It’s difficult for me to even type these words, but here it goes: This is the last week of life at 10,500 feet above sea level for me. [insert sobbing noises]
At least for a year.
That’s right. We are conducting a grand experiment that involves moving from our beautiful log cabin at the top of a mountain, along the Continental Divide, to a larger home at a much lower altitude.
In other words, we’re trading crazy for how regular people must live. And I’m not sure I can survive it.
Why the move? A lot of reasons, I guess. My husband has given me 10+ years of living in a raw, often brutal climate. That’s pretty darn good considering I gave him three months when we first moved up here. He was a suburban boy who’d never used a chainsaw back then, a guy who practically lived in movie theaters. Now, thanks mostly to Netflix and heavy drinking (kidding), he’s adapted quite well. But he’s tired of the drive, which can be about as dangerous as it gets in the winter, i.e., nine months out of the year. He’s tired of the snow. (When Denver gets a foot of snow, we get three.) He’s tired of the hardships of mountain living, which can range from temperatures that hit 50 below for days on end, 90 mile-an-hour winds and mountain lions on the prowl for snacks like our son and dogs, to days without power and weeks without water. And I’ll admit these things wear on me, too, some days.
So the answer: We’re testing the lower-altitude waters by renting a home in the foothills west of Denver. At a whopping 6,500 feet. That’s 4,000 feet and two ecosystems lower than where we live now.
At the new place, we’ll have things we’ve learned to live without for over a decade. (A decade!) Things like a garage. Trash pickup. Newspaper delivery. The opportunity to grow things in the spring and fall. The ability to take a walk in the winter without putting on professional snow gear. The capacity to not have a week’s worth of blizzard supplies in your car at all times just in case you careen off the side of a mountain on your morning commute. It’ll be a whole new world for us.
So what’s not to like about the move? Why am I so grumpy I had to warn my family to stay away from me while we packed boxes this past weekend?
Because this was my dream. When I moved to Colorado, I knew I wanted to experience true mountain living, with all of its ups and downs. I didn’t want comfort; I wanted adventure. I wanted an authentic log cabin. I wanted to heat with wood that I cut with my own hands. I wanted to write in total peace and quiet, and thrive under the watchful eye of a golden eagle and the supervision of tall pine trees and groves of golden aspens.
Besides, I like the challenges this life presents to me. I like that I can’t get complacent here; Nature keeps me on my toes. I like that the air up here feels unlike any other air I’ve ever breathed. I like that the blue sky here is so crisp and so exquisite that it can make you literally gasp from the pureness of it all. I like that on a clear night, the dark sky is like a field of a million diamonds above me, stars so close you think you could really touch them if you tried. I like that I can walk to our meadow and see wildlife every time, because bears, deer, moose, elk, coyotes and foxes are our closest (and best) neighbors. I like that I can trout-fish in our creek or mountain lakes with my son all summer long and never have the same experience twice. I like that I don’t have to drive to get to hiking trails; amazing ones are outside my door. I like that I can snow-shoe or cross-country ski on my lunch hour when I work from home in the winter. I like that the summer wildflowers can be so breathtakingly beautiful that there really are no words to describe them.
Mostly, I think, I like that not just anyone can make it up here. I like that it makes me different. And frankly, I like what it says about me: I’m strong. I’m resourceful. I’m fearless.
I’m basically bad-ass.
And yet. Did I mention there was a garage at the new place?
So, I have promised to give this a chance. I will embrace my 2.5 bathrooms and the fact that I can now recycle at the end of my driveway. And I’ll try really hard not to get progressively meaner when fall and winter settle in, and I’m living in complete and utter comfort, with not a carnivore predator or a four-foot blizzard in sight.
I’ll also try to remember this quote from Winston Churchill: “We shape our dwellings, and then our dwellings shape us.”
After all, the mountain has shaped me in so many ways. But there are things the new place can teach me, too.
At least this way I’ll be closer to Texas Roadhouse and a good liquor store.
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