Yellow bird farm / by Daniel Maissan

A desperate deed, became a beautiful story. Through WWOOFing, Daniel and I have beensecluded for nine days in the woods, near Murfreesboro, at Yellow Bird farm. A huge farm where artists are invited to show their skills and art throughout the whole property. David Wood is the initiator and host of this amazing place and he’s being accompanied by three cats, three dogs and a group of goats. He wants to create a new reality in an existing reality. Daniel and I added something to the farm by building a pagoda; a small tea-housetemple, surrounded by nature and meant for a relaxing tea ritual. A beautiful and tactile project. A project that could fully come alive because of trust. Unconditional trust from David, not expressed in words, but in the lack of words; in silence. An inspirational experience, because what does trust mean? And why is it important? 

That day in Nashville is engraved in my memory, signed by powerlessness, panic and quite anamount of stress. I can recall every minute and over time it takes my breath away. In the absence of a network (or somebody responding on Couchsurfing or Airbnb), we stayed in a filthy and rickety ‘hotel’ in the suburb of Nashville that was way too expensive. Not knowing Nashville is one of America’s most expensive cities when it comes down to accommodation. A huge disappointment which was the last straw that broke the camel’s back, according to both of us. An intense amount of stress filled the room and it almost felt like we were about to blow up the hotel. Daniel has been traveling for twenty years already, on his own, now I’m traveling with him as well and that requires more adjustment then he often likes. I’ve never been completely outside my comfort-zone. Now I am and that makes my basis shaky every now and again. More than I prefer at least. Both our cases are personal and we try to share them with each other. But when our stress increases, these personal processes start playing a role between us as well. A huge disappointment like the situation with the hotel and without the prospect of things getting any better soon, really burned us out. That evening, night and the next day, regardless of the stress, we looked for solutions. Eventually David turned up: our saving angel! He wanted to host us for more than a week. And Cat Colnot! She was willing to write a review for us early in the morning and with that we enteredparadise: Yellow Bird farm.

But what really happened here? 

The first piece of the puzzle (unconsciously) fell into place during an amusing conversation in the kitchen. 

While David prepared three Gin and Tonics - a daily ritual around 18:00 because his grandma did so and because Daniel and I fell in love while drinking Gin and Tonic - he enthusiastically explained about his wild ideas and plans for Yellow Bird. He referred briefly to his youth: “Whenever I would go for a new adventure when I was young (often risking my own life on the beach and rocks), my parents never asked me what I did. Of course I could share, but they didn’t force me to do so. They trusted me.”

His example made me realise how important trust is. The fact he didn’t have to explain, declare or defend himself, ensured he could develop in a natural way, without extra sauces and spices (worries, questions and advice) from his parents. His parents trusted him to be OK just the way he is. I think that’s one of the main reasons why David is a great, fun, slightly crazy philosopher and hedonist owning a farm like Yellow Bird.

Our crash on the quad. The second piece of the puzzle.

Yellow Bird farm is a place were people work and play together with nature, where time has a different role, where history and present day meet and where beautiful people - in real life or through their legacy in the form of art - inspire each other. To our great delight, David had an amazing project like that in mind for us. He wanted us to build a pagoda, hidden in the woods and surrounded by bird sounds. 

Every day, around 11:00 am, we would drive up to the pagoda with the quad and a trailer, filled with tons of wood and tools to work with. A daily adventure, because the road was far from straight. One time things almost went wrong. We drove up the hill, with all the wood for the floor on the trailer. The atmosphere was already a bit tense and while we were driving, our front wheels lifted of the ground. It was terrifying, so my reflex was to jump off. Not knowing Daniel really needed my weight to climb the hill safely. Daniel was furious and I was infuriated about his - to me - overreacting anger. 

The worst thing that could happen to me, happend. The third piece of the puzzle. 

After a long silence, we could finally grab the essence of all our discussions from the past days. Daniel was furious, because I - with my reflex to jump off - left Daniel and put myself into danger at the same time. I could easily have ended up underneath the wheels of the quad. A pure flight reaction, which I don’t feel familiair with and it made me realise I had lost trust in myself. 

The amount of stress, panic and impotence that arise with a lack of trust is hard to describe. It makes it impossible to wander and it feeds a downword spiral ending in a chokehold; a place where I’m a prisoner of my own fears. 

This probably also created the basis of our struggles in Nashville. Because of the lack of trust in myself, I actualised all my fears: my fear of not being good enough, my fear of taking up too much space, my fear of losing my autonomy and stability. This combined with Daniel’s sensitivity for other people’s feelings and his doubts on whether he should travel alone or together, kept us in that chokehold. An awful and oppressing feeling. 

David and Yellow Bird farm, helped us to free ourself from the stranglehold. The puzzle is complete. 

Eventually David saved us not only from Nashville. Without noticing, he managed our proces wonderfully, just by being present, without actually leading the proces. He fed us with his enthusiasm, corrected us with his knowledge. He didn’t ask questions, but rather he gave us space. He gave us his trust. 

This is David’s way of life and we’re not the only one who benefit from his ambience of trust. His connection with Randall is also very inspirational. Randall can’t read or write. He’s quiet and can be blunt sometimes. A set of traits you can interpret in many ways. When Randall was young, his mother read the bible to him and he responded by saying: “Nonsense. This book is filled with contradictions, so it can’t be all true.” David speaks about Randall in words like idiosyncratic, sharp, focussed and a little bit shy. He accepts Randall as he his. Wonderful to look at. And above all, David is very thankful that Randall keeps Yellow Bird in such a good shape. The place where so many paths come together. 

The pagoda as an example for trust. 

Looking back at this week, the pagoda symbolises our process perfectly in every way: we first cleared the area by removing all the grass, stones and weeds. After that we constructed the foundation, so we could build the floor. After we finished the floor, we could build the rest of the pagoda. We also created a fairytale path towards the teahouse with an entrance gate at the beginning of it. And next to the pagoda there is a secret space, hidden in stones, for the tea stove. We put our heart and soul in the pagoda, because David trusted us; from the very first minute. 

Now Wander the World With us is standing tall again - the way the pagoda stands – grounded ontrust. 


Thank you David.

Thank you Yellow Bird farm. 

A small extra, a 360º video on our stay at Yellow Bird Farm

Text: Maartje Grond
Photo/video: Daniel Maissan