First, we live in our own single-family home on acreage, with the nearest neighbor ¼ mile away. While I can see one roof, I never look out my window into someone else’s home. Land to the north and south of us is State Forest. To the east and west it’s neighbor’s trees and meadows.
We have no restrictions on how many or what kind of critters can reside here with us. I could have 14 dogs if I wanted. (No, we only have 2 dogs and one elderly horse at the moment.)
If we want to paint the house hot pink, we can. If we want to remodel the bathrooms, or build an addition, we can. And we don’t have to ask permission or buy a permit. I read about the restrictions and the outlandish permit fees that others live with and think “We are so fortunate.”
While many would shudder at our dirt roads, our lack of cell service and high-speed Internet, and the absence of any good restaurants or shopping venues within 40 miles, I do love where I live.
I’m grateful for what we don’t have.
Part of why I love it is the absence of a few other, far less desirable things. Things like gangs, drive-by shootings, and riots.
We also don’t have poisonous spiders and snakes, and no alligators will show up in our back yards. Yes, there are a few wild animals that can be dangerous, but they do their best to avoid humans. I’m grateful for their fear of us.
We have snow and ice, but most years it’s manageable. There’s generally not more than a foot or two on the ground at any one time because it snows, then melts before starting over. The ice can still be troublesome, so I’m grateful that I now work at home and can simply choose not to go out when the roads are bad.
Since we're surrounded by trees, we do worry about fire and did have one only a mile from here last summer. The firefighters jumped on it immediately and the fire was history within 2 hours – burning only about 2 acres. While fire did rage around us in 2017, the last major fire within 30 miles of here was in 1967. It’s nothing like California, where the fires seem to go on and on – and just keep coming year after year.
We don’t have flooding that causes major damage. We don’t have hurricanes or tornados.
Our temperatures seldom drop below zero or rise above 100.
We don’t have traffic congestion. We might have to wait a few minutes to get out onto the street when in town, but we never end up waiting in traffic for an hour or two.
At our house there’s almost no traffic. When our elderly neighbor passed away, his son inherited the property, which is a quarter mile past us. At first he came twice a week and now he and his wife show up to spend the day perhaps 2 or 3 times a month. They keep the gate locked, so in winter the snow plow turns around at our place. Once in a while someone following GPS comes in past the “Dead End” sign, thinking this is a through-road, but that doesn’t happen often.
Otherwise, the mail lady and people coming to see us are the only cars on our road.
All that is what we don’t have.
What we do have:
- Clean air and clean water. Our water comes from a mountain spring and there are no factories, mines, landfills, septic tanks, or other sources of contamination within many miles.
- Room to roam – for humans and our dogs.
- The occasional sight of wildlife in our meadows.
- Quiet, except for the sound of frogs singing and water rushing over the rocks in the creek - and an occasional coyote’s howl (my dogs do not consider coyotes howling a pleasant sound, however).
- The summer smell of new-mown hay.
- A view of meadows and mountains that changes with the seasons.
- A few good neighbors whose company we enjoy.
My roots here run deep.
My Great-Grandparents homesteaded a few miles from here back in the 1890’s, and I’m grateful to them.