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Thread: Maybe I should have been a pioneer woman

  1. #1
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    Maybe I should have been a pioneer woman

    I'm 67 and just had the revelation that maybe I have been living a cloaked life--middle class, suburban, raising my kids in the land of lofty material expectations and upwardly-mobile goals (New Jersey), college educated, city-oriented.

    But do you know what I feel my greatest accomplishment is this year? Knowing how to build a great fire in the wood-burning stove. Being the architect of the flame, harvesting kindling in my yard and surrounding yards, feeling the wood for its lightness and choosing it for its dryness. Respecting the wood that gives us heat. Feeling the early morning chill and turning that into a warm glow.

    DH and I have determined that we are earning our winter-lake-street-cred and that we are probably going to sit through the winter here next year. Yeah, it's windy. Big deal. Yeah, it's 10 degrees colder than even Burlington, VT. Big deal. We have our "wee hoose" that's cozy and comfortable--even in the winter.

    Are there any "pioneer skills" you take particular pride or enjoyment in?
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
    www.silententry.wordpress.com

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    Senior Member razz's Avatar
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    LOL, Catherine. I have harvested wood, grown crops and preserved them, made fires, harvested maple syrup, sewn clothes, cut hair, knitted garments, shoveled lots of pig and cow manure, milked cows, killed and plucked a chicken, walked many miles, and all the things that pioneer women accomplished without some of the technology that I had. Glad that I had that experience and richness in my life but I love my cozy house with all its amenities right now.

    My pioneer skills are learning to do things as needed with what I have on hand, stretching a dollar and as my dear DH used to say, "The impossible just takes a little longer".
    Gandhi: Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony .

  3. #3
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by razz View Post
    LOL, Catherine. I have harvested wood, grown crops and preserved them, made fires, harvested maple syrup, sewn clothes, cut hair, knitted garments, shoveled lots of pig and cow manure, milked cows, killed and plucked a chicken, walked many miles, and all the things that pioneer women accomplished without some of the technology that I had. Glad that I had that experience and richness in my life but I love my cozy house with all its amenities right now.

    My pioneer skills are learning to do things as needed with what I have on hand, stretching a dollar and as my dear DH used to say, "The impossible just takes a little longer".
    Yes, we always gravitate toward what we lacked in life, razz! I totally get that you want and deserve a comfortable life with modern amenities--as you say, the lessons well learned are in how to be resourceful and frugal. When you've lived in New Jersey or New York as I have and take light pollution and traffic for granted, seeing stars and open road and open sky are gifts. I feel like I'm opening the gifts a little late in life. My second bedroom here in VT has a futon against a wall with a long ceiling-to-floor window--sometimes I sleep there, and I open the curtain, and I'm mesmerized by the night sky where the stars shine so brightly. It's the best cure for insomnia.

    Maybe that's why I love Elton John's song "Good-bye Yellow Brick Road"

    So goodbye yellow brick road
    Where the dogs of society howl
    You can't plant me in your penthouse
    I'm going back to my plough
    Back to the howling, old owl in the woods
    Hunting the horny-back toad
    Oh, I've finally decided my future lies
    Beyond the yellow brick road

    I just wish I had another 20 years....
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
    www.silententry.wordpress.com

  4. #4
    Senior Member razz's Avatar
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    I do understand your enjoyment of nature and the night sky as I miss that with the bright street lights when I walk my little dog in the evening. Having the farm of our own and growing up on a farm, one does see the world differently than an urban dweller.

    I have a neighbour who will celebrate 100 years in 2020. She drives to church on Sunday, down to the local senior centre every week day, never says 'no' to any invite to go somewhere or do something, plays a mean hand of cards of every sort and is my inspiration to settle for nothing less than 100 years of living life fully.
    Who says that you don't have 25-30 more years of a full active life? Try new experiences for the heck of doing so. Life is an adventure to be savoured through its peaks and valleys.
    Gandhi: Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony .

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    Senior Member Teacher Terry's Avatar
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    My folks owned a small summer resort so I have plenty of pioneer skills from that experience plus when young we lived in a small town in upstate New York and had a wood stove,etc. Now I am all into my creature comforts. I love living in town where we can walk places and not be so dependent on our cars. So does your lake house stay warm enough for winter? I had imagined that it was made to be a summer house so not insulated.

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    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Teacher Terry View Post
    My folks owned a small summer resort so I have plenty of pioneer skills from that experience plus when young we lived in a small town in upstate New York and had a wood stove,etc. Now I am all into my creature comforts. I love living in town where we can walk places and not be so dependent on our cars. So does your lake house stay warm enough for winter? I had imagined that it was made to be a summer house so not insulated.
    They sold it as a "year-round" place. The previous owners had insulated it, installed baseboard heating, and had renovated it for the purpose of living there year-round. The folks we bought it from had actually lived there year round for five years with a small baby a couple of those years! But our neighbors, even Canadians and rural Vermonters said, "You DON'T WANT TO BE HERE in the winter!!" So we believed them. It is very cold here. The lake effect is brutal, and we face north. Our previous owner (a permaculture-type guy) oriented the mudroom so that the door faces south an you can actually duck outside, grab a couple of firewood pieces, and run back in without feeling the wind.

    DH was very skeptical when I told him the house is actually pretty air-tight, but he has conceded that it is. There are very few drafts, as long as we seal off the pantry/mudroom (which we have, with that plastic stuff you tighten with a blow-dryer.) It's pretty amazing, actually, for this small "camp" built to be a summer residence, to achieve such energy efficiency.

    The rest of the neighborhood is summer-only, so we get the piece of solitude in the winter. There are two homes up the road that are here year-long, but that's it. It's actually quite beautiful in the winter.

    IMG_4657.jpg
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
    www.silententry.wordpress.com

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    Senior Member SiouzQ.'s Avatar
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    I hear ya on the fire front! Seeing that our new little wood stove is responsible for heating most this big drafty house, I am been learning by trial and error how to keep a good fire going. I have to admit, last night after the snowstorm we got it was pretty hard to keep this place warm, even in the room that has the wood stove; I actually started longing a little for the days when I could just turn up the thermostat. Seeing that it is our first winter in this new house, there are a LOT of things we need to do, like sealing up all the drafty windows that we didn't know about until the windstorm hit...

    But I agree, there is an element of satisfaction about learning to accept and survive a lifestyle decision we made. Yes, it is more work than an easy-peasy life (which I'll admit, I sometimes miss) in suburbia, but it is nice knowing that we are handling things as they crop up.

    I have to walk to and from work now because my car is on the fritz, but it is only a 5 minute walk, slogging through the snow and desert mud. I'll even have to carry a flashlight because it gets dark so early, and when I get home, the house will be freezing because no one has been here all day. So the first thing one does is build a fire and get that going before anything else. There one upside to having passed through menopause, is that my internal body core temperature seems to be set a bit higher, because I generally don't get nearly as cold as I used to!

  8. #8
    Senior Member Teacher Terry's Avatar
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    Catherine, it looks beautiful. Living on a lake in winter is cold but it sounds like you have everything covered to be warm.

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    I just wish I had another 20 years....
    So much wisdom seems to come later in life about what really feeds our souls. I too get a lot of satisfaction from being resourceful. Being in cold climes now, I do have much trepidation about slipping on ice and breaking bones.

  10. #10
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    What a beautiful view. So glad you are finding the house okay for the winter--it sounds so cozy.

    I'm sure you have more than 20 years to enjoy living in Vermont!

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