Still bitterly cold here. I enjoy this whole business of going out to the woodpile and transporting in a few logs for our new stove. We huddle around the fire and watch the friendly flames. We feel the warmth. What's missing? Maybe a cup of hot chocolate. Or a dram of single malt during the evening.
Thinking about this last year, I'm happy with it. A new job (albeit much too far away from home). Three backpacking trips last year provided memories and enough adventure to wet my taste for more. The Addition makes progress--and someday might even be finished. The girls are doing well in school and seem happy with their frontier lifestyle and their friends who spend much of their time outside.
We've had a few special visitors this year. I like it when friends and family show up, spending a week or more with us. Ben Franklin was wrong about visitors, fish and three days (that both stink).
I spend time with the girls watching all those "pre-teen" and "teen" shows. Not much exposure to the natural world there. The only thing that happens outside in any of these shows are the segments of Hannah Montana (shot on an indoor set) at the beach. iCarly is urban and mostly hi tech. The Wizards of Waverly Place is urban. Not much exposure to nature on kid's television. Kids who spend time outside are becoming extinct; extirpated to the mall, Taco Bell (Taco Smell?) only to grow up, live in the burbs and maybe make a dash to Starbucks (if you are rich). Nature (for many American children) is having a deck with a smallish backyard that is fenced off from other neighbors much like a calf waiting to become veal.
So I'm thankful for the everyday contact with the wild within this "off the grid" home. Nothing excites me more than to see a bald eagle fly overhead or to run across a bit of bear scat thirty yards from our home. No monetary value can be assessed to such experiences, yet, in Mastercard terms, they are priceless.
And I have free time. Working part-time (and being able to support a family by doing this) is unusual and a blessing. It makes me feel like I'm "earning to live"--rather than-- "living to earn" (to borrow from Ed Abbey). That's a good idea. Guys like me need lots of leisure time to read a book or just enjoy a beverage, observing the goings on of the forest.
Frankly, I had a successful year. I got outside. I spent several weeks on the trail. I read many books. I wrote some. I got to spend time with loved ones. I learned much. We also spent much of the year being incredibly broke. That too, has its own blessings.
Tomorrow we shall plop out some goals for the next year. Join me?