Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Deal Breaker

Driving home this evening the snow was falling on an icy base. It took two attempts to make the corner to the road I live on. It brought back memories of when I first brought my wife-to-be to see my little piece of heaven.

I told her I wanted us to someday live out here in the woods.
-no problem, she said.

I'd like to build and live in a dome.
-no problem.

Dig my own well.
-no problem.

Heat with firewood.
-no problem.

In fact, she didn't have any problems with anything I proposed to do. She seemed like the woman of my dreams.

"Just one thing," she said.

I thought, Oh boy, this is the deal breaker.

"Just one thing, is this road maintained for year round travel?" she said.

At the tender age of 20, my ideal living location was something like my dad's hunting camp. Go eight and half miles down a dirt road. Take a left off a smaller, rougher dirt road for another quarter mile.

The cabin was sixteen by sixteen. Had a woodstove, gas stove, gas lights, a bunk bed, full sized bed, sink, table and chairs. It lacked electricity and plumbing. Water was from a brook down the hill. It had an outhouse out back. It came with its very own shooting range. To live at such a place full time I'd have made a few changes, but not a lot. Maybe I'd put in a solar panel or two, and maybe some book shelves.

The road was reliably passable by car about half the year. Some years it was plowed up to the side road. Other years it was plowed a few miles, but some years it wasn't plowed at all. In the dead of winter it was usually possible to get there by snowmobile. In the spring, during mud season, the road was completely closed to vehicle traffic. I did walk the whole way through mud and slush a few times.

For a single guy, the road conditions weren't a deal breaker.

The land I was showing my girl wasn't quite that isolated. Being on a small lake, it had a fairly busy summer population. In winter, only a few hardy souls braved the snow and cold.

Most importantly, the road, such as it was, was maintained for winter travel.

The girl became my wife and we eventually moved to our little spot in the woods.

She was right about the road. It's one thing for a single guy to hike close to nine miles to get home. It's another story for a married man with a family. Work, school, activities, and any social life at all require a bit more mobility. Life is full of compromises, but sometimes they aren't all bad. Sometimes a good compromise can save us from ourselves.

Tonight, the road is icy, but during the night, a plow and sand truck will come by. It'll be possible to head into town if I have to. Living on a plowed road makes my wife happy -such a small thing in the big scheme of things, yet such a big thing after all.

Good thing I didn't show her the camp first.



  1. You and I share the same living environment. I'm way the hell out in the backwoods of Appalachia. I moved there in 1986, when my wife and I were early 30's. Now, at 57, it's a tough row to hoe. Don't regret it, though.

  2. I'm thinking of relocating to New Mexico. Went to college out there in the 70's, really liked it. I've been in Appalachia a long time.

  3. The west is just too dry and dusty for me. Where I am in the North Country of NH is cold, but at least it's got plenty of water.

    New Mexico does have some good well watered land -shop carefully.