Monday, November 23, 2009

Living in the Woods

I moved to the woods of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan several years ago. Having been born and raised in Detroit and then living in a 'rural' community, I wasn't sure I was prepared for the isolated life I choose. I could never go back now. My mate, Peter, and I were both from Detroit, bothe the kids of cops. We didn't know each other back then, but it was one of the things that drew us together. We each understood the stress of that childhood - and the desire to get away from it. Each of us had moved to the quieter rural area where we met. But that quieter rural wasn't so rural anymore, and it wasn't quiet either.
So we moved to the UP. Yes, I know, it was extreme, but not for me - it was perfect. The neighbors were no longer thirty feet away, they were a mile or two or ten miles away. Perfect.
As "Baby Boomers", we had it all... three cars, six TV's, three VCR's, car phones (pre -cellular), two computers, a boat, two houses and vacations to the Caribbean twice a year. But something was lacking. A freedom that doesn't come being tied to a job or a business. So we decided to become... Homesteaders.
Now, I did not seek out free land and stake a claim. Personally, I think that's a myth. So many think that's what homesteading is all about. It isn't. It's about being independent. It's about being free.
I sold my house and purchased 160 acres of hard wood forest, Pete adding another 80 acres a few years later, for a total of 240 acres. Together we self-financed and built our dream home in the middle. Well, it was close to the middle. Sorta. Wantin to cut down as few trees as necessary, we utilized existing old logging trails to select a building site. We first saw the the property in October, 1993, when all the Maple trees were a vibrant golden yellow, and the ground cover was still green and lush. From where we parked, it was a five minute walk down one of the many logging trails, one that had been used by horse-drawn sleds. The music of running water drew me to the small creek. A steep slope created a tiny waterfall, spalshing over fallen logs and ancient boulders. I fell in love with the property on sight, and signed the papers on the trunk of the Realtor's car. Even though I was the one paying cash for the property, I put both names on the deed (there's a lesson here). We were partners and we were both paying out to build the house. Little did I know that exactly ten years later, to the date, I would be signing papers again, with the same Realtor, on the trunk of his car, to sell the property I had come to love so dearly.

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