Over seven months now. This is by far the longest time I’ve lived on grid, hooked up to roads, running water, power, cell phone service, and the rest of civilization in well over a decade. From my perspective, I’m currently living “down south”, while people here consider themselves as living in the north.
But alas, it’s not the north. Of course, people living in the High Arctic wouldn’t consider my home as being up north either. It’s all a matter of perspective, and this year of volunteering down south is allowing me to see my own life and those of other people from a different perspective – that of somebody who’s hooked up and plugged in.
It’s made me realize very strongly how happy I am to live my life out in the bush the way I do. It’s like an endless vacation compared to “normal” life. I guess I realize more strongly now the incredible amount of freedom I have at home; the freedom that comes with living simply (or like a bum, some might say). Having the incredible luxury of time.
I find I don’t necessarily miss home so much, but the north – my north – in general. The long, slow sunrises and sunsets, unlogged forests that stretch to the horizon, mountains beyond mountains with healthy wildlife, eccentric people, First Nations people, open and friendly people … because there aren’t many humans in the north and we enjoy meeting somebody new.
Our lake at home is still frozen, but my thoughts turn to kayaking almost every day now. Being out on the water, looking for caribou along the shore; that clear sky high above, the translucent water dripping of my paddle and the scenery unfolding hour by hour. The sense of being small, expendable, and the land so vast and of such stark beauty. I wonder how our porcupine is doing, if the bears are out and where the moose cows will choose to have their calves.
It will still be there for me when I unhook and unplug, when I come back. Perhaps that’s the greatest gift of all.