Ever So Humble


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Question: Have you ever bought into someone else’s dream? I enjoy reading, contemplating what makes other people tick, and what causes the clock to stop. Not that life stops ticking or the alarm goes off, but time stands still and the day continues, passes by, and the dream becomes yesterday.

I have a dream. Not a speech, a dream. At least as far back as I remember reading Robinson Crusoe or Swiss Family Robinson, I’ve wanted to live my entire life in the wilderness. Call it the bush, call it the wilds, timbuctu or neverland – whatever it means to you, it’s remote to me. In high school, I told my beau I wanted to live in the mountains and have half a dozen kids. We married and had two. We struggled, had a good life, but we never made it to the wilderness and eventually the dream diverged and we each followed a separate path. That’s when I took a big step and went where I’d always wanted to go. I lived the dream, loved it, succeeded, and then circumstances changed. I ended up in a small island town and went to work, raised kids, and set the dream as a new goal, one to return to, reach for, plan on. The dream itself never changed – trees, water, seclusion, weather, woodsmoke, seasons.

The kids are are raised, educated, on their own. The person whose intent was to follow me to the ends of the earth decided it was too distant, unrealistic, and deferred my dream for his. It’s okay with me because I believe everyone should be happy, especially when that’s all there is left to be. By this stage in life, you’ve set your course, had your career, met your challenges, and it’s reasonable to prefer that flat horizon to another hill to climb. Only, I want that hill. I want what’s on the other side, the surprise that makes it all worth it – the sweat, the fear, fatigue and exhaustion, the knowledge that one foot in front of the other will get you over the top.

I bought my book on carpentry, a rather hefty tome I noticed in the scant library of a friend. His humble dwelling was simply crafted, and if he could do it so can I. So I went straight to the back wall of B&N and found what I was looking for, took it and several other picture books to a seat before the fire, and turned pages for an hour and a half. I saw plans, wooden floors, timberframe construction, romantically-lit windows at dusk, and nearly every page would do no shame to some beautiful living magazine. That wasn’t what I’m looking for. I want to know how deep to dig to put my cement block as a base for the piling of my foundation – or whatever it’s called. I want to know whether a 3-layer wall of blueboard-fiberglass insulation-blueboard sandwiched between my outer and inner walls is too much or not enough to keep heat efficiently at -50. If I choose not to electrify, what are my alternatives, what am I willing to live with? Before, I had few lightbulbs powered by a weak Pelton wheel that generated enough to keep my batteries charged and a few lights going twentyfour hours a day. Do I want more? Yeah, I do, because I work via the internet which means I need some sort of power-generation.

It doesn’t have to be perfect; it just needs to not fall down. It needs to keep me warm, and it needs to keep out marauders. It must be safe, it must stay warm. I’m not asking for much, right? Surely I can meet those needs with my own hands and ingenuity.

“The fire is dying now, my lamp is growing dim
The shades of night are lifting
The morning light steals across my window pane
Where webs of snow are drifting…”

(Song for a Winter’s Night by Gordon Lightfoot)

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4 thoughts on “Ever So Humble

  1. A couple years after my first wife died I shared my wilderness dream with wife #2, she and her daughter came to Alaska and my remote cabin but withing a month were headed back to civilization. Some dreams are meant for only one person and that’s a shame because when sharing the wonders of Alaska it magnifies them.

    • It isn’t for everyone, that’s for sure. There have been more than a few who swore it was for them, but never could actually make the step with both feet. It’s a good thing when they figure it out before it’s too late. I may be in it on my own in the end, but I’m up for that.

  2. I love the way you write gal. I hope you’ll have time to put it all into a book soon, if you haven’t already. I suppose writing will have to take a back seat to building though. Are you attempting this project by yourself or have you enlisted some help? I know you like to do things your way and have a most independent, pioneering spirit, but some things require an assist, lifting walls for instance. I wish I could offer some sound advice about the building project, but you probably know more than I do anyway. All I can say is stay safe. Good luck and God bless!

    • You keep suggesting that, Tom. I’m 13 chapters into a good one and am letting it cook a bit before adding more seasoning. The other project is one of essays, similar to this Tidelines blog. It’s my favorite, by far – perhaps because it lacks structure. And then the poetry which, secretly, privately, is my pet project.

Thanks for reading; feedback welcome.

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