What it’s like to live in the woods

Woods in fog

I grew up in a ranch suburban 1960’s-style pink brick and white aluminum sided home one hour north of Detroit.  My brothers and I skipped around the edges of a cornfield to attend elementary school.  Farmers grew beans and sugar beets and the horizon stretched forever.  An orange sunset took forever and a day to curve across green fields and disappear.

Sunset behind my childhood home

Of course some restless spirits long for other lands to settle, don’t they?  Like modern-day pioneers they set their sights on faraway horizons, somewhere past the trail of the sun.  They leave their beloved ones far behind as they drive off in wagon trains which look like Dodge pickup trucks.  They’re headed for some place new, some place just beyond their heart’s familiarity.

Barry and I were some of those modern pioneers and we headed north, north, north to the woods.  We drove more than five hundred miles north of those corn fields and settled in the north woods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula back in the late 1970’s.  The land of trees and more trees and, yes, more trees.

Woods at the most beautiful time of year

We bought thirteen acres of wooded forest, cutting down poplar and maple to create a meandering driveway.  A gruff neighbor (who just died this summer at the age of 90) took pity on us newcomers and offered to bulldoze in a “real” driveway.

We built a small cedar-sided house in between trees.  A large sprawling spruce was our nearest neighbor.  I like to call it our “Little House in the Big Woods” after the Laura Wilder Ingalls books which I devoured in childhood.  Laura grew up in the big woods and later moved to the prairie, kind of the opposite of my path, but she was still inspiring because she evoked the pioneer spirit, the spirit of discovering something new.

Our Little House in the Big Woods in winter

We live twelve miles from the nearest town of 2,000.  Forty five minutes from the “big city” where you can buy organic produce and eat at Applebees.  We’re definitely rural, back to the earth.  A half mile away Lake Superior laps at the shores.

Yep, we live in the woods we dreamed about back in our 20’s.  We now own 23 acres along a gravel road.  Dust covers walkers as pickup trucks drive too fast.

Woods in winter

Sometimes, I bake in a cast iron pan.  We burn wood for heat like the settlers.  (OK, we have backup gas heat, too.  We’re modern folk.)  We have a spiral staircase and sometimes mice and snakes–don’t remind me!–find their way into our basement.  Once a hummingbird flew in through the open window and circled around our heads before returning to the woods.

We till an organic garden in the front yard growing acorn squash and rainbow-colored swiss chard and rattlesnake green beans.

Yes, dear reader, we live an idyllic life in the woods.

Now, let’s get real.

It’s not 100% idyllic.

Yep, challenges…

No matter where one lives in the world there are challenges.  You can’t escape and live happily ever after without a care in the world.

There are woods-dwellers and there are woods-dwellers. Some folks  live 20 miles from their nearest neighbor in rickety cabins without electricity.   (I know a handful of folks in our township who live off the grid, too.)

But we modern-day woods-dwellers usually have neighbors within shouting distance.

Barry cutting up some wood

We depend over-much on our cars and often contribute to global warming because we still drive our children to basketball practice seventeen miles away.  We sometimes hop in our 2003 silver Buicks and drive to town just to sip coffee in our wonderful local coffee shop.  (Up until a few years ago, we would have to drive 45 minutes to a coffee shop.  We’re in the modern era now.)

What is it like to live in the woods?

Because most woods-dwellers cannot see the horizon, it sometimes feels claustrophobic to be surrounded by hundreds of trees.  For other folks it feels protected and safe, like you’re in a cocoon of leaves and limbs and swaying branches.

Inner landscape of trees

Do you think it’s always quiet?  Not so.  Birds are very noisy singers, twittering and tweeting and fluttering and flying.  Distant chain saws hum.  Logging trucks fire their engines five miles away.  Dogs bark.  Deer snort.  Leaves crackle.  Boat motors roar.  Guns crack, especially during duck or bear or deer season.  Mosquitoes buzz louder than you can imagine in the middle of the night in June.

Last night a barred owl hooted in darkness “Who, who, who cooks for you?”

Our nearest neighbor

It’s not like noisy city ambulances and squealing cars and blasting rap 24/7–but it’s not dead quiet, either.

If you stayed cloistered in your Little House in the Big Woods and bought supplies for a month and ate frozen food from your garden you could probably avoid mingling with humanity for a long time.

Fortunately (or unfortunately) most of us woods-dwellers still have to earn a living.  We have to leave our trees and drive into the small town and find ways to deposit paychecks in the local bank.  We once thought it might be feasible to live off the land without a paycheck.  We quickly learned that wasn’t feasible.  Modern forest-dwellers must pay taxes, too.

Do we ever come face to face with bear or moose or cougar?

Rarely.  They’re out there, but they mostly keep to themselves.

Bear and cub

Are you ever scared to walk in the woods?

Only during hunting season.

Do you like living in the woods?

Yes.  We do.

Reader, what do you like best about where you live?  What don’t you like?  If you could live anywhere on this green and blue spinning planet where might it be?

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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107 Responses to What it’s like to live in the woods

  1. Karen says:

    Such a lovely post and photos…I can relate to it in so many ways. I just did a post about living with an apple orchard and the animals that I see.

  2. You described where I grew up without the bears, way the back side of nowhere, 3 miles from the nearest town of 300 people counting the cows.
    Where would I live if I could….lots of places: a cruise ship, however, I do not like to be on the water. I only like to look at it. Back on the farm, if I thought I could grow enough pumpkins to make a difference. In New York City to be a little ant in the multitude of ants scampering about doing things every minute of every day. In Montana on the largest ranch available. One can be happy if they wish to be wherever they are.

    • Oh, I forgot the Moon or Mars. I would gladly go to get off this spinning planet.
      What do I like best about where I live. It is where I live.

      • Kathy says:

        300 people is not very many. That is a small town, indeed. Kind of like a large family, almost, with all the family’s closeness and dysfunction and strengths. My daughter is an ant in NYC. I always want to live where ever I am. But have never pondered a cruise ship OR moon or Mars. Yep, new thought…

  3. jeffstroud says:

    Wonderful journey into your wooded life! Beautiful photos, I love the Sunset behind your childhood home, the snow in the trees.

    When I lived in up state NY it was much like this for us, of course I lived on or within a bowl of Mts, and the sky and trees where the only thing you could see for miles.

    Now living in suburbia, my childhood home, the woods is small but still teaming with life and sources of interest.

    I think I would rather travel and find those little corners in the world but while I am where I am I make the best of it all!

    • Kathy says:

      Jeff, a bowl of mountains sounds lovely. But I have heard that suburbia can be filled with as much wildlife and interest as the woods. I do like your philosophy.

  4. Love the visit…….

    I would live in Northern Minnesota, near a small town……..near a lake of course…..nice dock, campfires at night and Loons singing………

    • Kathy says:

      Wishing that you could live where your heart desires. Hoping that you find a way to move there and that the loons sing you to this special place of your dreams.

  5. Kerry Dwyer says:

    I am afraid of the wood in hunting season too. So many people get shot by mistake.

  6. Oh my gosh, Kathy, did you ever satisfy my eyes with the most delicious eye candy this morning. The photographs you lavishly sprinkled throughout this post are absolutely stunning!

    What do I like about where we live?
    There is a small, protected wetlands behind our house.

    What don’t you like?
    We live in a neighborhood (as opposed to seclusion).

    If we could live anywhere in the continental U.S. it would be the Pacific Northwest. If we could live anywhere on the globe, it would be the Highlands of Scotland.

  7. lisaspiral says:

    I swore I would never live in a rambler in the suburbs, and yet here I have been for 20 years. Raising a child with complicated medical needs, educational needs and a wheelchair for mobility made this a truly practical choice. You’re 17 miles from a town of 2,000, I’m 9 miles from the best children’s hospital in the state. For a suburban lifestyle I still have a touch of the woods. The neighborhood I’m in is tucked away, isolated not by distance but by being surrounded on 3 sides by freeway. The neighborhood was developed in the early 50’s so the trees are old and the yards are big. My lot is the size of a football field. We have deer, groundhogs, foxes, raccoons, owls, and hawks wandering through. This morning we have the wild turkeys for breakfast in the front lawn. Not a bad compromise.

    • Kathy says:

      It does sound like it’s the best choice for you right now, Lisa. You are lucky to be so near that children’s hospital. You are lucky to have old trees and a football-sized lot and all those animals. I would love to see foxes. And wild turkeys. I like the sound of where you live.

  8. Love the pictures of the doe and the mama bear with her cub – seeing wildlife is definitely a perk that comes with living in the woods. And everything blanketed in snow!

    Let’s see, what I like best about where I live is being so close to the ocean and two rivers, where I can go at any time to feel safe and sound and connected to our little blue and green planet. I don’t like that the condo association elected to cut down the two birch trees we were in love with, and then renovated the buildings so they now are grossly unpleasing to the eye. If I could live anywhere it would be in Norway, or perhaps Newfoundland… North – definitely north!

    • Kathy says:

      Barbara, I am not yet anticipating the snow outside our door. I would love to live close to an ocean, like you! I would also be sad about the two birch trees. Isn’t it fascinating–the differences between where we live and where we think we want to live?

  9. John Kuttenberg says:

    Last night I sat in the yard enjoying the breeze off the bay. I so loved the setting sun coming through the yellow, orange, red and green leaves of the maple trees. (Wishing I had the energy to walk the three blocks to the coffee shop for a sandwich after I finished hauling dirt from the path of the fence to come) While wishing in my heart that I was on a parcel like yours, my brain and tired body told me that I am too old and out of shape to ever make the switch. God put me in the right place for my abilities. 🙂

  10. I think on the whole you live with a lot more pros than cons–I do live surrounded, but it is by houses and sometimes it is hard to get a clear view of the big sky too. Like you I was brought up in the country (and it sounds like we were raised within about a hundred miles of each other). I like where I live now, but still yearn for country living.

  11. bonnie says:

    You definitely live in a special part of our world. The pics are beautiful. I guess I would pick right here in NS to live. We have the best of all worlds, woods, ocean, places to shop (Ugh), when I have to, peace sometimes. Yes, for now this is home.

    • Kathy says:

      Hi, Ms. Bonnie! I am glad that you love Nova Scotia and that you are happy where you live. Home is a number of things. Sounds like you have found a balance…

  12. Reggie says:

    You have just eloquently and beautifully answered the question that I’ve been wanting to ask you for years, Kathy!

    My eye was caught by your statement “Because most woods-dwellers cannot see the horizon, it sometimes feels claustrophobic to be surrounded by hundreds of trees.”

    I had never experienced that before, until we drove along the Tail of the Dragon in Tennessee/North Carolina – which must surely qualify as the most windey-windey road in the world! For much of the time, we were right in the middle of the forest, driving slowly, with no glimpse of the horizon or other vehicles, completely alone, alone, alone. At some stage, I felt myself wondering anxiously whether we would ever see the wide horizon again! Although I love the woods, I long for horizons too – those awe-inspiring 360° vibrant blue-sky horizons that you get in the Karoo and in the Namib. Mind you, they too can create an anxiousness.

    Perhaps both extremes (close forests and vast open spaces) remind us of how tiny we are in the big world?

    • Kathy says:

      Reggie, you must have missed my post–how many years back?–where I mourned the loss of a horizon. It’s funny; that has become less of an issue over the years. I have learned to love the view that presents itself more than longing for wide-open views. Strange, huh? Interesting that you said the vibrant blue-sky horizons can create an anxiousness. Almost of TOO much? That is fascinating! We are tiny indeed. Oh, yes, we are.

  13. Susan D. says:

    Love the photos and “being there” with you in your surroundings. I thought I saw this posted on your new Facebook page, but now it’s gone … sniffle.

    • Kathy says:

      It’s there, Susan, I swear it’s there! I looked one, two, three and even four times. It may have disappeared from your view, but it somehow returned. I hope it returned. 🙂

  14. You really brought home the feeling of being in the woods. Your comparison of the long path of the sun where you grew up with the “no horizon” in the big woods was spot on! My woods is small, new growth in comparison, and I have a pretty large clearing. Still, sometimes I just have to drive to the water to watch the sun set slowly.

    • Kathy says:

      Cindy, I would admire your large clearing. Or the closeness of your water where you can watch the sun set slowly. I have to drive five miles to watch that sun set slowly. And, gosh darn, I always find reasons not to.

  15. lexiesnana says:

    I just stopped by and I love your post.We also live in Michigan and I love it here.I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.Beautiful pictures.Oh to live in a woods.

  16. Heather says:

    You may not be quite so excited, but your winter photos are making me overly eager for snow!
    It’s not perfect where I live, but this is right where I choose to live – and we do have the option of living where we want! We have 10 acres, about 8 wooded. We are next door to a large pasture with horses, so we have lots of light and sky, but also the woods. And we’re only a few miles from my favorite Torch Lake. We absolutely love it here (but I also love it where you are and other places, and boy am I glad for all the diversity of places and people)!

    • Kathy says:

      Heather–not Holly–ha ha–you are FAR too excited for snow!! Your ten acres sound beautiful. Wish I could have seen it. I do know what Torch Lake looks like–and it’s–sigh—beautiful. The diversity of this planet is amazing. I love it.

  17. Val says:

    I’m so glad you wrote this, I was wondering about your sort of actual habitat (as opposed to the dream-habitat that you tend to photograph, where ideas and images sort of link in some ethereal manner) and how you came to it. I also wondered where you’d started off your life.

    Me, I don’t want to live anywhere than were I am, and to be able to say that is still a wonder to me as until five years ago, I lived in a place I mostly couldn’t bear.

    There’s very little about where I live that I don’t like, nothing that immediately springs to mind.

    • Kathy says:

      Val, I am glad you enjoyed reading this. Suddenly it seemed time to write a more physical actual-reality post. It feels like I’ve shared this at various times through the years of blogging, but the blogging audience changes so much as time passes that it’s necessary to share again sometimes. You are lucky that you like where you live now and that you are in a good place.

  18. Karma says:

    Cool post, Kathy! Thanks for sharing about life in the big woods. Your questions at the end of this post may just inspire a blog post… 🙂

  19. Munira says:

    This was such a wonderful blog post Kathy! Thank you for enlightening us about how it is to be living in the woods…..your life seems like a big, beautiful, amazing adventure to me, a woman who has lived in a sprawling mega city all her life 🙂
    I LOVED Little House on the Prairie! So much! Yes, would you believe folks in Pakistan got to see that show too?!
    Hmm, difficult these days to answer the question of whether I like living in Karachi or not.
    Would you believe I have fantasized about living in every city I have visited? These days I dream about living in Iceland, thanks to the blog of a world-travelling bloggy friend. Reykjavik seems idyllic!

    • Kathy says:

      Munira, I thought it was time to catch some of you newby readers up on my life! (Sometimes I think everyone has been reading forever and thus should know this already). I am thrilled that you LOVED the Little House on the Prairie, too! How small is our world, really? (You know, my friend, I also tend to fantasize about living everywhere and BEING everyone. Will have to pond Reykjavik now!)

  20. Carol says:

    A lovely, but realistic, picture you have painted. What do I like about living where I do? I like the quiet, the trees, the breezes, living far enough from my neighbors that I do not have to worry about covering my windows, having a yard large enough that walking it takes a while (and can almost count as a walk). I love the ocean too, and I would like to spend more time on the coast. It would be heaven to be able to spend a week on the coast each season.

    • Kathy says:

      I tried to kind of make this realistic, Carol. Don’t you LOVE not having to cover your windows? We don’t cover ours either. How lovely the ocean sounds! I would like to spend time there, too. Thank you, my friend.

  21. Brenda Hardie says:

    Ohh Kathy…I have mentioned so many times how I would love to live a life like you have and this post makes me want it even more. But I know the realities and I probably won’t ever get the chance. And even if I did, my knees wouldn’t allow for many of the physical challenges. Your pictures are wonderful…I love them! And I remember how you once wrote about “horizon envy” and ever since then, have been wondering if I would struggle with that. I do love to see the open sky, but at the same time I love feeling all protected by surrounding trees. Such a dilemma!
    As to where I live now…in a Habitat for Humanity house, on a corner lot across from the fairgrounds. The lot is a double size lot so gives a feeling of “space” within the town. The street running between the house and fairgrounds is a very busy street. There is a lot of semi truck traffic. (since the industrial area is near here too). But despite the traffic noise, (and the fact that it is not my house)-I like it here. The neighbors are wonderful and the area is safe. And I am near my family. After living in Baltimore for awhile, I do know with certainty that I do NOT want to live in the city. The ideal location for me would be in a little house/cabin on the edge of some woods….anywhere near my favorite lake–you know the one! 🙂 But in reality, I will be happy wherever I have a roof over my head and a bed to sleep on and food to eat. (It’s always been a fear of mine to be homeless—came close after the divorce!–don’t EVER want to live like that)
    Thank you for sharing not only the good things about living in the woods but the challenges too. I think one thing that would bother me about living in the woods would be the bugs…ewww so that’s why I said “on the edge of the woods”…not deep in the woods…lol. I remember reading one of my favorite books by Helen Hoover when she talks about befriending a family of mice in their little cabin on the Gunflint Trail–I was amazed and wondered if I could really do that. It sure gives me much to think about. ♥

    • Kathy says:

      OK, Brenda, I just typed a reply and the computer swallowed it. The very main point I want to say to you is: I hope you find your cabin at the edge of the woods and that hardly ANY bugs eat you in June. That’s my desire you you. lol! Glad you liked this post!

      • Brenda Hardie says:

        Oh oh….my computer (perhaps internet and not computer) has been goofy lately too. Thank you for your desire for me ♥ You are so giving and thoughtful ♥

  22. Ohhh…Kathy!!! You know I LOVE the snow pictures! ♥♥♥
    I started to read your post and made it to the snow pictures…and all I could do was stare 🙂

  23. Lori DiNardi says:

    Beautiful, Kathy. Funny, I just drafted a blog for tomorrow about where I grew up. I’m definitely more of a city dweller, with the sound of sirens, trains and planes. Where I’m staying at my mom’s, O’Hare airport’s planes hover not too far above. Anyway, I had a snaffoo while visiting. Sigh. I’ll post it tomorrow. Thank you for sharing about your lifestyle. You paint a pretty picture between both your photos and your words.

    • Kathy says:

      I hope to get to your blog and read about your snafoo soon. Gosh, I hope it wasn’t a big one! It felt good to share about our woods-living with the current group of blog readers. I keep forgetting that everyone hasn’t been reading since four years ago.

  24. Goegous, Kathy. I suppose I don’t like a lot about living in Kentucky, except for the fact that both mine and Sara’s families live here.

    • Kathy says:

      Gosh, Kath, at least you have the families to make your Kentucky life shine! I am trying to get over to your blog to read. It’s been kinda crazy here this week trying to get all organized for our trip to the wedding.

  25. Gay herron says:

    I can relate, we live in the UP woods also, small cabin, off the grid and we LOVE it, but yes there are challenges…..what an adventure it has been!

    • Kathy says:

      Gay, I am so wondering where you live! Is it near L’Anse? Or somewhere far away? Would love to know! But I am sure you do understand about the joys…and the challenges…and everything in between.

  26. Sid Dunnebacke says:

    There are days, Kathy, that I’d prefer a life in the woods to that in the city. I think trading in all the disagreeable humans for deer and bears and and and… would be a huge net gain. But, since I can’t prepare the dishes as well, I’d sure miss the ethnic restaurants all around us here.

    Surely you can do better than your snowstormy photo, in terms of sheer volume of white stuff, no?

    • Kathy says:

      Sid, if I had more time than 4.5 seconds to search my files, I am sure I could have come up with a more apropos photo in terms of depth! But I wanted to show something that described the gray dreariness of winter, rather than the wild depth of snow. Something with showed the endless feeling of it. It’s not the depth which is the challenge. It’s the endless grayness of it.

  27. sybil says:

    During the “back to the land” movement of the 70’s I lived on 25 acres in the Ottawa Valley. Now I’m older, I prefer to have neighbours around as long as I also have easy access to green places. Lived most of my life in Ontario and moved to Nova Scotia on an impulse 3 years ago. I love being near the ocean.

    Where on earth would I live ? I follow a Blog by someone who lives on the Orkney Islands north of Scotland. There is something about the “barren” landscape and ancient ruins that just tugs at my heart …Her blog is called “Life on a small island” … http://sianthom.blogspot.ca

    • Kathy says:

      Sybil, I went visiting that blog…it is lovely, indeed. Nova Scotia sounds like a wonderful place to live, it does. Just having access to green–and blue–places is a lovely plus for living on this planet. I used to dream of living near the ocean. Sometimes still do.

      • sybil says:

        I still feel a flutter in my heart when I see a cruise ship across the harbour (we had FOUR in harbour one day last week), or when I cross one of the bridges over the harbour.

  28. Stacy Lyn says:

    The woods are my dream, too, Kathy. I grew up in a city, a small, green city (New Orleans), but a city nevertheless. I devoured Laura’s books, too, (my inspiration to become a children’s writer myself) and wanted her life in the country. I have lived in a city all of my life, that dream of a Cajun cabin on a bayou always out of reach….until now – I think I may become a country girl really soon. The coffee cup says it will be so!! (Not to mention that we have a contract on a little cedar cabin on a bayou.) ❤


    • Kathy says:

      We’ve talked about Laura before haven’t we, Stacy Lyn? Yep, we’re both fans of Laura Wilder Ingalls. You WILL become a country girl soon. If the coffee cup says, who are we to argue? **grin**

  29. Dawn says:

    I’d like to live where I couldn’t hear a freeway. But you make some valid points. I will think about what I like about where I live…as I have been thinking too much about why I don’t want to live here….yes you make a good point.

  30. AnnieR says:

    I think you have the perfect set up-far enough away from town to feel like you’re almost alone in the woods but close enough to pop over for some socialization when the mood strikes. I envy you and am glad you’ve chosen to share your Little House adventures with us.

    • Kathy says:

      You are so right, Annie. We’re not that far from town. For example, we’re headed in soon for Indian food! But we’re far enough way to be alone when we chose. Glad you enjoy the modern version of the Little House in the (North) Woods.

  31. susan blake says:

    Hi Kathy,
    I’m soon to follow you – not all the way rural, but way more rural than suburban Chicagoland. I’ve had samplings (many summers) up in the Northwoods and I’ll take that any day over this claustrophobic, crowded and noisy place. It feels like a ghetto – I can hear/see my neighbors every word, cough, baby crying. The “convenience” of ALL the shopping and restaurants, my goodness I thought I could never leave this. Now I come to the sense that shopping is the national sport and it leaves me totally empty. Stuff. Who needs more stuff? I’m already looking forward to NEXT summer up North – and ultimately the big move in 2-3 more years permanently!
    Look out bears – I’m a-comin’!

    • Kathy says:

      SuZen, I’m SO excited about your move up north! Who needs to shop anyway? You’ll have to get used to wearing outdated clothing and only shopping from Goodwill when you’re totally inspired. LOL! Can you do it? Yes, you can. Or you’ll find cute little shops to visit. 🙂

  32. P.j. grath says:

    Like you, Kathy, I love where I live. No complaints on the place. Would have been nice to get there when I was younger, if I’d had money to go with youthful energy and been able to have a real, working farm, but I’m here now. That’s my mantra: I’m here now.

    • Kathy says:

      Yep, Pamela, youthful energy helps. We surely wouldn’t have been able to build this place without our youthful energy, although it may have helped sap Barry’s knees. I like your mantra. It’s the best mantra.

  33. sonali says:

    I so love the woods. I used to think only in the story books people lived in the woods like yours. They are so lively. You know, the white picture of “challenges” caught my eye. I liked it the most. What fun!
    To tell you, I love my home town Goa. Nothing like it. Peaceful, green, sunny, the most amazing place in the world. I enjoy the sun, sea and sand there. Its all very calm. I never knew one must meditate to gain inner peace. It just existed everywhere.

    While, I don’t quite like the city I currently live at. Polluted, Noisy, Grumpy! One needs to struggle mentally & physically.

    But, every place has something to teach us. Some lessons unique to its own.And therefore, we land in different places at different times, I think.

    But, your woods are heavenly! 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Sonali, I am glad to have written this so you can have a little more idea what it’s like to live in the woods. I just looked up Goa on the map of India and now am dreaming about going there. I wish that you find a place to live that gives you that inner peace–although I wonder if the Universe wants us to learn how to live with that inner peace in our hearts wherever we go. Hope you read yesterday’s post! I thought of you.

  34. Your home does sound idyllic and I feel a little jealous.

    The year before I was born, my parents bought property in the suburbs, where a square-block of wooded area stood behind the house on the other side of the railroad tracks. It was my teenage retreat, a place for my solitary wanderings and communion with nature. To the south of ‘The Woods’ was a swampy area, especially in the spring, where we could catch frogs and (sorry about this) even the occasional garter snake. Further south, about a 5 minute drive, were farms and stables where I learned to ride and care for horses. I have many happy memories of that house and those woods, etc, and whenever I dream of home, it’s always that house in that wonderful neighborhood. However, things change, unfortunately.

    Where the woods and swamp once stood, is now a huge ‘Superstore’ and apartment blocks. Where the railroad tracks were is now a huge building with florescent lights that don’t shut off at night, but relentlessly glare through the dining room, kitchen and bedroom windows. Its driveway and parking lot sit two feet about the edge of the back lane beyond a chain-link fence. The neighborhood is no longer a retreat, only a reminder that progress isn’t very pretty.

    I hope your home does not suffer the damage that progress makes. May it always be as pristine as you photos portray it to be. 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      It’s OK, withershins, I can handle the words “garter snake”. It’s only when they’re in the basement that I get a little squeamish! Sounds like it was a beautiful place to grow up, but so sad that the woods and swamp are gone. Barry grew up in a place like this. All his beloved woods were razed to make space for condominiums and houses and golf courses. We are pretty far from development like this, but it’s been sad to watch the woods be razed by loggers many times over the years. You fall in love with a piece of the forest and sometimes it’s logged heavily and never the same…

  35. emaclean says:

    Love. This girl from California is a teensy bit jealous!

    • Kathy says:

      Awww, Erin, I am glad to show you a bit of our woods. WE are going to California for a wedding very soon and I’m so excited! The grass is always greener…lol…

  36. Joanne says:

    What a wonderful treat it has been to hear more about your life in the little house in the big woods, your neighbours, and those magical sounds you describe Kathy! Thank you for sharing your life with us. Do you know what I thought about when I began to read about your treck to the woods from Detroit? Weren’t you lucky to have a man with the same sense of adventure as your own? Wasn’t he lucky to have you, who would take this journey into the wilderness with him?

    I do believe I hear my heart singing for you now. 😀

    • Kathy says:

      Joanne, I swear I wouldn’t have been trekking north if it wasn’t for Barry’s desire to move away from the suburbs where he grew up. I was so in love I’d have gone anywhere… Guess that’s what happened to some of the pioneer women, right? Once I arrived here in this north land it was more necessary to learn to adjust to the challenges–and then find the joy. **And I hear your heart singing!** Thank you.

  37. Susan Derozier says:

    Sweet Kathy – What a healing balm your post was this morning. I am just home from a very unexpected two days in the hospital (TIA) and it was just what I needed. The pictures and words were so soothing and literally transformed me from my stressful state. At the moment where I would love to live is anywhere near my loved ones. (but I would love if there were some woods and water and wildlife surrounding us.) Thank you again for your amazing ability to paint with words what your pictures show.

    • Kathy says:

      I just found your lovely comment hiding in my “spam” folder, Susan. Kind of like how the kids used to play hide-n-seek in the woods. I am so sorry about your unexpected hospitalization and hope everything is going well now. May you always be able to live near your loved ones. Thank you for appreciating these posts. BIG hugs!

  38. Kiah says:

    Yay woods!

  39. Oooooo, I grew up in a pink brick house too! I look forward to the day when I live closer to the woods!

    • Kathy says:

      It’s funny, Inger, I could have sworn they were red bricks but Barry said they were definitely 100% pink. Glad to hear our childhoods were similar in that way. May the day you dream about come quickly.

  40. Colleen says:

    Kathy, you know how I love your woods. And our pacific northwest forests and nowdays, our California forests. But oh, how my eyes love a good horizon. All that prairie DNA, I guess.

    I have loved living close to the ocean and having mountains in the background. We have had a version of this, in one way or another, for the last 40+ years.

    • Kathy says:

      My friend, Melinda, from California, had lotsa trouble being without the horizon here in the woods, Colleen. (What am I talking about? I had lotsa trouble being without a horizon for awhile!) Your oceans and mountains sound beautiful. I look forward to seeing them soon. Really soon.

  41. Robin says:

    Another beautiful post, Kathy. I hope to visit your woods someday. It looks like such a wonderful place.

    I love where I’m living now. We’re about 30-40 minutes (drive time) away from the major stores, but only 10 minutes or so if we desperately need something they might sell at a convenience store or gas station. It’s out in the country, but not too far out. It’s not quiet here, either. Owls, coyotes, unknown creatures rustling in the meadows and woods, the usual assortment of other birds and insects, all keep things pretty lively. Our first spring here I couldn’t sleep at night because the frogs made so much noise. lol! I didn’t always appreciate it here. Having been inspired to get outside every day by you, I’ve come to know and love this land. Thank you. 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Robin, I am so glad you enjoyed this. It is so good that you have learned to love the owls and coyotes and buzzing insects and moist bogs. (Did you know that I didn’t always appreciate it here, either? So we’re inspiring one another…all of us…to love “what is”.) Hugs & love!

  42. Dana says:

    I grew up in a Big City in one of Canada’s prairie provinces, but now I live in a Smaller City right on the ocean. There are different challenges here than there were in Alberta. For one thing, even though we are not blanketed in bitter frost and snow for half of every year, our new city is mostly terrified of “The Big One” and wonders when and where (not ‘if’) a gigantic earthquake will hit. Friends and family members have tried to convince us that the whole of Vancouver Island (where we live now) will be swallowed up by a spectacular tsunami, but that hasn’t encouraged us to move back to the mainland at all. We will cross that bridge if and when we get there…

    • Kathy says:

      Interesting, Dana, the different challenges and gifts of living in different places. I don’t even want to ponder the Big One, as my firstborn lives in San Diego, you know. Please may it never hit you guys! As for a tsunami, no, no… May you never ever have to cross that bridge.

  43. Kathy says:

    Let’s slow down time like it was in childhood where a half hour of morning play was just forever long. They just can’t seem to get enough done. Then they feel they sit in school “eight years” and finally it’s recess. Your quote: “An orange sunset took forever and a day to curve across green fields and disappear.” reminded me of that time. Then when we’re older we say, I’m going to take a couple of minutes and finish this and a day passes by. It’s terrific what children conceive of as time.

    Your other quote that was a ‘button’ for me: “No matter where one lives in the world there are challenges. You can’t escape and live happily ever after without a care in the world.” I love to help clean up our beaches on the days we have group clean-ups and love to recycle here on LA. My challenge has been to promote keeping our environment clean for future generations. The biggest challenge here is rush hour traffic on the freeways…get the concept it is like a parking lot some days. I travel and get to the other side of the hill (Hollywood) each day by leaving early. I love the big city which is really a bunch of small communities hooked together. But LOVE your blog reminding me to go camping, hiking and to the woods as a breather and get back that childhood timelessness.

    • Kathy says:

      Kathy, I love what you are trying to create and promote. I love that you are an advocate for future generations. That you care for your beaches which can be so strewn with litter. May we all, somehow, reconnect, with the timelessness of nature, of the earth. May we rise above our everyday concerns to care. I know YOU do. I love that you exist!

Thank you for reading. May you be blessed in your life...may you find joy in the simple things...

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