Friday, February 27, 2009

We’re Heading for the Hills!

There’s snow in them-thar hills and we want to get at it. We’ll only be gone for two days, but it requires a lot of packing. Since it will be the boys and me, we’ll have the space ordinarily occupied by hubby to stash a few bags.

We’re extremely fortunate to have kindly friends who let us stay in their home when we need some snow time. In return we generally bring up a big hamper full of snacks + a couple of 12-packs of Cokes (all of which will be consumed in that two-day span by our four teenaged boys, one young woman, her boyfriend, adults and any friends who come over to play.

For play we do. Aside from the heaps of snow available for sledding and throwing, there are air soft guns to shoot, knives to throw, video games to play and lots of good old-fashioned horseplay. Two days is never enough time to spend with our friends, so we make every minute count. My favorite thing to do is to hike around the arboretum with Robin, my friend who knows everything there is to know. He’ll show me the hope of spring in those gray, dormant plants and we’ll plan to come back again in April to see everything in bloom.

Later I’ll visit my girlfriends. We like to hang out at the Starbucks in Blue Jay where sooner or later someone we know will stop by to shop and chat for awhile with us. The proximity of the in-store coffee shop to the fabulous German-style bakery is not an accident and we are very capable of consuming a full day’s worth of calories in just a couple of hours. Another girlfriend lives in a house that overlooks a sea of green trees unbroken by any roof line. It's spectacular to sit at her dining room table looking out.

We met these lovely people through the internet! A cyber-friend on a message board announced there was snow at her house and anyone who wanted to come up and sled was welcome. That was all we needed. We loaded the truck and hauled ourselves up for the day, where we met some of the best friends we’ll ever have. We’ve since had them down here for the beach, traveled and camped with them, comforted them during their mother’s illness and subsequent death, and chatted on-line via Facebook. Friends introduced us to friends and now we’re fortunate enough to have several families up in the mountains we can call our pals.

Community is what you make of it, and we have been fortunate to find lasting friends both IRL (in real life) and on-line. You definitely have to step outside your comfort zone once in awhile, but the end results can be magical. For us, that magic will manifest itself in a frosty forest ripe for boys to run around in this weekend. We’ll feed our souls on fellowship, nature, and Twinkies.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Part Time Pioneer

A "part time pioneer" isn't such an unusual thing to be. I think we all try to use our resources wisely, reduce our carbon footprints and conserve our money. I like the idea of pioneers of yore... homemade clothing, wide open spaces, soft colorful quilts made from worn clothing, and something savory simmering on the wood stove. It's a wonderful thought.

My reality is that I live in the middle of suburban sprawl. Our townhome is anonymous and beige with dozens more just like it everywhere I turn. My clothing comes from chain stores, my quilted bedding has Pottery Barn labels on it, and the savory stew is simmering in my electric Crock Pot.

I don't consider myself a pioneer wannabe, though. I vermicompost, grow what fruits and vegetables I can in our small space, bake my own bread, and homeschool my kids. Finding the balance between the "simple life" I yearn for and the reality I live in is a constant source of amusement to me. I hope you'll read along with me on my journey as a part time pioneer and find some things you can incorporate into your own life. And if you've got some tips for me, bring them on! I'm always ready to learn something new, especially if it directly benefits me!