Still adjusting to paradise

The breeze in the forest is starting to cool at night, and this week a bright yellow school bus reminded me of the time of year.
I used to work as a school teacher, and I’m still programmed with that feeling that arrives at the end of summer.
September is when you rev up, but at the same time feel oddly settled about having a regular routine.
Life is different for me now, however. One year ago this week, my husband and I gave up much of our routine by selling our house in the city and moving to our “cabin.” And that’s also when we started to hear from countless people about how lucky we are that we “live the dream.”
However, as Henry David Thoreau once stated, “It is better to have your head in the clouds, and know where you are . . . than to breathe the clearer atmosphere below . . . and think that you are in paradise.
Living without a road is muscle-aching work, and it can be stressful, too, especially when you’re trying to make a living at the same time. Our “settling in year” has been extremely busy with building and digging projects, plus perfecting the workings of our compost toilet.
Also, we’ve worked hard to transport project supplies, firewood, furniture, guests, food, broken down boats, and so much more.
Then we’ve had a few unexpected challenges. For example, this summer I was bitten by some kind of wild animal (I think it was a weasel). This encounter was opposite of the serenity I usually draw from the outdoors.
And a week after that encounter, we experienced a power surge during a storm that fried our phone lines and some electrical wiring.
As an aside, it also sizzled part way up my left arm. I understand now why it’s a bad idea to use an electrical appliance during a lightning storm.
But the biggest adjustment–which is mostly positive–results from less material goods. I’ll admit it’s awkward dealing with “stuff” when you live non-road access, but we’re finally developing a “routine” that works.
And in the long run, this lifestyle will provide more leisure time and financial security.
We joke about how we traded our house for a steel container in a nearby gravel pit. The storage is on the way to town, and holds things like dressy clothes, golf bags, bikes, extra kitchen gear, gift wrap, and snowmobile supplies.
The biggest drawback so far is that the gown and high heels I recently wore to a wedding wafted with the perfume of snowmobile oil.
A highlight of the evening, however, was travelling home across the water at the end of the evening under a gloriously star-lit sky. Those stars make something like the scent of your clothes irrelevant.
So really, the challenges are worthwhile. I feel this rugged country has taught me that true paradise is achieved by learning patience, doing my best, and remembering my luck.
I’m physically and mentally so much more fit to meet the challenges than I was while living in the city.
Plus, when the daylight fades and the woods turn to pitch black, there is nothing more refreshing to the weary bones than a swim before bed, and the serenading flow of a cool lake breeze through an open window.
I like this anniversary, and welcome the new season. The challenges create opportunities and many perfect moments.
Maybe that’s what “living the dream” is really all about.

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