Re-Stocking and Moving On


The property on which our family’s summer home sits in North Carolina was purchased over 40 years ago by my husband’s 101 year-old father and his second wife. Yes, he’s alive and living comfortably with Winn, his third wife! This amazing man is the son of a poor Italian immigrant who arrived at Ellis Island in the first decade of the 20th century. His bride-to-be, who was hand-picked for him by his brother back in Italy, arrived the next year.

Grandpa and Grandma Raffa’s four sons became well-respected citizens who led long and happy lives. After my father-in-law’s first wife Julia—my husband’s mother for whom our daughter was named—needlessly bled to death after birthing their second child, Tony eventually remarried and moved to Florida to establish a medical practice with his younger brother Nick. As far as my husband and I, our children, five grandchildren, and various in-laws who now also live in Florida are concerned, the tragedy of Julia’s death was transformed into countless miracles of new life and creative opportunity.

Tony and his second wife, Helen, found their way to the North Carolina property through friends and fell in love with it.  Each summer for many years they pulled a silver Air Stream up from Florida and lived with their children in a  nearby RV camp. From there they’d drive up the mountain, ford the bold creek, and explore this wild land.

In those days there was one small cleared site. It contained an old stone root cellar built into the mountain, a dilapidated barn, a source of fresh spring water, and an electrical hook-up for the the trailer the former residents had lived in. The clearing was surrounded by giant hemlocks, white pine, native rhododendrons, an outhouse, and wild blueberry bushes on either side of an old animal trail which wound through the woods. Helen’s discovery of an arrowhead suggested it had once been used by the Cherokee.

Beside the clearing was a huge hole 10 or 15 feet deep and dozens of yards across. The former residents had hopes of turning it into a trout pond for tourists, but despite the rains and fresh spring water that emptied into it, it never held more than a few stagnant puddles. Years later we plugged the leaks and stocked the new pond with trout. Helen was too ill to travel by then, so she never saw it. Despite Tony’s worries that it would become an “attractive nuisance” that would end in tragedy for unwary neighbor children, the pond has been a great source of pleasure, especially to our grandchildren who love to watch the trout fling themselves at food which, to them, must seem miraculously to fall like manna from heaven every summer.

We consider the trout pets and never catch or eat them, but there are those who think differently. When we return each summer there are always several missing. Last week we came across the headless body of a huge 3-year old lying in the nearby pasture. Neighbors speculate it may have been the victim of a great blue heron, or perhaps the magnificent bald eagle who’s taken up residence nearby. This is always upsetting, especially for the grandchildren, but in the end we re-stock and move on.

Carl Jung said of the violent changes that regularly occur both in the psyche and in the world,  “The grand plan on which the unconscious life of the psyche is constructed is so inaccessible to our understanding that we can never know what evil may not be necessary in order to produce good by enantiodromia, [swings in opposite directions] and what good may very possibly lead to evil.”

I find it almost impossible to judge a thing either blessing or tragedy any more. I wonder if I’ll still feel that way after the next election!

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0 Responses

  1. Ah, thank you for trout that fling, bald eagles that soar and swoop, grandchildren who experience life and death midst love – and for reminding us about enantiodromia. I’m also finding treasure in ‘Healing the ‘Sacred Divide’

  2. Hi Jean,
    to read your blog is always a great pleasure.
    I completely agree with you as to finding impossible to judge if a thing is a blessing or a tragedy.
    May I ask you what you think about positve visualisation in this perspective given that one does not really know what’s good or bad for “his/her own highest good” ?
    Thanks in advance.
    All the Best.

    1. Thanks for the peek into your summer escape. Thanks also for the new word I never heard of, enantiodromia! Why am I reminded of the country song lyrics, “sometimes the best things in life are unanswered prayers”? Or something like that…..
      Sometimes my husband gets frustrated with me for not responding enthusiastically to things right away. But, the older I get, the harder I find it to know whether I feel that something is a “blessing or a tragedy” until much further reflection. Great post!!

      1. Hi Jeanne,
        Yes, an unanswered prayer may be a personal tragedy, but that doesn’t mean something wonderful can’t come out of it. I find myself looking and reflecting longer before I leap too. Sometimes an idea will “sound” good but “feel” bad, or vice versa, and it can take me a while to realize there’s a disconnect and figure out why. I’m glad you liked this one. Thanks for writing!

    2. Hi Giuliana,
      Great question. I think we need to have an idea of what we want out of life and what’s worth working for. I had a vision for my new book and worked on it for 19 years despite many setbacks and changes in direction. Writing about the ideas that were deeply important to me was a passion I simply couldn’t put aside. I may not know what my highest good is or whether my book will serve it, but I’m not going to let my lack of knowing stop me from persevering in something that feels right and of supreme importance to me. If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out, but I’ll have done my best with what I’ve been given.
      My best to you,

  3. Hi Jeanie… What a glorious story of your family and the legacy of your beautiful home in N.C.! It is a sacred spot for you and the ground is rich with memories of your loved ones! Jungs comment reminds me of the Buddhist’s “Don’t know” mind. Many times blessings have emerged from something that seemed wrong, bad or painful. I will have a hard time digesting that it would be “good” for the rights of women to be reversed after such progress. Let’s hope I don’t have to worry about that!

    1. Hi Beth,
      I’m glad you liked the story. As you know, I feel the same as you about women’s rights. History repeatedly shows us that in the big picture, human consciousness is evolving toward greater compassion and justice. 100 years ago women couldn’t even vote and there was terrible resistance to that idea for a very, very long time. Still, women vote now. So even if things don’t turn out as we hope in this time and place, the human ego is simply not powerful enough to resist archetypal forces forever. Jeanie

  4. Funny how on the day I get screwed again by my divorce of April 13, 2010, I should get the advice to RE-STOCK AND MOVE ON. The county property appraiser’s office says since there was a title change on the property I have lived in and owner for 25 years (husband & wife to individually) my taxes now are more than doubled (2008 FL admendment to 3% rule). So I’m off to the store where they sell booze and make a withdrawal. A bottle bought, not a robbery.
    I wonder if these little reminders of the worst time in my life will continue until I just somehow learn how to MOVE ON. Because it hasn’t happened yet.
    ps: nice story about the pond.

    1. Hi Doug,
      Well, it sounds as if you’ve got the RE-STOCK part down, so yes, perhaps MOVING ON will be the next step! I actually do believe these bottle necks (pun intended) when our lives seem to be stuck in uncomfortable places and we can’t get past them are symptoms of something within us that’s stuck: some idea, or assumption, or habitual way of responding that we need to see and let go of and change so we can move on. Good luck with this. I’m glad you liked the post. Jeanie

  5. Well done, Jeanie! I’m sure Susan B. Anthony will roll over in her grave if Republicans win this time, but I am equally sure that her spirit will energize a new generation of women to fight for their rights as persistently as she did. Since she died in 1906, she never saw the fruits of her labors in the form of women’s suffrage, but her death could not stop the Spirit of the Age from carrying her work through to fruition. This will be the most important election in a couple of generations, but there can be no doubt that it will cause both the Republican and Democratic parties to rethink their attitudes and their agendas, regardless of outcome. The status quo in our politics is untenable for the long term. Enantiodromia will have its way with us come what may!

    1. Thanks, Skip. It will, indeed! My Ego self would surely like to see true equality between the sexes in every sector of society very soon, but my Self self assures me it’s coming regardless of my Ego’s or anyone else’s Egos’s timetable.

  6. I really enjoyed your story. It was nice to read about a place I am familiar with. The nice part about that spot is that when you are there, it feels like you are in the middle of no where.

  7. Thank you, Don. It’s true. This place is a totally unexpected oasis. That’s exactly what I love about it too. Thanks for writing. Jeanie

    1. Dear Jeffrey,
      I’d be happy to if I could find it, but unfortunately, I can’t. When I copied it into my bog file a while back it still included the source, but once I wrote the post I eliminated my notes. Also unfortunately, I’m about 600 miles from my Complete Works, and won’t have access to them for 2 more weeks. Next time I use a quote, I’ll leave in the citation! Sorry. Jeanie

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