"Oh I love your shop name!"
I hear that often. It always gives me a little glow of pleasure, and I do agree it's pretty memorable. So where did it come from? That's the next thing most people say. I thought I would make a blog post about it to answer this burning question once and for all.
The short answer is it is the name of one of my first houses. The long answer is below so read on if you're interested in finding out more.
At the end of the 1990s my boyfriend (now husband, more affectionately known as Mr. Misfit) and I bought a little 1930s cottage in Studio City, CA. It wasn't really your typical house for the area being a Cape Cod which is not really a West Coast thing, and it was set atop a little hill, more of a bump really, where all the other houses were on flat ground. Even the way we found it was atypical and pretty magical. We'd been working with a realtor but not having much luck when we happened to find an open house one afternoon (without said realtor). That house wasn't it, but we got to talking to the agent there and about a week later she called us, said she knew she wasn't our agent, but she'd heard about a house that she thought really might be everything we were looking for. It wasn't even officially on the market yet, but did we want to go see it? We did and a day later she drove us to the neighborhood.
Alas, we somehow got turned around and ended up on a different street. We were all confused and wondering where the house was when an enormous flock of crows (a symbolic animal for me) swooped down in front of her car forcing us to stop. We turned around, drove down a parallel street one over and found the same murder of crows alighted in the trees surrounding and on the roof of the house we were meant to see.
From the street the house, while cute, looked incredibly tiny. Mr. Misfit immediately said no way, but I had a funny feeling about this house and argued we should go in since we were already there. That house, once inside, opened up like Narnia's wardrobe into a whole magical world. A large, charming kitchen, sunken living room with one wall of bookshelves and another of glass and french doors that led into a huge fairytale backyard. complete with hammock wisteria and jasmine vines that practically ate the house. I audibly gasped and knew we were home. Eight weeks later we moved in.
Within weeks toadstools and mushrooms began sprouting up in little rings by the flower beds, the wisteria opened and bathed our entire bedroom is fragrance, and I could swear I heard little fairylike tinkles of laughter whenever a bloom would drop on my head. The house, I was convinced, and still am, was built upon a fairy mound and I was the extremely lucky human to have been given its stewardship.
Having lived several years in the UK and elsewhere in Europe I was familiar and enchanted with the idea of houses having names; Briarwood Cottage, Rose Hill Farm, Thornybrush all filled my head and I knew our darling cottage needed a name. Toadstool came immediately to mind but somehow Toadstool Cottage didn't seem just right. At the time I was a licensed wildlife rehabilitator for the state of CA, had begun building up my herd of amazing horses and had an entire collection of household animal companions already. Thus, Toadstool Farm was named and came to be.
When we left the original Toadstool Farm many years later the name came with me. I have never quite been able to recreate or find in another house the magic that the first cottage gave us, but I carry that spark with me always like a little ember wrapped in moss by keeping the name and now it's come to represent who I am, as a person just as much as my given name Jacq does. One day I am sure the name will find its way to the next Toadstool Farm and that magic will bloom again. We will hear that laughter when the wisteria drops its flowers as it eats our bedroom and the toadstools burst through the soil in little rings round my footpaths.
And I will know that we are home once more.
What is the most magical place you've ever lived? Did you have your own "Toadstool Farm" once? Or do you dream that you will someday? What does it look like? Let me know in the comments below, I'd love to hear about it. We can dream together!
Till next time my darling Misfits,