This time last year, I was living at what we called “The Novus House”. It was owned by my friend Roger Landry, who was president of the Board of Directors for Transition Sarasota, which was founded by Don Hall. Don, who has since moved to Colorado as the director of Transition US, had been living in the studio apartment out front for a year when Roger bought a new house and gave Don the opportunity to start an intentional community.
The house already had a complete food forest out front that Roger had planted with over 20 different fruit trees and sweet potatoes growing in the soil. I moved into the master bedroom of the house in December 2017, and shortly after, I was contacted by my friends Gayle and Ken. They were moving to Colorado, and needed to find a new home for their 4 chickens and accompanying coop.
As it so happened, Hurricane Irma had already taken out part of the rotting fence in the back of the house, and the Amish neighbor who owned the property intended to put up a new white vinyl fence. I asked him if he would allow us passage, knocked the fence down, burned it in the firepit I’d recently fashioned, and we moved the chickens into their new home. Once the fence was up, the chickens had free reign all through the back yard, which was pretty much the fire pit, the laundry line, and a chicken run.
The Novus House was my home for two years and three months, longer than I’ve lived anywhere for my entire adult life. During that time, my cat Shadow and I had two chickens die and get replaced by two more, got to live with eight amazing people, hosted over a hundred potluck dinners, installed an aquaponitarium that grew fish and basil, had a few movie nights in the back yard and performances in the living room, turned the pool into a pond – a living environment with fish, native, plants, and floating islands – and painted nearly every wall of the house a different color.
I moved out the day of the lockdown, and yesterday, with all of the housemates moved on, and the chickens to new homes as well, I dismantled the chicken coop. Last night, after spending a few restful hours in Pinecraft Park, I returned after sunset, and sat around the fire with Roger and Tracie Troxler, the first person to move in after me and who is now living in the studio out front. As the driving force behind Sunshine Community Compost, she has created a remarkable garden out front of her own, and it was nice to share the moment with them.
Since one of the things I do best is break stuff, and since the plywood was rotting to badly I could crush it in my hand, it hadn’t taken long to dismantle the coop, not much longer than it took to burn it. As it stands, my remaining legacy at the Novus House consists of the hammock out front above the jasmine, the second refrigerator, and the firepit. We played a lot of songs around that firepit, and I sure did love those chickens.