I’m very lucky, because I get the best of both worlds. We have a little place in LA where I get to spend time with my writing friends, and I imagine it’s pretty much the way most of you live, in town. But I also live in the Sierras. We have a small ranch, and that’s where home really is. How different it is.
There are a few things you have to get used to. There is no cable TV, and we can’t get regular TV either. From the day we moved in, we were satellite customers. To make it more complicated, our house is set into the side of the hill, down between tall oaks and pines. It took those boys quite a while to find a place to put the dish. Everything works well when the sun is shining. But let it snow and we lose our picture, until I reach up with my Swiffer and wipe it clean..
There is no internet available because we’re too far out of town to get DSL, and there is no cable. Now you can get it from your cell phone if it has built in wifi, but that’s only in the last year. We’ve had Hughes Net for a long time. It’s much better than dial-up, but it doesn’t work well when there’s snow on the satellite dish either. We do get good cell service. We’re really on a mountaintop, I guess that’s why.
By the way, when I say snow I’m not talking about a dusting. Most winters we can have snow anytime from October to May, and it runs up to three and a half feet. Usually when it’s that deep, not only do we lose TV and internet, we lose electricity and phones.
And the traditional country living joys? Yes, we have a well, with its own (expensive) pump and its own special breed of plumbing. We have a septic tank. So far it hasn’t had to be pumped out (ewww). We do have electricity (most of the time), and a very big propane tank. Those guys with the propane truck are really pretty good . I’ve seen them turn it around with inches to work in.
Our driveway is almost a quarter of a mile long, and it is very steep, so if the snow is deep or it’s icy enough, you can’t leave, or you can’t come home. We’re lucky we have a neighbor who plows it with his tractor. Every Christmas we drop off a gift card and a basket of cookies. We host a big family Christmas every year, and it’s always a concern that we’ll have to take people up and down the hill in the jeep.
It’s a half hour into town and back. There aren’t any big box stores, that’s another forty five minutes down the mountain, so we plan carefully before we go shopping. Trips to town include a run at the post office, gas station, grocery store, bank, and drugstore. That, of course, makes it an all morning trip instead of half an hour. Even more if we have to see the wonderful folks at DMV.
And friends? While I get them up to come up here occasionally, usually I have to go to them. I’m used to driving a long way to see friends, but most people aren’t. So, to keep up a relationship, I have to be willing to go the extra mile. Literally.
So why do we live here?
Those trees I mentioned are so restful. And we have a view across the mountains that’s to die for. When it does snow, it’s usually great big flakes you can catch on your tongue, just like you were ten again. It is so quiet much of the time. Our neighbors are good friends, but they’re over a block away. Close enough we can help each other, but not so close that we get on each other’s nerves. If you ever wanted a place to think things out, to contemplate, this is it. It doesn’t get much more peaceful. It’s a great place to write. Pop a log in the woodstove, start a pot of coffee, curl up on the couch, and get out your laptop. My Muse seems to find this place as irresistible as I do.
You really live in harmony with nature. You have to pay attention to wind and weather, but that’s a good thing. We haven’t looked for the ultimate simplification of life, living off the grid, but soulmate and I both think of this as a simplification we enjoy. We have each other, some of the time. It’s where we belong.
We’re between puppies and cats. It always takes me a while to get over losing one, but I will. We are up to about a dozen deer now. They’re so tame you can walk up close to them before they wander off. We’ve named a few of them, but they don’t come when I call them. They have expensive taste, they especially love snacks from my hybrid rose garden. We’ve seen a small mountain lion once. Lots of little things come around, all the squirrels, possum, and raccoons you’d ever want to see. And then there was the time we had the bear in the swimming pool.
But that’s another story…