Set back off a quiet road, in a country town dotted with stone walls and rolling fields, at the top of a rise called Witch Hill for its association with the Salem Witch Trials, lies Sithean.
Once the servants quarters for an old estate, then the housing for the estate’s unmarried daughters, earning it the nickname The Nunnery, it finally came into the hands of the previous owners from the original owning family 24 years earlier. While I was in no way ready to worry about my love life after the end of a decade-long marriage when we arrived here in late 2016, a single woman living at a place called The Nunnery felt more like a life sentence than a nod to history, so a new name was needed.
My daughter, then 8, believed wholeheartedly in fairies. Her capacity to see magic is profound. With my son, we decided that this house was a special place, perhaps somewhat magical, and so we went seeking the right name. In my searches for a place-name, I came across, again and again, the Scottish Gaelic word Sithean, pronounced shee-an, which means fairy hill.
͛ I didn’t like it at first, but the word, like the house itself had when I first saw it, lingered in my head. Sometimes, I think, we decide. And sometimes we just accept the decision. And so our home became Sithean, even before we moved.
When we moved, I knew this house was going to be my last stop in a lifetime of moving, 5 of them in the previous 2 1/2 years alone. This was home, and it felt like it, from the first time I came up the long driveway and saw the asparagus fronds, long since bolted, waving in the breeze in the backyard.
Most newly-divorced, not-that-handy women would have faltered and picked the fully renovated Cape, but there was something about this place that called to me, which is to say that the romance of it overruled my common sense. It had been neglected from needed maintenance for over a decade, the windows leaked cold air, and in the first 14 months, 4 large trees fell in storms, one making a direct hit to the roof. Sithean is lovely, but not for the faint of heart.
It took a year or so to truly settle in and make it my own, but that first year was productive, with chickens, bunnies, a big garden, and a view that displayed scenes like a Maxfield Parrish painting daily.
Our life here is imperfect. There are always messes, chores and infinite repairs and maintenance. The kids fight, I get tired and order take-out, the laundry sometimes doesn’t get folded. But it is also a magical mini-farm, a place for daydreams. As I look out the picture window, over the seedlings that are sitting on my potting bench under it, I am reminded that this place is the only place I ever want to be.
I hope you will love it as much as I do