It’s been a while since I’ve written, frankly because it’s been a long time since I had a moment to collect my thoughts into a coherent theme that I felt justified in forcing others to read. And if the piling up of unread posts in my inbox from blogs I follow is a common experience for other blog readers, then I suspect few would have gotten around to reading my posts during the holidays anyways. So don’t even try to make me feel guilty.
Since the beginning of the holiday season, Ian and I have traveled through Pennsylvania, the middle of Ohio, West Michigan, and northern Kentucky; staying with both our families in a frantic rush to see all the people that we love and miss as efficiently as possible. This was my first time trip home since August, and most people we visited hadn’t seen us since our late summer wedding. It was exhilarating, indulgent, and entirely overwhelming, but exactly what we needed to split up the long, isolating winter we’ve been experiencing at the Knob house so far.
Lonesomeness has certainly been a theme, though noticed more by its absence over break than its presence with us on the mountain. The weekend before we departed, two dear friends from my hometown drove the ten hours that separated us to stay at our home for a few days. Thus, for the first time since we got married, Ian and I had peers to drink good beer with while playing nerdy board games, all in the glow of our cozy wood stove. I truly believe the sum of a good life is an accumulation of simple moments like these. Having them join us brought fresh air into lives, which had begun to stale almost without our notice.
And if those two were a gust of air, the friends and family waiting for us back home was a veritable windstorm. The holidays passed us by in a blur of parties and late night gathering, most of which we took timid Wendell to. After the intensity of the holidays had passed and the restart date of our jobs was looming closer, we knew it was time to make the drive back.
As we began again the slow drive towards the mountains, it seemed that every hour on the road turned quieter and more somber than the last. The loss of the friends and family we were leaving behind yet again anchored me into my head like a physical weight. It became necessary to remind myself throughout the drive that our rural isolation is and has always been entirely self inflicted.
Though the drive was unremarkable, our reentry seemed a little ominous. The weather was the coldest it has been in this region so far, and the sub freezing temperatures didn’t warm us to the idea of moving back into our massive, drafty house. We also received a nasty shock upon seeing that a portion of land along the road a quarter mile from our home is being clear cut by the timber company that owns it. In our few short months on this ridge line property I have traveled this stretch of road hundreds of times, and to see it so sacrilegiously denuded is deeply saddening. But what can be done? The company has every right to timber their own land. Also frustrating was seeing that our rescue dog Wendell, after doing amazing at every home we visited over break, was regressing back into his fearful behavior on our property and fiercely resisted coming into the house. We had deluded ourselves into thinking that his recent progress would translate into better behavior at home, but sadly we won’t be getting such an easy fix. These factors compounded to make coming back a weary, heavy experience.
However, things immediately improved on reentry. The saintlike Sister Kathy had started our woodstove a few hours before our arrival, so we were welcomed home by its cheering glow. Even more exciting was the discovery of a bagful of farm-fresh eggs in our refrigerator, evidently laid in the past weeks by our maturing hens. Even unpacking the car turned out to be fun as we rediscovered thoughtful gifts from loved ones we had received and promptly forgotten about in our rush to stow them away in our car. The presence of these homey touches did wonders to soften our pervasive sense of loneliness, and within no time we were back into our comforting routines of domesticity. The holiday blues seem more or less behind us, and I look forward to being refreshed in the quiet solitude that we cultivate here. We are living here for a reason, and that reason is that we more or less love it, even the lonely parts.
But take note, we are ALWAYS happy to have visitors. 🙂