Reflecting at home after the holidays

On Sunday night, from our cozy place on the lake, I imagined the lights and fluttering movement of town.
Now that it’s the end of the holiday season, people will be busy with their back-to-work and school schedules.
But for us here, it is quite different. It is utterly hushed and subdued. Only the stars peeked overhead on Sunday night, and Monday morning I could only guess at the activity of animals by examining their tracks.
Such an evening, especially in January, is a perfect time to reflect. For me, this meant thinking about how moving back to this district has helped me understand about who I am and what I believe.
My pondering mood probably was due to this being the first downtime since hosting a series of holiday guests.
Our time with guests also helped me understand more about myself. Through their eyes, our place in the woods gains fresh meaning. They helped me get a new take on the lifestyle which I now consider habit.
Lucky for us, also, they were all very adaptable. They adjusted to things like hauling wood, using the outhouse, and getting transported by snowmachine.
Change is good was the general sentiment.
My in-laws, who live in the city, especially find time in the woods a novelty. They enjoyed observing wolves out our front window, eating moose burgers over an open fire, and looking at the pristine snow (in the city snow looks gray).
From their city perspective, life here is very different. Their ideas about security are unique to most rural folks, as well. This became clear to me when my mother-in-law expressed concern to see snowmobilers ride through our yard—people we potentially don’t know.
I empathize with her perspective. If you’re not used to living in a community of trust, it’s easy to feel insecure about strangers in your yard.
Her house in the city has been broken into twice. She has to cope with lots of fences—both physical and psychological–in the city. It’s easy to build up walls when you function in a place full of unknowns.
But here, chances are we know the snowmobilers (under their helmets), or that they are friends or relatives of people we know. In small communities, everyone is connected in some way, and for that reason you care about—and feel safe around—the people you see.
I know from my experience growing up in Emo, around here children share backyards without fences, and you acknowledge the people you meet on the street. Activity in a small town is not a robotic interaction like it is in the city.
Maybe it’s less private, but it’s friendly nonetheless.
So I feel blessed I get to live close to my home town again in this remote place. This is where I feel safest of all. Nature–such as the primitive sighting of wolves, the rev of a snowmachine, or the chatter of birds—are comforting because these things are expected.
The interactions and sights here surprise me in the most impossibly beautiful ways, but at the same time it is all predictable. Every day the sun rises. Every day the weather is different. Every day I notice something new.
And that is exactly what makes it home.

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