In creating the Down Yonder Fund for the Arts to honor Peter, our thoughts were to continue his legacy of generosity and hospitality out here. When we brainstormed for a mission statement, the word "retreat" kept arising. We have a good space for events, of course, but on an ongoing basis I think our primary offering is time and space apart from the rush of daily life. Besides the music building, which many of you know, we have two small cabins for retreating. One is equipped for one person for overnight.
When Jessie, Amanda, and I presented Peter with the idea for the Down Yonder Fund for the Arts we all agreed to define "arts" broadly. One of the first things Peter said when we gave him the booklet we'd created was, "Include healing arts, too." Well, last week we added "Legal Arts," because our first visitor to the Tiny House came here to find a peaceful place to study for her upcoming bar exam. Having a daughter who took (and passed) the bar a couple of years ago, I was happy to provide that space.
Jasmina Nogo was born in Bosnia and grew up in Durham from about age 10. She went to UNC and, a few years later, to UNC law school.
Jasmina was a a perfect first visitor. Getting the cabin ready helped me see what was needed, and having her here has spurred me to hurry up on the deck extension and outdoor shower.
|Tiny House with residual snow|
I enjoyed her company. We're both introverts, but enjoyed our encounters and planned one dinner together which became a long evening talking in the front yard. She loved being here, and wrote a few paragraphs about her experience (below).
We have a musician visitor lined up for the early fall, and hope others will come before the cold weather rolls in.
7/21/2015 - by Jasmina Nogo
When Susan asked me to write about my experience at Down Yonder Farm, my mind started flooding with adjectives, and I thought - there just aren’t words to describe the feelings, clarity, sensations, depth and peace that I experienced at Down Yonder. But I will do my best to put words to a most ineffable experience. I arrived on a beautiful summer Sunday afternoon and planned to spend a couple of days retreating from the helter skelter of my life in order to find peace and clarity preparing for the bar exam. As I drove down the gravel driveway onto the farm, I thought to myself - “I’m never going to want to leave this place.” It only got better from there.
Susan wasn’t home when I arrived, but I felt guided around the place nonetheless. It felt like home from the beginning and Susan made me feel welcome before I even got there. I stayed in the Tiny House - a cozy, quaint and loved little house, perfect for one person. Susan offered the Writer’s Cabin as a study space, but I found the Tiny House perfect for both a good night’s rest and a day’s studying. The sleeping cot was perfect for peaceful sleep and at night as I slept with the windows open I could hear the horses sporadically neighing, the bullfrogs of the night and the summer thunderstorms beating on the roof.
The Tiny House is only a few feet from the main house, where the bathroom, kitchen and all other necessities are. Susan was tremendously generous in sharing her space, making me feel welcome and providing much more than I needed - a bike to ride, a beautiful meal to share, woods to hike in, and meaningful conversation to engage in. The farm carries with it a history that you can feel in the grass, stories you can hear in the wind and love that envelops and embraces you, even if you’re strangers at first.
There’s no separating Down Yonder Farm from Susan and the life she and Peter built there with their family. All of the love and intention with which Down Yonder was built continues to resonate. Coming to Down Yonder you become part of the history and creation of a magical sanctuary.
I couldn’t leave when the time came, and after prolonging my stay a few days, I continue to think about, miss and daydream about Down Yonder Farm.