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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Living in the past

Growing up I was one of those kids who thought that maybe I was born into the wrong time. As a kid wandering the northern forests I could imagine walking the lands before civilization ruined everything.

Of course, even then life wasn't so simple. Most people did not roam the wilds a few hundred years ago. That was a good way to die an early death. First of all, the wilds were only semi-wild. There were plenty of natives who'd object to your presence in their lands. There were a lot of places that even the natives used sparsely, but that's because it was too hard to live there.

For example, before colonial times in Northern New Hampshire few natives spent the winter. They'd follow the rivers to the interior to smoke fish, harvest game and mine ryolite. (a flint substitute) When the weather turned cool they'd head downriver to the coast. The climate on the coast was milder and seafood was abundant.

When the colonists did arrive, most tried to make their living plying the back breaking trades of the time: farming, timber harvesting, and eventually mining. Very few roamed the wilderness. There were some trappers and explorers who wandered far afield, but it was a tough way to make a living. Those trappers had bills to pay, just like we do today.

Modern people may yearn for a simpler time when they could roam free. Many feel their lives are all laid out for them: School, work, (if you are lucky your job isn't too terrible) then maybe a short retirement and death. Guess what? Since the dawn of civilization life has pretty much been that way. There have always been roles that the average person was expected to fill. There were actually very few periods in time that favored the free individual.

Historically, the people who were truly free where those who control of their own lives. The same is true today. The world is different than it was hundreds of years ago. There are a heck of a lot more people, but it's still possible to get the wilderness experience. After all, most of those people are all jammed up into cities.



  1. I think we want simpler times because of we have hindsight knowledge and advances that would make it easier to do. Look at modern backpacking vs. frontiersmen pack or sailboat design 1700 vs. Today. MY grandmother said those that missed "The good old days" never lived in them.

    1. Just the advancement in materials makes a lot of this stuff easier. Your grandmother had a good point.

  2. I agree with the above as well. Empty land is empty for a reason - its either too hard to live there full time or its poisoned. Even with the U.S. population, there are quite a few empty spaces in the U.S. Fearsome summer heat or bone breaking winter cold - take your pick.

    I think a lot of us (myself included) take too much for granted. If we want something too much, gaining it is oftentimes a huge disappointment. Learn to appreciate the small GOOD things in Life. Contentment is its own reward.

    Thanks for the post Sixbears.

    1. I happen to like visiting remote places, but I'm trying to make a living there.

      You are welcome for the post.

  3. I remember the good old days when I was growing up. I would go back there in a heart beat. Yes, I suffered some bad things but the good things outnumbered the bad.

    1. I had a fortunate childhood in the woods too. Good memories.