Fire, Water, and Puppy Dogs

The days are at their shortest now. Sliding into the Winter Solstice, we definitely notice how limited our time is under the sunlight.

The dawn stirs us from under the cocoon of covers in the morning with a soft bluish glow through the wedges of the toono, and encourages the start to the day. Seemingly just a short time later, the multicolored late afternoon skies and falling shadows indicate the pending darkness and a brief anxiousness to steel ourselves against the drop in temperature.

This led me to reflect on how we’ve adjusted off-the-grid and the rewards for the sacrifices we’ve made over the past two and a half years to live where we love.

For practical matters, like our work on computers, we are at the mercy of the sun and the photovoltaic power it provides. Regular office hours for us since moving off-grid are 10am-2pm. This gives us about two hours on either side of our shift at this time of year to take on projects and chores outside or make safe passage to town and back.

This can definitely put the squeeze on our ability to earn an income, make improvements on the homestead, and take care of necessary appointments and resupply. Some days, it’s one or the other. As business owners, we often have to decide between keeping our customers happy and making fire to prepare food for our bellies. It can bring a certain level of stress, to say the least.

When working for someone else, there comes a sense of security and predictability that is comfortable for some. For us, however, that arrangement left us feeling less in control of our own personal fulfillment. Sure, we had the means and access to partake in more luxurious pursuits of travel and entertainment, and garnered the attention of wider social circles, but it all felt so very contrived. And suffocating.

Being ‘on’ all the time, and at the whim of decisions made without our input, was taking a toll on our physical, financial, and emotional health. We found ourselves overextended in every way trying to ride the wave of modern convenience and protocol. Despite our efforts to simplify, the stress of being on-the-grid was exponentially higher and perceptibly unassailable than that we feel today.

Now, the conflicts come in a different form and we try our hand at finding resolution through a more discerning lens.

Instead of fighting traffic to make a meeting, we’re suffering mud to fetch water. Instead of paying interest on hip happy hours, we’re taking on the debt of expensive necessities such as batteries and heavy equipment. Instead of medicating high blood pressure and living with the pains of obesity, we challenge our bodies to lift, haul, climb, and endure in extreme conditions.

Life is hard.

No matter your choice to swim the conventional stream or brave the road less traveled, there will always be difficulty and risk. When you have everything, you have all that much more to lose. When you have little, you have only yourself to save.

Coming in to the end of another year and at the start of our third Sahalee winter, I awoke with happiness underneath hand-painted rainbows on this mid-December morning with these three thoughts: start a fire, warm some water, and feed the puppy. Three years ago, I would’ve woken up inside a concrete box on someone else’s schedule with a hangover and thoughts about how to justify my existence, having no clue about how quickly the sun would march overhead.

Ten days from now, the sun starts to share more of itself with us and opens up a larger window of opportunity to accomplish all that we choose manifest… What will be your choice?