A Regular Dose of Wilderness

Scientific studies aside, getting outdoors rejuvenates me. The more, the better. Well, within reason. I draw the line at sleeping in a tent unless absolutely necessary. Too many traumatic associations of tent-camping with toddlers keep that as a no-go for me.

Here’s a taste of my yesterday dose of wilderness:

Abandoned cabin at Pothole Ranch on BC’s Gang Ranch – second largest ranch in Canada

Abandoned root cellar at Pothole Ranch

The Chilcotin River, which runs through Farwell Canyon, is an off-shoot of the Fraser River

The bees were busy on this tree

“Mom, we need to go do something in the wilderness,” said my oldest daughter, who’s been working hard as a supervisor and safety coordinator for road construction all week.

“I know,” I said. “I’ve been so busy. But I am going to have to just make it happen.”

“Yes, that’s when we need it the most,” she said. “I read a sign that said we should get out in nature for at least 20 minutes a day. And on days when we’re really busy, we need to get out even more.”

It is true. I get so buried by the “gotta-do’s” in my life that I run out of Steen:

the cooking, the cleaning, the grocery restocking and the other errands in town;

the appointments for various family members;

the overseeing of my younger children and their learning and socializing;

the paperwork and the organization of it;

the bill management and everything finance-related;

the scheduled and also the unexpected;

the prioritizing of urgencies, and the abandoning of priority to the emergencies.

And that’s not even mentioning the book project I try to squeeze in every day. Those documents are always open on my computer, in front of which I sit for a few minutes at a time, several times a day. Some days I only add a few lines. Some days I edit what was already there. Some days I can’t squeeze in a moment or a word.

I often leave my phone on a charger where I cannot see or hear it. Almost every time I check it, there are messages. I have lost friends because of my inability to sit down and return calls. I try to at least fire a text message or email in reply where possible.

My home is surrounded by wilderness. All I need to do is step outside and I hear birds singing. Trees and other foliage grow wild everywhere I look in my yard and beyond it. And the air is fresh and clean.

I walk in nature every chance I get, even if it is a few minutes to see the sky. I go for longer walks when able, alone or with family members, hiking up hills or meandering along forest trails; and breaking up the walk with sprints to get in some higher intensity intervals for increased health benefits is a nice way to spice up a walk. Outright longer runs are satisfying, too.

And every so often, I get to expand the radius of my wilderness enjoyment. Yesterday’s trip to Farwell Canyon, BC, meant 2-1/2 hours of driving to reach that spot, but I was with three of my kids, listening to music in my son’s Jeep while he drove, laughing, talking, and enjoying the views. The journey was as much a part of the destination as was the first step outside onto silent ground.

Water running over rocks. Sandstone hoodoos. Blue skies bedecked with white clouds. Grass, trees, and many more greens than I can name.

I need it.

I love it.

I thank God for it.

I look forward to more of it, in abundance, never fading or decaying, in the place my Lord Jesus has prepared for me, which is far better than even the best taste of wilderness this world has shown me.
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)

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Horsing Around The ‘Hood

I run my hand down the length of this horse’s nose, from his bangs to his upper lip, and he breaks into a smile every time. So I took a picture.

He’s not my horse. I don’t have any horses of my own. He lives near me, though. He’s a good NEIGH-bour.

Empty Spaces

The Mall in a small town in British Columbia, Canada

“What shall we use
To fill the empty spaces
Where we used to talk?
How shall I fill
The final places?
How should I complete the wall?”

Oh! I know! How about social media! Yes, we can fill those empty spaces with Facebook. We won’t need to talk anymore. That will complete the wall I build around myself.

I can put writing on my wall, and post pictures of me and my friends and my family and all the fun things we seem to be doing all the time…

But it won’t really be me.

Or how about we don’t do any of that?

How about we find some empty spaces into which we can put ourselves?

How about we go out into the wilderness and fill the space between a handful of trees for a moment, touch their greens and browns, and drink in the sounds of their moving parts as their trunks shield us from the wind?

Or how about we walk in a field and make our silhouette become part of the landscape?

Or how about we walk down the paved sidewalks of town and look up at the sky, however much sky can be seen between the structures of what was once trees but now is wooden framing, what was once rock but is now part of the concrete, and what was once ore underfoot but is now steel? Weave through the structures of flesh and spirit that move past you. Touch them with your eyes and your smile.

(I couldn’t just put “Empty Spaces” on as a link. I needed to include “Young Lust”, for to leave it out would be an OCD faux pas.)

 

Alaskan Wilderness Living

There seems to be a growing interest in the idea of living in the wilderness.

“Off-grid”, as it’s been oft-dubbed, and, in particular, living off the grid in Alaska, has become fascinating. There are books to read about it, documentaries to watch, and movies to see, though when I started my journey to get there, I found very little to prepare me.

For most of the 1990s, I lived in the wilderness of Alaska, far from neighbours. The hand-written journals I kept are the basis for books I am writing to share the adventure.

Did you note my Canadian spelling of “neighbours”? Yes, I’m Canadian – born and raised in British Columbia, where I live again, yet somehow I got temporarily transplanted to a life outside of civilization.

British Columbia has just as much beauty and ruggedness as Alaska, yet its mention doesn’t elicit the questions and awe that come when one says they lived in Alaska. I wonder why that is.

It is a slow process getting the book finished, though. Being the mother of seven children who currently range in age from 10 to 26, with varying levels of needing my attention, I don’t get a lot of time to focus on bringing the memories to life in the form of written words. Blogging helps get the creative wording flowing, though, so you might see more of me around while I’ve got my computer on for the book project.

I didn’t have a great camera back then, so I hope my writing will describe things sufficiently.

Sorry for so much blogging

For those who get notifications when I put up a new blog post, I apologize for the recent abundance of them. I myself don’t know why I have been posting so much. At least in part I think it is because I am not feeling well. Fibromyalgia drags me down worse on some days, and then on other days I almost don’t know there’s anything amiss with my health.

It is easier to sit and write on my book project and in my blog than to do the myriad other things I need to do.

Annnnd seeing the above thoughts, I am convicted of my laziness, so I will leave the written word alone for now and go tackle the endlessly growing to-do list despite my pain and stiffness. Slow progress is better than no progress.

Education By Conversation

The following is from a plaque dedicated to the grandfather of my friend Martha. I never met her grandfather, Sid Rutherford, of Orono, Ontario, Canada, but reading about him, he sounds like someone I’d love to have known. Maybe others can relate.

Sidney Basil Rutherford
1916-1992

Born November 5, 1916 and possessed of an insatiable curiosity, Sid Rutherford was a passionate educator. His teaching career spanned 34 years, beginning in a one-room schoolhouse in Crooked Creek and finishing as Vice Principal of Clarke High School. A strong advocate that most education occurred outside of the classroom, he encouraged everyone to pursue lifelong learning as they followed their dreams, once writing that “the best education in the world is when two people sit on the log facing one another and converse alone.”

In pursuit of his own curious mind, Sid could often be found outdoors in the fields and on forest trails in this area hiking, cross country skiing, observing. He felt a strong civic duty and served on many boards, committees, and advocacy groups to protect Orono as a village within its unique landscape for future generations. It was important to him to stand up, be a voice, and make a difference.

After his death on Feb 15, 1992, the community, along with his family, created this Woods Walk to honour his memory. Emblematic of his love of nature, this trail embodies his wish that curious minds will explore the wondrous trails in and around his beloved Orono.

Commenting on the village slogan, “Orono, The Place With a Difference”, Sidney B. Rutherford wrote, “The citizens of Orono over the years have been feisty; sometimes almost contrary; but through it all, Orono has maintained its character and that makes the difference.”

Exhaustion

That feeling of wanting to tell people about the things that are troubling you because maybe someone who is reading it can relate and not feel so alone themselves, or maybe someone could offer hope, but holding back the details because the echo of “who cares?” rings on in a mocking tone…

Knowing that few to no people read my blog, I am relatively safe to go with my first feeling and do some venting.

My blog here on WordPress is not like the dreaded Facebook where any one of 560 people might suddenly decide to post a rude comment to make themselves feel superior and knock me down a little further.

Why do I have such volatile people on my friend list in the first place? Well, they don’t show that side at first. It’s not until they get to know me more that they see things about me that they dislike and they feel safe to blast me.

Wow, does that ever sound familiar. That was the case with the ex. He seemed so nice at first. And he sure saw a lot about me that he disliked. I did him a favour and removed my reprehensible self from his presence, but he took it as an offense and did all he could do to punish me for leaving.

Of course, that is far in the past, yet he and his new wife retain an interest in keeping tabs on me. They find out about things I write on my Facebook timeline when it is set so supposedly only “friends” can read it. I don’t write anything I wouldn’t want to be read by them, but it is strange that they get my news without being on my friend list.

Apparently, someone on my friend list is an informant.

I must be important!

Sometimes I don’t feel like being so visible, so I retreat to another Facebook account that contains a smaller number of friends, none affiliated with the ex and co.

They all might read this, too.

I don’t care.

On an unrelated note, today I drank too much coffee. I had three cups. Normally, I have one or zero cups. It is late in the evening. I want to sleep but am too caffeinated, so I am writing here.

And today was emotionally exhausting.

That is all I will say about that.

I wish some really nice person would read this and message me with an offer to come take me to a cabin in the wilderness for free, telling me the only catch is that I produce at least 200 pages of my book draft before they will return to bring me home.

The really nice person could give me a day to pack. I’d bring my laptop, my journals, a toothbrush, toothpaste, some clothes, and some food.

The really nice person would come pick me up, drive me to the cabin, and then drive back to my house to care for my kids while I am gone. They would be a patient and loving soul, able to coach my family on the importance of initiative in doing chores, explaining to them how much it has been killing me to be the manager and executor of far more than a mother should do, and that if they don’t lighten her load considerably, her next departure will be permanent, as her strength will have expired and death will claim her.

I am tired. Maybe my mind will slow down and I can sleep.

Tomorrow might be better. Or worse. Who knows?

(And yeah… Who cares?)