Monday, October 31, 2011


Thistleglade has shed her lavish Summer garments to reveal her true self.  All her scars and contours formerly hidden in a riot of green leaves and colorful flowers are now openly displayed.  The trees stand in various degrees of nudity, buff leaves scattered on the ground and twisted limbs joined in an intricate highway for squirrels, birds, and our many legged cousins.  Here and there a particularly shy tree keeps her bright red or brilliant green clothing, putting off the inevitable disrobing for as long as possible.
While Thistleglade is truly magnificent in her Summer garb, and breathtaking in full Autumn regalia, there is something bewitching about her in this naked display.  It is only by seeing her as she really is, not as we would want her to be, that we can learn to live lightly here.  We must accept what she has to offer and not ask for more than she can give without harm.  It is a very difficult lesson, to accept others for who they are.  If we can learn it, it may just change the world.

Monday, October 24, 2011


The Autumn nights are quiet and still.  Gone is the roaring activity of Summer darkness, where the mating calls of frogs, crickets, and cicadas are accented by flashing displays of fireflies in a grand orchestra.  Autumn’s cool nights bring only an occasional frog trill and perhaps the chirp of a single, brave cricket.  These muted solos herald the slowing of the season, foretelling the deeper quiet of winter to come.
I have always struggled with the dark part of the year.  I chafe at the slow pace when little outward change takes place.  I long for action.  I want to see something happen even as I know that much is accomplished during this quiet, that the roots of next Summer’s accomplishments push secretly through the fabric of my life, preparing to spring to life and bear fruit.  Perhaps someday I will learn to flow gracefully with this part of Nature’s cycles.  I will learn to have faith in the rightness of it all.

Monday, October 17, 2011


Fall’s glory is growing dim.  Brilliant red and gold leaves fade to deep tan and flutter to the ground at the slightest breeze.  Acorns hit the ground in quick staccato, eagerly sought and eaten with relish by squirrels, deer, and the goats.  The hidden paths and mossy dells of Thistleglade are revealed day by day.  It is during the winter we will get to know her better, see her contours and find the injuries that need help healing.
This weekend was spent clearing a place for our cabin.  We chose the most unsightly spot in the clearing for our home.  Fallen trees had crushed their sisters, forcing them to grow in contorted tangles.  Thorny shrubs and rotting wood filled the spaces between.  It was much more work to clean this wounded area than simply building in the clearing would have been, but I could not bear to spoil a spot already beautiful.
It is time to make some choices.  What size of home do we need?  How much in resources should we consume, both in building and living?  Our time in the camper has helped us learn the difference between what we want and what we need.  Still, it is going to take energy and awareness to keep from falling into lifelong patterns of consumption and excess as we design and build our cabin.  Are we strong enough to stand by our convictions?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Another Step

Last week we took another big step toward self-sufficiency.  We installed a tiny wood stove in our trailer.  This simple act is symbolic of our journey in Thistleglade. The wood stove itself is uncomplicated, unlikely to break down, and can be used for heating, cooking, and warming water.  Thistleglade provides us plenty of fuel as she heals from the logger’s heavy hand.  Yet heating with wood also means the days of a simple flick of the switch are gone.
We are learning that the price of this security, of not having to depend on others to fix our equipment or provide us with the means to use it, is mindfulness.  Wood must be gathered and prepared for burning.  The stove must be carefully tended when it is being used.  We must plan ahead.  Once again we are forced into intimate acquaintance with the process in which our needs are met. 
So is all of this effort worth it?  Perhaps some would consider cutting wood, coaxing a flame into life, and nurturing the fire too much work.  I do not.  These tasks have been woven carefully into our days, smoothly meshing with others in the intricate and beautiful pattern that is our life.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Which Path?

We have reached a point in our journey where we must decide which path to take.  While living in our camper is certainly not the worst thing in the world, it is not very efficient.  We are at the mercy of the elements and it requires much energy to stay comfortable when the weather is extreme.  It is time to build a home.
One of our paths is familiar.  We built a home in Wyoming and even brought most of our tools with us.  We have the knowledge and experience to build and outfit a conventional stick framed home fairly quickly.  I’ve even gone so far as to design a floorplan for a small, efficient square cabin.  However, building this way requires fairly large, periodic outlays of cash.  With just one of us working, we just can’t seem to even get started.
Our other path is less familiar, but something I have studied and dreamed about for years.  It is to build a small cob home from materials Thistleglade can provide for us.  With 35 acres of rocks, sand, soil, and trees very little would need to be purchased.  Yet the price is still high as it takes a great deal of labor to build such a home.
Each of these paths draws me.  I have never been a terribly patient person and the idea that the house could be proof against the weather in a few weeks pulls me toward the stick frame home.  But it’s swiftness of construction is really the only thing that appeals to me.  And since it requires money we don’t have, it’s likely to take just as long as the cob home in the long run.  There is so much about the cob home that appeals to me: its gentleness to the land, its low energy requirements, and most of all its potential for artistic expression.
So we stand at the crossroads, knowing we must put our feet on one path or the other soon.  We can only know which one is right by seeking our hearst, rather than listening to our fear.

Monday, October 3, 2011


Autumn has always been my favorite season.  The tattered and worn trees of late Summer are reborn in a glorious display of yellow, red, and orange.  Grasses arch their seed laden heads in a regal display not to be rivaled by any florist.  Autumn flowers rise in airy whites and feathery yellows, stalwart in the fading sun and approaching frost.
Everything has its seasons.  I am in the late Summer of my life.  When I look in the mirror, I see the lines and scars my years of living have left.  A streak of sliver swims through my hair. Like the late summer trees, I am faded and frayed a bit around the edges.  I find this hard to accept.  I am proud of my years and would not give up any of the experiences that have brought me to this place in my life, but I am also surrounded by images of youth and beauty.  I want to grow old gracefully rather than desperately cling to youth, but I don’t know how.  The only images of age I can find are those who are artificially young or pathetically old.  So I must make my own path, unguided by those around me.  I hope I will have my own Autumn, reborn with grace and beauty I had never imagined. 
Silver streak and all.