A light freezing breeze touches my cheek. Intermittent snowflakes fall on my face tickling where they land. As I am walking back to the house from feeding my goats and sheep this morning in the fresh new snow, I started thinking. It was still snowing and the quiet was amazing and everything is covered again with a fresh white blanket of snow.
There is a two-lane highway running past our house which at times is very annoying. This morning I was watching the traffic and thinking about what people think when they see me walking from the barn in the snow. Do they see me? Do they wonder why I’m out in the snow with just my vest, sweatshirt, and jeans on? Or do they even notice me at all with their hurried life speeding up the highway to their next busy day?
I often wonder where these people are from and if they question themselves what this woman is doing. Are these traveling folks from nearby or far, far away in a big city where there are no animals? Do they think about what it must be like to live out here feeding and tending to animals we raise for food? Or do they drive by saying to themselves they’re glad they don’t live like that or work that hard? I am glad I have the life I have and do what I do because not everyone would do this and someone has to for us to eat.
What these busy travelers don’t understand is that unlike them, I don’t need to find somewhere to go to relax or feel better. This is my paradise. This is where everything comes together and I feel grateful about life. I watch these travelers go up the road on Friday and come back on Sunday. Week in and week out. What is their life like that they have to escape from it every weekend? What are they looking for?
Something got lost in our civilization when we stopped hunting for our food. When we stopped foraging and gathering. It gave us too much time to fill with meaningless and sometimes criminal activities.
So how did I get here to walk this path in the snow caring for my animals and not zipping up and down the road? It all started twenty-eight years ago. I left L.A. for the great Northwest. Yes, I was once one of those that zipped along on the freeway twice a day, every day to get to a brain-numbing job.
Out of the blue, I was offered a job and a place to live on a ranch when I got there. I sold my house, packed everything I could into my horse trailer and pickup, and off I went. Whatever didn’t fit stayed behind.
Fast forward a bit, the job didn’t materialize when I arrived and I had to find a place to live. I was able to stay there for several months and do odd jobs around the ranch to get my bearings. After a time I moved into the house down the road and found a job working as a waitress in a café. It didn’t matter what I did, I was here! It was beautiful and it was now my home.
I had brought my two horses with me and was invited to ride moving cows on several occasions. I later bought a little herd of Hereford cows of my own (16 head), which was wonderful. After a few years, I found having a herd of cows, no matter how large or small it is too much for one person to handle. I sold the herd.
That same year I found out about Wildland Firefighting. I took the classes, did the training, and signed up. It was such a rush, I never thought I could love a job so much. Every high school student should have to work in the woods for a semester. It teaches you so much about yourself and how much you can endure.
My family wasn’t exactly as excited about my new venture but I explained I was trained and would be very careful. There were times when it was exciting then times it was very horrifying. There were also those boring times. My firefighting career lasted five seasons.
Since being up here in the great Northwest my desires and ideas had changed so much. I wanted to do everything and anything that came my way. I even decided to go back to school and get my Social Work degree. It was very scary since I hadn’t stepped into a schoolroom since I was 17 and now I was 46.
My firefighting career and my school schedule overlapped. I could do the school during the winter and fight fire in the summer. Perfect schedule! School, thank goodness lasted longer than the firefighting did. They say age is just a number. But when it comes to things like fire fighting and climbing around in the woods, it’s more than a number.
Working in the woods taught me more about myself and the world around me than the actual school work. They were different learning situations but both taught me plenty.
I keep asking myself why I want to learn. What is it that keeps pushing me forward to see what is over the next hill? I haven’t figured it out yet but I love the journey. Now I am learning how to work with the world around me. Learning about my animals, the land, and what the earth provides. I’m always excited when I wake up and wait to see what today will teach me. Go out and find an adventure.