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Our Side of the Mountain

by Going Slowly


Last night, as we pulled into our drive after a day of running errands, the snowpack was too slippery for us to make it in. Half-way up the steepest portion of our driveway, we lost traction and began drifting slowly backwards. Unable to control the truck, we slid ever-so-slowly, back towards the road, into a tree. No harm was done, but we were officially stuck.

Our Snowy Wooded Drive

Thankfully, Rick came over this morning to pull us free with his gigantic truck. He made quick work of the problem, and we were free in a matter of minutes. I guess we'll be parking at the base of our drive for the time being. I am so grateful we met Rick last fall!

Rick Rick Trying to Push our Truck Rick Looking for a Place to Attach his Chains Rick Putting Chains on our Truck Rick's Truck (Carroll Construction)

Thanks so much for your help, Rick!


The rest of our day is spent outside, working on the drive, clearing more downed wood from the sides of the road. We should be able to drive up more easily with a little more clearance on either side. As I wield my little chainsaw, relishing the feeling of breathing cold mountain air into my lungs, and challenging muscles that haven't been used in ages, I am struck with gratitude. I am so, so thankful that we're here, doing what we're doing.

Tara Chainsawing

I am so deeply in love with this place already, with its intense, dark purple mountains, its wind rolling in from the west, and its fleet of greyish blue clouds churning past overhead. I feel that I belong here; I feel that I must cherish and take care of this place. I'm sure this sense of rootedness will grow with each passing year, and hopefully each generation that sets foot on it. This is our side of the mountain, our very small place in this vast universe.

Tyler and Logs on our Snowy Land

As I work in our beautifully wintery landscape, I am reminded of the Dwarf song from The Hobbit, which has been stuck in my head ever since we got here the other day. The deep bass notes and haunting lyrics make the perfect soundtrack for this meditative afternoon on our snowy hilltop.


It feels so good to be working outside with my hands, on something so basic and necessary to our survival. I love having a truck full of tools that can handle the jobs we've set out to do, and working side by side with Tara, I couldn't feel more at peace. After clearing a bunch of already-fallen limbs, it's time to fell my first tree. The specimen is a dead, relatively short, topless pole.

I'm not really sure what I'm doing yet, so Tara and I talk through a plan, and then I get to work. I start by cutting a v-shaped chunk from the side where I want it to fall, and then I cut through from the back side to meet the notch. It's over quickly; the tree falls safely into the snow with a crashing thud that shakes the earth around us.

Tyler Chainsawing Tyler Felling a Tree

Heading over to inspect it, I notice a few woodpecker holes in the trunk. Though they aren't actually complete, it's sad to know that I've cut down some bird's possible home. It's a good reminder that every action we take has a direct effect on other creatures, and that we're stewards of this land.

After the sides of the drive have been cleared of logs and brush, and we're finished working for the day, I teach Tara how to sharpen her chainsaw. It's a fairly easy task, but I often wonder if I'm doing it correctly. So far our chainsaws are still cutting nicely, so I must be doing something right!

Tara Cleaning her Chainsaw Tara Sharpening her Chainsaw


Our work on the clearing the drive has finished for the day. My muscles are fatigued, but the ache feels good, and the rest of me is quietly satisfied. Removing our boots at the door, we head inside our camper. It's chilly, but it warms up quickly when we crank up the heat. While Tyler takes to the computer, programming ever more to pay for all the things we need to create our homestead, I turn on Loreena McKennett and settle myself in the diner, peeling apples for an apple crumble.

Tara Chopping Apples for Apple Crumble in our Camper Tyler Working in our Camper Bedroom

Life is good, here on our hilltop.