Thanks to the milder than normal January here in northern Idaho and western Montana, I decide to make a trip over Lookout Pass to visit my daughter, Ang, who lives off-grid and blogs as Modern Mountain Woman. I take it easy going over the pass as it is hard to tell melting snow runoff from black ice in the shady spots. Once down the other side, the highway is clear and I make good time.
It is tempting to stop and take photos of the Clark Fork River, but I am eager to get on up to the cabin. Once off the highway, road conditions deteriorate somewhat. The state highway out of the village is mostly clear, but a little icy in spots; the road up the mountain begins as snowpack and mud, but soon turns into a sheet of ice topped with a layer of water. Nice and easy does it right to the driveway, which is a steep upward turn. Ang and friends have not been able to get up to the cabin, even with chains, but I am not crazy about carrying all my stuff – clothes, food and books to share, and a cello – up the icy driveway, so I decide to see if I can make it up to the cabin. Well, you gotta love a Subaru with good tires!
The next few mornings are spent enjoying the first light of the day, sharing French press coffee, talking about books we are reading, the writing contests she is planning on entering, sacred geometry, and manifesting.
Over the next several days, numerous bonfires are built – no easy task with everything outdoors either still under snow or wet from the humidity and the rain that fell softly one night – and deadfall is burned to begin a clearing process to let light into the forest and to create an opening for terraced gardens, greenhouse, and chickens come summer.
One morning while Ang is working for the neighbor down the road, James and I have a fire making contest. Each of us had a fire pit and worked to see who could get a good fire going first. Although I had some flames at one point, James didn’t fare any better, and it was only when Ang returned that we had a really good bonfire.
Wood is cut and other chores are attended to. James and I play cello together, the first time doing a duet for him.
We visit with friends and family. Sometimes we drive out in my car and sometimes brave folks drive up to the property, walking through the woods to join us at a bonfire.
Most evenings we go down to the next door neighbor’s place, as he is not quite so off-grid and has internet, electricity, and running water. We take care of business involving the internet, take showers, and share a meal while we watch Stargate. Back at the cabin, peaceful evenings lead into quiet nights except for the puppy and the cat when they get restless.
The cabin is cozy; I sleep on the bench/bed that will one day be part of the rocket stove, which will be built before next fall. I can look out the window and see stars on the clear nights, little solar lights, and the embers of a recent bonfire. I am delighted to be surrounded by great tall trees in the daytime and complete darkness at night except for these small gentle sources of light .
Although I probably could not live totally off-grid by myself, I enjoy the opportunity to share a few days in the life of a modern mountain woman. Tomorrow I will head for home; the next day Clifford will return from his business trip to California, and soon we will be able to take the Pony (our pop-up tent trailer) on a camping trip, our own version of living off-grid.