices. Anna realized that Great Uncle must have company. Anna dressed and looked out the window before closing the shutters she had thrown open last night. Then Anna saw Great Uncle Patrick surrounded by a group of children. He leaned on a girl’s shoulder and was heading towards the mountain. Of course, he was going for his walk. The village school was out now, and the children always flocked around Great Uncle Henry to hear his stories. If she hurried, Anna would catch up because he wouldn’t’ walk that fast.

Anna opened one of her suitcases and took out her camera before heading down into the kitchen. Anna decided to explore and put her things away later. There were still biscuits, rolls, and fruit in the basket. When Anna opened the small green fridge, she took out the pitcher of cold goats’ milk and poured a glass. She hadn’t had any for a long time and missed it. As soon as Anna ate an apple and a biscuit with jam, she set out to join the others on the mountain. Anna knew the trails like the back of her hand.

It wasn’t long before Anna caught up to her uncle and his companions. “Oh, look who’s up,” Great Uncle Henry said with a grin that made his white walrus mustache bob up and down. “Did you find something to eat?”

“Yes.” Anna took a picture of the distant hills that looked like a sea of blue with the wildflowers growing in the meadow.

“Do you remember Gloria Peterson?” Great Uncle Henry asked as he paused and leaned on his cane.

“Little Gloria?” Anna looked at the girl with golden pigtails hanging down her back.

“Not so little now,” Gloria answered. “I come up to help your uncle every day now that the babies are bigger and can help Mother.”

“How is your mother?” Anna asked as they continued up the rocky hill.

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Cherry Hill Farm

It’s 1809, and Shannon and Daniel Healy are about to embark on their new life in the New World with their many friends and family after a turbulent voyage across the Atlantic Ocean form their Irish homeland. Their adventure begins as their ship docks in Quebec, Lower Canada. From there, they begin the long bateau trip up the St. Lawrence to Upper Canada.

When the bateau finally reaches its destination, they continue on foot to her parents’ homestead near New Dublin, Upper Canada, all the while experiencing sights, sounds, and terrors never before faced. Then Shannon rejoices when she is reunited with her parents and siblings after years of separation. But their journey doesn’t end there. After fining and claiming their own land, they travel by foot even farther inland through miles of dense, wild forest with carts of cargo, animals, and Shannon’s wee baby in tow. Once at their chosen destination, they begin the arduous work of building a cabin, a barn and a life.

.

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Enchanted Cottage, continued

An elderly man came out of the backroom. “Are you Anna Sage?”

“Yes,” Ann’s eyes widened as she looked at the short stubby man standing in the doorway looking her way. Who was that?

“Patrick has been delayed, but my pony cart is outside. Can give you a ride to your uncles.” He took his corncob pipe out of his mouth and tapped it in an ashtray. “My name is Mr. Smyth.”

“Thank you. Would appreciate the lift,” Anna shifted her heavy suitcase to the other hand before she followed Mr. Smyth towards the front door.

“Mrs. Sullivan sent baking, so she doesn’t have to up in the morning. So come along.”

The front door creaked behind Anna as she followed him out. A stalky black pony stood patiently waiting with reins loose on the cart. There were a few old trucks and cars parked along the narrow empty street. They passed white cottages with window boxes containing Geraniums, Ivy and Baby’s breath that trailed over the sides. There were white picked fences in front of each cottage with neat veggie gardens close to the front doors. A few faces peered out windows as they drive past. They rode along in silence listening to the creaking wheels and the  tap-tap of the pony’s hoofs on the cobbled road. In a few minutes, they started to climb the narrow winding road past velvety green pastures dotted with goats and sheep. The sky was a mixture of blue , mauve and pink as they climbed higher. Even though Anna had been a child the last time, she came her nothing had changed. Everything was as Anna remembered.

Anna’s thoughts were interrupted by Mr. Smyth’s voice. “There is a sharp turn in the road so best hang on.”

Anna gripped the side of the cart as the pony abruptly pranced around a sharp turn past a thick row of willows. There in front of them was her great uncles’s cottage half submerged int the hillside. The thatched roof almost disappeared into the green hillside. Mr. Smyth guided the pony through the archway covered in red roses, filling the air with fragrance. The sturdy little cottage built out of hay bales covered with thick layers of plaster blended into the hillside. Anna’s thoughts wandered back to the last time she had been here helping prune the roses which were Great Uncle Henry’s pride and joy. They formed a dense hedge covered with pink and white blossoms filling the air with a sweet fragrance. The sound of a dog barking brought Anna out of her daydream. Great Uncle Henry sat on the step with a black and white border collie by his side. It hadn’t changed since she last saw it and was almost like time stood still. What a contrast between the modern bustling city Anna left two days ago and this quaint little cottage tucked into the side of the hillside. It was what a lot of people called living off the grid. As they turned the corner, Anna noticed the solar panels on the roof surrounded by wildflowers and grass. So he had gone modern after all.

“Well lass here you are at long last.” Great Uncle Henry stood up leaning heavily on his cane. “You must be hungry. I made a mutton stew.”

“There is a large basket of bread and pastries from Mrs. Sullivan,” Anna leaped down from the cart and retrieved her luggage and basket.

“Good, good. Bring your things inside.” Great Uncle Henry motioned towards the open doorway. “Set everything inside and sort it later. I was waiting for your arrival and haven’t eaten yet.”

Anna stacked her suitcase and overnight bag in the small entryway that lead into the kitchen and small sitting room. She followed Great Uncle Henry into the cozy sparsely furnished kitchen.

The white wood burning stove stood against one wall with open shelves above for dishes, and a variety of pots and pans hung from the exposed wooden beams above the stove within arms reach. Clusters of herbs, garlic, and onion hung nearby. Anna hadn’t realized how hungry she was until she smelled the stew that made her mouth water. The small oak table in the middle of the room was set for two. The white bowls were placed on green plates with wooden salad bowls in front. A pitcher of lemonade was in the middle of the table alongside a cream pitcher, sugar bowl, salt and peppers shakers and cutlery in a glass jar. A bowl of salad was in the middle of the table beside a basket of sliced homemade bread. Anna’s mind drifted as she glanced around the room for a few minutes. Anna glanced at the loft ladder in the little alcove. Floor to ceiling bookcases were crammed with books. She loved cuddling in the overstuffed burgundy chair on rainy days in front of the bookcases. The sound of Great Uncle Henry’s voice disrupted Anna’s daydream.

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Enchanted Cottage

Anna gazed out the window and listened to the whirl of the wheels while the bus speed down the highway. She tucked the mauve afghan around her legs when she stretched across the empty seat beside her. Her brown eyes became misty when she thought about her mother’s last few days. Her mother had smiled at her daughter and held her hand while they talked about happier times. Anna kept her feelings bottled up inside during the day when she concentrated on her kindergarten class. Anna smiled when she thought about the cheerful card the children made for her near the end of the school term. Another teacher helped the children keep it a secret. Anna sighed and brushed her auburn curly hair off her face. An extended holiday was what she needed. Anna smiled thinking about her Great Uncle Henry Hunter’s letter. There was the rustling of paper as she took it out one more time. She read it so many times that she almost memorized the contents. There were regular letters before and during her mother’s illness and something about the last letter disturbed her.

Dear Miss Anna Sage,

I have treasured the photo’s you and your Mama sent over the years. I was grieved by the news of your mamma’s passing and know how you must miss her.

I am well considering my age but do have bouts of rheumatism but always walk up the mountain every day. I am relying on my cane more and more with each passing day. You  possibly remember that I hired Patrick, a young lad from the village, to look after the sheep and goats. He has proven to be a valuable helper who I rely on more and more with each passing year. 

I would like to see you one more time before my maker calls me home. Can you take time out of your busy life to see a cranky old man?

Yours truly,

Great Uncle Henry

P.S.

It has been a ling time since you have been here so the enclosed information might be useful. No excuses because there is a bus ticket for you. I will send young Master Patrick to the bus station to meet you. He will guide you up the mountain to my humble home. It gets dark early at night and most buses come in the evening. Please let me know when you are coming. I will also let Mrs. Sullivan know when you will arrive so she can arrange with Mr. Smyth to bring you luggage up the mountain in his pony cart. He still clings to the old ways as do I. I am looking forward to seeing you once more and hope you can stay for a while.

Anna folded the letter and put it in her purse and listened to the buzz of voices coming from the back of the bus. She kept the picture of Great Uncle Henry’s charming little cottage on her bedside table and had never considered him cranky. The times Anna visited with her Mother he told interesting stories of his youth and made her teddy bear bounce on his hand. Anna never figured out how he did it and he wouldn’t disclose the secret.

Anna gazed out the window at the rolling his as the bus rumbled along the narrow winding road that twisted and turned through the green hills. People paused in their work and waved when the bus passed. It was scenic with little white cottages with neat flower beds and vegetable gardens. The thatched roofs glowed in the afternoon sunlight. The green hillsides were covered with scrubby trees. Sheep and goats grazed peacefully almost disappearing behind the trees at times. Little children ran and played on the many paths that wound around the trees.

To be continued:

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Cherry Hill Farm

cherry hill farm, cover It’s 1809, and Shannon and Daniel Healy are about to embark on their new life in the New World with their many friends and family after a turbulent voyage across the Atlantic Ocean from their Irish homeland. Their adventure begins as their ship docks in Quebec, Lower Canada. From there, they begin the long bateau trip up the St. Lawrence to Upper Canada.

When the bateau finally reaches its destination, they continue on foot to her parents’ homestead near New Dublin, Upper Canada, all the while experiencing sights, sounds, and terrors never before faced. Then Shannon rejoices when she is reunited with her parents and siblings after years of separation. But their journey doesn’t end there. After finding and claiming their own land, they travel by foot even farther inland through miles of dense, wild forest with carts of cargo, animals, and Shannon’s wee baby in tow. Once at their chosen destination, they begin the arduous work of building a cabin, a barn and a life.

Will Shannon and Daniel make a success of their new lives? How will they endure the hardships they’ll inevitably encounter along the way? How will they overcome the obstacles thrown in their path? And will all the joy and blessings they receive along the way be enough to counter the heartbreak?

 

This is a historical novel that will be released soon. The idea for the story came from my own ancestors story. It is a story I heard all my life and had to come out.

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Upcoming book

The past few months our world has been turned upside down because of Corona 19. Most of us have been self-isolating. A lot of people have been working from home some with their children underfoot. In some instances, this also required homeschooling which would require organizational skills. It would require a balance between work and supervising children in all activities.

I am a senior, writer, and artist. I have been working on a historical novel This has been a long process. I started research over five years ago. The research took three years and the writing process has covered a period of five years. I have written many drafts after having several people read each draft. My inspiration came from my own family story. Once I let my imagination take over the present story came to be. Of course, I took breaks and worked on other projects in-between drafts. Cherry Hill Farm was in its completion this winter and spring. It is a story about a young couple who immigrated from Ireland during the early 1800s. Shannon had been left behind to live with an aunt and uncle when her parents immigrated a few years earlier. Shannon’s aunt wanted her to live with them and complete her education. When Shannon is allowed to ride horseback to school on nice days she meets Daniel. A friendship and later romance blooms between the young couple. Against her aunt, nanna and uncles wishes Shannon elopes with Daniel. The young couple takes up residence at Daniel’s family farm. When Shannon’s brother Jack returns for his sweetheart he reconnects with his younger sister. After Jack marries and Shannon gives birth to a daughter the group prepares to immigrate. After months at sea, the group arrives in Upper Canada. Shannon feels delighted when she is finally reunited with her parents and siblings.

The book takes them through the struggles of building a new home in the dense forest. There is a mixture of sad and happy events. Shannon is guided by her mother and sisters and quickly learns how to do things that are necessary for their survival.

The book takes you back in time and makes you appreciate how easy women have it today. We can often switch a switch to make our meals. In the pioneer days, they had to grow all their own food and sometimes forage in the forest for their produce.

 

My book is now in the final phase of production. I will get the first proof in approximately four to six weeks.

M.E.Hembroff

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Enchanted Cottage (continued)

My dearest baby,

I don’t know yet if you are a boy or a girl, but I am writing this for you to read someday. I have been staying at Henry’s quaint little cottage on the mountain. He was clever when he built this little place. He tunneled into the side of the hill and made use of hay bales to shore up the hillside. The walls are thick and covered with many layers of clay and plaster. It is warm and cozy in the winter and cool on those hot summer days. On these pages, I will try to tell you all the reasons your father and I do what we do. We so long to see all those far away places we had read about as children. Your grandfather also grew up on this mountain but finds it too confining. There is a whole lot more to the world. We intend to see as much of it as possible.

I am growing to love you more and more with each passing day. You are growing rapidly and kicking me every time I lay down for a nap. Your Great Uncle Henry loves you a great deal already, but for some reason or other, he has never married. He almost did. She left him standing at the altar. He never recovered from the shock and heartbreak she caused him. She had met a travelling salesman and eloped with him hoping to see the world, but she didn’t. Unfortunately, she died in childbirth.

 

 

The sun was streaming in the window when Anna woke the next morning with the journal leaning against her chest. Anna wondered why it was so quiet this morning. Usually, the courtyard was buzzing with children wanting a story. Then there was the sound of the door opening and closing and voices below. Wondering what was happening Anna dressed and scurried down the ladder into the kitchen.

Laddie wagged his tail when he greeted her at the door. Great Uncle Henry was visiting with a middle aged man dressed in a pinstriped suit. Anna’s brow wrinkled as she approached.

“Good morning,” Great Uncle Henry said. “I want you to meet our family lawyer, Mr. Travis. There was a section in your Mother’s will that you wouldn’t have known about,” Great Uncle Henry motioned to a wooden chair. “Come join us.”

“Mamma’s will was easy to understand,” Anna answered as she brow wrinkled.

“She kept a separate will with the family lawyer,” Great Uncle Henry reached down to pat Laddie’s head with his gnarled fingers.

“Your grandparents purchased a cottage before theri last trip,” Mr. Travis opened his brown briefcase.

“Mamma never mentioned it,” Anna answered as she stood in the doorway.

“The cottage has been rented all these years with the money going into the estate. You inherit the cottage and the money,” Mr. Travis took out a legal document from his briefcase. “There is a substantial amount of money, over a million dollars.”

Anna realized she had been standing with her mouth open while they talked. “Fell asleep reading the old journals but hadn’t seen any mention of a cottage. At least not yet.”

“Your grandparents bought the cottage with the intention of one last trip and then settling down to raise your mother, but that wasn’t meant to happen. they left their young daughter in your great uncles’s care making him legal guardian just in case. ” Mr. Travis said.

Anna sat with a thump on the vacant chair not knowing what to think. It would appear that she was an heiress. Now what was she going to do? Anna thought about the emerald ring in the blue velvet case. Johnny, one of the teachers, had proposed to her before Mama passed away but she hadn’t given him an answer. Anna still didn’t know if she wanted to marry him. They wanted separate things. He wanted to see the world while Anna wanted to teach and eventually have a family. He tried to convince Anna that he would be all the family she needed. The sound of her great uncle and Mr. Travis talking brought her mind back to the present.

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