Sunday, January 13, 2008


As the ten year anniversary of us moving to our place in the North Woods gets closer I’ve been
reminiscing about our first summer living here. It was kind of like one of those endless summers like when you’re a kid. When you’re young it seems as if each summer is an eternity. At least that’s how it seemed for me as I was growing up.

We pulled in with our Jeep Cherokee and little utility trailer packed full. It was like being on vacation and never going back. One of the first things we did was to put up our green house. That’s when I learned that just about every place you dig you’ll find a rock. Anywhere from the size of a fist to the size of a bowling ball. To put up the hoops we were supposed to simply drive a pipe into the ground in which you would insert one end of the hoop. Not such an easy proposition when every time there is a rock waiting underneath some place. So I dug each hole with a post hole digger for every pipe. Nothing like digging holes in a soil to really find out what you’re dealing with.

We have a nice thick top soil here that is well drained. Kind of a sandy loam. Below that is pure sand that goes down forever it would seem. Well at least down to what everyone calls the “granite shelf‘. Around our home area the granite can be found at 20 feet. But, it varies depending on where you are, around here. Our neighbors down the road, less than a quarter mile away, find the rock at just 5 or 6 feet we are told. The reason we think it’s 20 feet down here, is because that’s how far we drove a well point until it wouldn’t go down anymore. We hit something very hard. Even bending the point we are pretty sure.

I really can’t quite put into words what it was like that first summer. I didn’t have a job, no boss to be accountable to. We didn’t set an alarm clock, just got up whenever our bodies said we’d had enough sleep. It was a little scary but totally amazing all at the same time. It was amazing to have that kind of freedom. But, the scary thing was I knew we couldn’t go on like that indefinitely. At some point I was going to have to earn a living. But, I’d try to put that off someplace in the back of my mind and just bask in the beauty of the moment. To just live in the hear and now and not worry about the future.

Anyone who knows our story knows, we did quite a bit that first year in developing our little homestead. We tried to do a lot with as little financial input as possible. I learned how to make animal pens with salvaged wood that we scrounged from a local snowmobile shop. The wood came from shipping crates which the snow machines were shipped in. The dealership just tossed them out next to the trash and they were free to anyone who wanted them. See, I’ve always been a bit of a garbage picker. Those crates were put together with those flat metal cleat type things that are used in the construction of prefab roof trusses. I’d pry them off and reuse them. Taking them off would bend them but, I could usually straiten them up well enough for building pens and gates.

Because we home schooled the kids we made good use of the libraries closest to us. We’d go back and forth between Eagle River and Rhinelander. The folks at the Rhinelander library were very friendly to home schooling much to our delight. They even gave extra time for the books checked out by the home schooled kids. We were thankful for the little things the Lord would provide for us. Like being able to keep the books longer but, also one time when we went to the library and they happened to be having a open house in honor of the new Director, in which a full buffet was offered to everyone. A free meal and fully prepared. What a nice surprise that was. We felt like it was a gift from God and helped us to have the confidence to know that we would be just fine in our new place. We never went hungry, not one time in those lean years.

Sometimes a person should just sit back and take stock of all the times the Lord has provided. To be grateful for the little things. For myself, I wonder how I could ever have doubts. To see God come through like he has in the past, how could I ever doubt in His grace for the future. Sometimes I remind myself of the children of Israel when they wondered in the wilderness. They had the cloud by day and the fire by night and still it didn’t take much for them to tremble and fear over some unforeseen calamity. Sometimes I’m no different than they were way back then.
As our ten year anniversary continues to get closer I’m sure I’m going to keep feeling nostalgic about when we came here. Seems hard to believe it’s been that long. Our kids are grown up adults now, for crying out loud. Well, our youngest is 16 but, the oldest two are adults. Our daughter Brianna was almost married last year but, the Lord had other plans and that fell through. So we bide our time with our kids, not taking for granted the special bond we share, knowing that one day they’ll all have spouses and things will change. After all nothing stays the same. There is a time for everything under the sun.

Until Next Time


Anonymous James Morris said...

Most interesting - and useful! Thanks for reminiscing in print, Russ!

12:04 PM  
Blogger RL said...

Hi James,
Thanks and your welcome. Hope things are well for you down there in Texas. It's supposed to be around 11 degrees below zero here tonight so I'll be thinking of you down there where I'm sure it will be a little warmer than here.

Actually, when I sometimes complain about the cold and snow, I'm just joking. I do like the winters here come what may.

However, I run into more and more snow birds (people who go south in winter) who spend their winters in Texas whereas Florida used to be the top spot. Also Arizona is getting more popular.

Take care and God bless.

11:02 AM  
Anonymous Barb said...

I absolutely love your blog, like having coffee with a friend! We have a small place and strive for food independence and your blog is just full of fun stuff. Thank you.

6:53 AM  
Blogger RL said...

Hello Barb,

Thanks for the kind words! I'm glad you've enjoyed it.


12:46 AM  

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