It dawned on me today that we are really doing some backcountry living. This year, we have been heating our house entirely with wood. We have one monstrous wood stove and a chimney running straight through the middle of the cabin. Last year we bought a few cords of wood, but this year (at least in regard to heating) we've been living off the land. My husband selectively thins out trees on our 40 acre property, cuts and splits them to size, and lets them dry for firewood. We drive into the woods with an old pickup truck and bring the wood back to our house, where it sits in a long winding stack between the trees.
I went outside today to bring some wood into the house. The sunlight against the snow was a visual assault. After a few minutes, though, it became a welcome change to stand alone baking in the sun, surrounded by slowly melting snow.
I don't know when the switch flipped -- when this comparatively rural lifestyle stopped seeming foreign and became instinctive. Driving on dirt roads has become commonplace. Threadbare barns and towering oceans of corn have lost their novelty (although continue to charm me). A backyard dotted with bear scat, mystical-looking white goats emerging from a neighbor's tree line, and the occasional escaped holstein in the middle of the road are no longer totally crazy scenes.
A suitcase crammed with at least a dozen pairs of high heels now collects dust in a corner upstairs. I'm a serious klutz, and it took at least a year to master walking across the brick sidewalks in Oberlin. I don't wear them anymore, even at the very rare formal event. I can't even imagine tolerating heels again; I think I would have to relearn how to walk in them. I've traded pumps for galoshes, dresses for flannel-lined jeans, and delicate sweaters for free Molson Canadian t-shirts that came in 12-packs of beer.