Alive and Well

Alive and Well

I fired the porch cook stove this morning as it was warm enough outside to do so. The weather has shifted and suddenly the coolness of the house feels nice rather than cold. Where I have been building a fire in the living room woodstove to heat my water and warm my tea, now it feels too hot. Come evening it is still welcome for my evening bath, but the days are getting warm. I envision now the outdoor kitchen I have dreamed of for years. The porch is ready for that with the greenhouse blocking the wind and the roof firmly shored. A few windows and a door and it will be a proper room but it is already inviting. My feral nature draws me outside and to sit indoors while I am here is almost sinful. I am inside enough at my gallery, why do so here? I have retreated to my camper in the evenings and now my mornings beg for the same. Having struggled for years to return here I am finally home to stay.

A friend ask me once why I went ‘camping’ when my lifestyle was the equivalent of the same. I go camp to retreat to the wilderness even if it surrounds me here as well. I sleep outside for the same reason for the walls of the house are like the constraints of society and keep me from my dearest love. I love the wilderness, the utter silence, the cool breeze, the high pitched howl of the coyote. I have yearned for the closeness of nature since my childhood and later spent years on the road, camped on the roadside or in the shelter of my camper. I chose to sleep outdoors even when offered shelter, and so often still do. I suppose I have simply never been tamed, and I am okay with that. Even as a young woman I lived in fear of the demands of convention and feared that it would consume me. I have never gotten over that and the fear still exists, though I have already run the course in so many ways. I quit my last full time job two years ago and I have no intention of seeking another one. I hope I never have to.

I am alive and well today. Free of the stress that I lived with for so many years I have grown calm and well in the process. I have shed those extra pound that my body thought were needed for some pending crisis that I created on my own. I have found stillness instead and I am fit from exercise and cutting wood, and the woodpile is growing each day. My art and creativity are sustaining me and I will soon publish another book. I have done all of this on a limited income, and still flourished. If I am grateful for the material things I amassed when I was employed I have need for little else. I am working for myself now and I don’t pay very well, but I am making ends meet also. The frugal lifestyle that has ensued befits me, and simplicity is the rule. I would rather burn wood that propane, and there is plenty to be had.

Growing up in upstate New York in the 1960s led me to grow close to the earth. We were all about getting back to the simple things of life that we saw slipping through our hands. The industrial age was in full swing and we were surrounded by the fruits of that effort. We had Avon, International Paper and Nabisco warehouse factories in shouting distance and Ford was turning out cars every day, take your pick. I lived in fear of having to choose and I fled as soon as I could. I flung myself as far west and close to nature as I could get, and never really came back. I worked but to sustain myself and my family, and suffered even that. My kids are grown now and but for some debt I am free. Free, to live and do as I wish, to live as simply and basically as I care to, and to embrace the wilderness in my heart. It may not look like much, but it is more than enough. It took me forty plus years to get here but I have finally come home to stay. I am alive and well and that is all that really matters. Life is what we make of it and surely it is good!

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