Just now, outside my office, the sun is shining, and the golden days of autumn are descending with the few leaves that have begun what will be a deluge in a few weeks. Here on the farm, we are in the between time that is the end of summer and the beginning of autumn, and I am in the midst of it, even here in my office.
Every day, I work out of what was the summer kitchen on this old plantation here at the edge of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.
Most days, if the weather is at all temperate, I keep the door open to a wide view of the farm yard, the garden, and the cattle pasture beyond. It’s the view the enslaved woman who was the cook here would have seen every day when she turned from the stove that once sat where my desk chair now settles.
The ceiling above is made of wide, pine planks, the ones that were nailed up right around 1800, and the floor mirrors the ceiling. The walls have been sheet-rocked and insulation tucked behind to keep it temperate for me when I work, but some of the window panes still have the original wavy glass and a layer of film that is more than 200 years in the making.
I have a table in the corner that was made by my parents’ dear friend Steve more than 25 years ago, and on it rests a printer, paper, and the chicken-tending supplies we sometimes need when we become poultry vets for our flock who lives next door.
I work at my mother’s desk, and every time I open its single drawer, I am reminded of her because of the pile of pens there and because the scent pulls her to my mind, even now almost 6 years after her death.
We bought this farm almost two years ago now, and from the get-go, we knew this small building would be my office.
It’s close to the house – with a side door that gets me right to the kitchen for lunch – but it’s separate, so I can be free of seeing the dishes or the laundry when I’m working and free of working when I’m in the house. Housework and entrepreneurship can be constant, so this separation helps reduce my stress and keep me sane.
It’s also ideal because our hound dogs, Meander and Mosey, can visit me here, sleeping in the rocker or on the bed at my feet, but then wander the farm and pastures when they’re so inclined. And I don’t have to open and close the door 500 times to allow them that freedom.
This space is also entirely mine. I painted it a golden yellow hue called “Macaroni and Cheese” because I wanted the room to be bright and warm, and I have adorned the walls with some old crutches – my husband finds them creepy – that we found in the attic above (the space where the cook may have slept), and in other corners, I have placed some of my mom’s quilts. I have art given and made by friends around me, and the bulletin board above the bookshelf filled with writing books is covered with reminders of why I do what I do.
This office is my haven and my remembering space. It’s sacred.
About the Author: Andi Cumbo-Floyd
Andi Cumbo-Floyd is a writer, editor, and farmer, who lives on 15 blissful acres at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains with her husband, 6 goats, 4 dogs, 4 cats, and 22 chickens. Her books include Steele Secrets, The Slaves Have Names, and Writing Day In and Day Out. Her latest book for writers – Discover Your Writing Self – will be available Oct. 3rd. You can connect with Andi at her website, andilit.com, or via Facebook and Twitter.