Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Country Life

My parents moved our family from the smoggy San Bernardino, California area in 1969 to a country setting in Sandpoint, Idaho when I was just entering my 8th grade year.  At first I thought my way of life would never be as happy as it had been while we lived in California.  However, after adjusting to life in the country my teen energies became more and more channeled towards creating and I started to spend a lot more time in the great outdoors.  

I was soon skiing on the mountain above our home, hiking in the woods, and I learned to water ski on the Lake.  I also started to paint on driftwood and rocks 

and conks (fungus found on trees) 

that I found on my hikes in the woods and along the shore line of the lake.  My sister also started painting and so my father decided that we needed an art studio to sell our creations in.  The little shop was called "The Pocket" and was built right next to our home.  

If you were to peak into my life back then you'd often find me walking in the woods looking for things to paint on or quietly sitting by a stream playing my guitar or recorder (a type of wooden flute).  Not much time was spent in front of the TV though my parents did have one in the house.  

The other night we sat and talked with our adult children.  We talked of the wood mill and what is being created with it, we talked of plans for building, growing a lavender farm and other farm related subjects.  It was so much fun to discuss these plans and ideas with the family.  There was no need for worldly entertainments when such cool ideas were being bantered about with enthusiasm.  It was a sheer delight! 

As I look back over my life and consider the reasons why I have always chosen a country setting for my family I must admit that it was because of the home in the country my parents chose for me during my teen years. 

I think about where we live now I see the creative energies coming to life in those around me (husband, grown children, grandchildren and of course me).  Our time and energies are spent in gardening, building, milling, framing, landscaping, and yes my mind is even turned towards painting on natural things found in the woods.  

More often then not the outdoors calls each of us to explore and spend time outside from early morning to when the stars shine brightly at night.  I commune with my God about everything while out walking in the woods.  This quote has come to my mind:  

"I urge our people to make it their lifework to seek for spirituality. Christ is at the door. This is why I say to our people, Do not consider it a privation when you are called to leave the cities and move out into the country places. Here there await rich blessings for those who will grasp them. By beholding the scenes of nature, the works of the Creator, by studying God’s handiwork, imperceptibly you will be changed into the same image."—Manuscript 85, 1908. – {CL 14.5}. 

I pray that this will be my experience and those who come to spend time here.

Do you feel like you want more for you and your family?  If you sense time is fleeting and you want more depth in your families life I highly recommend country living.  Don't just dream about it.  Take some steps to make this a reality for your sake and for your children's sake.  Yes, there can be challenges as there were challenges for my family when we moved to Idaho and there are challenges to us now in our new venture.  But oh how sweet the time spent working together to figure them out and O how sweet the rest when the lights turn off at night and the frogs croak and the wind gently blows and the stars twinkle goodnight!  It's a good life!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Trek to Remember

It was a bright, crisp winter morning. A fresh blanket of snow lay on the ground sugarcoating the trees in the forest. It was a superb day to launch out in search of the perfect Christmas tree. Just that summer we had spotted a grove of Alpine fir while huckleberry picking at the top of Border Mountain; our log home sat at the base of this majestic mountain. Alpine firs make the best Christmas trees; tall and slender with the branches turning up at the tips; giving off such a wonderful aroma that delight the senses.  Randy always looked for the tallest tree for our house; tall enough to reach the ceiling and these trees would serve such a purpose. That summer he had determined to return in the winter and cut down two Christmas trees for our family and grandma and grandpa too.

The forest service road that would have taken one to the Alpine forest was not passable in the winter because of heavy snows.  Randy donned his snow shoes and made ready for his climb up the mountain. At the age of 37 he was young and robust and nothing daunted him. He put on his fur cap and snapped it under his chin. Gloves on, rope coiled around his shoulder, and hand saw strapped on his back; he began his assent. I waved goodbye as he headed into the white frosted woods.

The fresh, crisp, mountain air filled his lungs as he made his way up the ravine. The sound of the mountain was silent and still. The bird sounds were hushed in our valley as they had taken flight for warmer climes. A deer bounded off as it sensed a human approaching his haunt. 

Randy would snow shoe up into the mountains 3500 feet in elevation; high above where our log home was nestled in the valley. But he would be traveling approximately 3 miles worth of switchbacks to reach the alpine grove. He had walked this ravine often; first to find the spring that would supply our home with water. He laid 3600 feet of poly pipe from the spring to our cabin nine years before. Many times he would have to trudge up that mountain to check the water lines and the spring. Several times coyotes had sniffed out our water line during a cold winter snap and had bitten through the pipes causing our water line to freeze. Randy knew the way very well. But today he would only stop to rest at the Spring and check to make sure it was running well before continuing his climb to the grove. The walk in the summer to the grove would only take an hour or so but with snow on the ground it would take much longer than that; maybe 3 hours. But he was up for the challenge that day.

Back and forth, back and forth he went as he ascended the mountain. Reaching the spring, he drank of its cool refreshing waters and continued on. He finally reached his prized grove and selected 2 Alpine Firs. Four feet of snow lay on the ground covering the base of the trees. He dug down in the snow to get at the trunk of the trees. Removing his hand saw from his back he started sawing the tree trunk. "Saw, saw, saw!"  His breath could be seen as he labored to cut the trunks. "Saw, saw, saw!"  "Crack!"  Finally the tree fell and then the other tree was tackled and fell. Wood dust covered the snow where the trees once stood. Randy fastened the freshly hued trees to his rope and wrapped the other end of the rope around his waist. He started his descent down the mountain.

The snow shoe trek up the mountain and the felling of  the 2 trees was invigorating. He was now eager to reach home with his prizes. As he trudged along he envisioned our tree in the log house all decorated with ornaments the children had made. The trees naturally slide down the hill ahead of him as he snowshoed along. He had decided to take the hogback down to the house rather than the ravine that he had taken up the mountain. Taking the hogback would shorten his trek down to his waiting family. But unbeknown to him he chose the wrong hogback that lead to a dangerous cliff instead of the gentle slope down to the house. He realized his mistake all too late. With the trees still fastened tightly to Randy's waist, one tree rapidly, and without warning, slid off the cliff and dangled over the edge of the mountain. It was a frightening moment to realize that he could at any moment plummet down the cliff along with his  trees. He dug his snow shoes into the snow. Sweat beaded on his brow as he pulled with all of his might to bring the tree back up the overhang. He pulled and pulled and finally won the battle with the run away tree. Once the tree was secured, exhausted, he rested and reflected on his near death experience. 

Since there was no possible way of continuing on the hogback he had accidentally taken, he had to descend down into the gorge which was a much harder hike for it was littered with fallen trees. To reach the gorge he had to hike over wind swept rocky crags and in this area the land lay bare of snow. He removed his snow shoes and strapped them to one of the trees. As he trudge along, unbeknown to him, one of his snow shoes fell off of the tree. Once he got back to the snowline he realized his misfortune and he  had to make the rest of his journey with one snow shoe. The sun was soon to set in the valley and he had come too far to backtrack in search of the lost snow shoe. Continuing on in his journey; One step up on his left snow shoe, one step down on his right snow boot in the snow; sometimes sinking three feet with his right boot. Up, down, up, down all the way down the mountain. 
I was getting a bit worried because Randy should have been home long ago. I put on my down jacket and Sorrel boots and went outside and hollered “Raaaaaaandy!”  So it was that I always felt a little like “Ma Kettle” when hollering for the kids and this day for Randy. My voice echoed up and down the valley and came back to me with a much quieter “Randy!” There was no reply from him. I waited another half hour and called again. “Raaaaaaandy!” Again my voice echoed up and down the valley. I waited with hushed silence for a hopeful reply. I was not long in waiting for I heard an echoed reply “Hellooooooo!”. Relief flooded over my soul to hear his voice again. 
Soon Randy came into view walking up the road hauling his 2 prized trees. All five children came dancing out of the log house shouting “daddy's home! daddy's home!” Randy relayed his harrowing experience as he hugged and kissed the kids. We all listened with rapt attention to his tale. But soon the snow shoe trek was forgotten, for the children had waited long enough to hang their ornaments on the tree. Playing on the CD player was the "Yuletide Sleigh Ride"  as the children watched their daddy position the tree in our home. It reached the second floor balcony. It was just as Randy had hoped, a perfect tree. Not a store bought tree but a real tree from the Idaho woods.  Ah! the aroma of a fresh cut tree still wafts in memories hall today. Soon the tree was decorated with ornamental treasures. The alpine fir is long gone now, but the memory of that memorable snow shoe trek will always remain etched in Randy's mind and in our imaginations.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Happy Planning

Its that time of year to contemplate gardening again.  Many of you may live in snow country and the thought of gardening is a bit off for you.  But you can watch this teaser film from Back to Eden and be inspired and then get things in order to start your garden when the snow melts.   For those of us who live in sunshine country we can begin now to prepare our beds for the planting day.  This film teaser will inspire you wherever you live.  Enjoy and happy planning! 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A New Melody

Looking through the mist of time,
Of blizzard, flood and fire.  
A song has come from each event;
A sweet melody to inspire.

At times we thought could take no more,
Twas then a ray permeated the cloud.
It pieced the darkest day
And illuminated the blackest hour.

Storms will come and storms will go.
And each will leave its scar.
But flowers bloom in fire blackened earth,
And above the gloomy clouds there is a brilliant star.

Heidi Prewitt
July 2, 1998

Monday, October 3, 2011

Garden Woes

The pre winter winds are beginning to blow and the skies are showing signs of an autumn rain.  Our garden is not producing as it once was.  It is with a sigh and great regret that we begin to till the ground we once grew our garden in.  Gone are the eggplant, cucumbers, zucchini, melons and potatoes.  We hold onto hope that our tomato plants will give us just a few more of their delicious fruits before we till them up as well.  But alas, I know even the tomatoes will have their end.  Now a winter garden is in store for this garden plot of ground.  Good bye summer days and hello autumn. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Earthquake Frequency

I thought Cecil Boswell's analysis of earthquake history is very telling and ought to be a wake up call  and an encouragement to those of us who believe in the second coming of Christ.   Below are Cecil Boswell's findings:

  • From 1 A.D. to 1800 there were approximately 28 major earthquakes recorded in history. This results in an average of one major earthquake approximately every 60 years.
  • From 1801-1900 there were approximately 31 earthquakes 7.0 or higher. This results in one major earthquake approximately every 3.2 years.
  • From 1901 to 2000 there were 222 major earthquakes 7.0 or higher. This results in an average of one major earthquake every 6 months.
  • From 2000 to 2003 there were approximately 59 earthquakes of 7.0 or higher. This results in approximately one major earthquake every 24 days.
This brings us to recent times. One of the most notable major earthquake was in Bam, Iran, on Dec. 26, 2003. Exactly one year later, Dec. 26, 2004, Sumatra, Indonesia, experienced another massive earthquake and a subsequent devastating tsunami. Between these two earthquakes, more than 330,000 lives were lost.
  • From 2004 to 2007, there were 56 major earthquakes 7.0 or higher. This results in an average of one major earthquake every 25 days.
  • In 2008, there were 12 major earthquakes 7.0 or higher. This results in an average of one major earthquake every 30 days.
  • In 2009, there were 17 major earthquakes 7.0 or higher. This results in an average of one major earthquake every 20 days.
  • In 2010, there were 22 major earthquakes 7.0 or higher. This results in an average of one major earthquake every 15 days. 

Information taken from World Net Daily:

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Puzzle Pieces

Chapter Three

Once we moved to the wilderness we did not look back longing for the modern lifestyle we had just come from. The challenges we faced energized us. Imagine putting a difficult puzzle together; it can be challenging at times and rewarding at other times. How often have you looked for a missing puzzle piece and right when you have almost given up, the missing piece is found. You are then rewarded by tapping the coveted piece into its place with a satisfying air. So it was with our new challenges in the wilderness. Many new puzzle pieces were scattered all over and would have to be found and put in place. The trouble was that we did not have a box with a picture on it to look at so as to know how our puzzle would look in the end. Instead our search for the missing pieces became highly intriguing and rewarding as we pieced our mystery puzzle together. There were some difficult lessons that we had to learn in the process too. Our  beginning weeks, months, and years in the wilderness were filled with many of those puzzling lessons. But in the end, the pieces would came together to make a most interesting scene.


Puzzle piece number one: Learning not to turn on the lights at night. Every time the light switch was flipped we were immediately reminded that our life, off the grid, had just begun, for no lights came on to reward our action. I had never stopped to analyze where the power in that little switch came from before. From my babyhood the switch always gave me what I wanted, when I wanted it; I never gave it a second thought. Now I began to realize the significance of that ready power. I must learn to live without it. Soon lighting the kerosene lamps at night became the nightly ritual. We learned how to trim the wicks to get the best light. Each week it became my job, and eventually our children's job, to clean the chimneys to the kerosene lamps. It didn't take long and that old habit of flipping the switch ceased and the soft glow of the kerosene lamps set the stage for rest in the evenings.

I was never one to love the roar of a motor. Learning to start the generator was almost as scary as a wildcat scream in the forest. When the starter button was pushed the generator seemed to burst into an angry sounding beast. At first it scared me spit-less. I had to overcome my fear of engines, and soon starting the generator was as easy as starting the car.

We had no refrigeration when we first moved to Border Mountain; at least not a refrigerator that we had been used to. An Igloo was our refrigerator while we lived in the trailer. In the summertime Randy brought ice home every few days to keep our “Igloofridge” cool. In the winter there was no need for ice since the colder weather and snow would keep things pretty cold and sometimes freeze them. Living without a refrigerator for a time was an inconvenience in that I had to go outside to get my refrigerated items; but it worked and we were no worse for the wear.  When we moved into the cabin we obtained a propane refrigerator.  Maybe I had to have an "Igloofridge" before I could appreciate a propane refrigerator. 

The outhouse was another piece to our scene. Outhouses, in my mind, were only found in places like state parks or the Ozark's, but never for my daily use. Here I was, neither in the Ozarks or a State park, and yet, for a time, the outhouse would be part of my daily routine. I chose to use the outhouse in the light of day and before nightfall. I was too afraid of the wilderness darkness at the time. One never knew what creatures could be lurking in the dark just awaiting to pounce on one sitting in a vulnerable position. Fortunately, Randy got busy and dug the septic lines soon after our move and we didn't have to use the outhouse for long. To relieve the readers fear, we never did have a wild beast come out of the woods and attack. 

 Outhouse with a view

Ah! and then there was the fresh mountain spring water. Never had I tasted such sweet water. We called it “Idaho tea”. The water was captured from a spring 4000 feet above our home. Randy and our friend, Jim Johnson, ran polypipe and covered it lightly with dirt all the way from the spring to our holding tank and then to our house. Never did we have to experience warm water from the tap. It was always cold and fresh tasting with no added chemicals. The water was so soft that we never had trouble with mineral stains or crusted faucets from hard mineral salts. Our guests were always delighted when drinking a glass of our spring water. Suffice it to say that we had the best tasting water in the whole state of Idaho and beyond.

Learning to live without a dyer had to be dealt with too.  In the summer, drying clothes was made easy by hanging the clothes outside to dry on the line. I learned to love the smell of clean clothes fresh off the line. But when winter came, and hanging the clothes outside on the line ceased, I had to find other creative ways to dry my clothes. Before we had moved to the wilderness I had noted how one of my friends dried her clothes in the winter. She hung up her clothes in her living room near the stove so as to dry them quicker. Hanging in her living room,,for all to see, were her husbands trousers, shirts, socks, her stockings and their underwear! When I had taken note of this my thoughts were “That looks so tacky and tasteless, I will NEVER hang our clothes in my living room!” Alas our trailer was only 60 feet long by 20 feet wide. There was not a spare room any place to hang my clothes. I now faced not only hanging our clothes in our living room but over our bed as well, for our bedroom was part of the living room. For a time, Randy's slacks, shirts, socks, my stockings and clothing and the children's clothing and yes, our underwear, dangled in our faces at night when we went to sleep.  Certainly living in the wilderness had its quirky way of humbling my proud heart. 

Becoming skilled at driving our Land Cruiser, "L.C.", was another puzzle to piece together. Our wonderful Nisan Maxima had to be sold. She did not like the three mile wild drive to our house. At first we had to leave her parked out on the highway when Randy drove to work. When he came home he would leave the Maxima out at the beginning of the road and drive the Land Cruiser home. Soon we realized “Maxi” would have to go. I was now forced to learn how to drive "L.C." since we had no other car at the time. Dave Reid had tried to encourage me to learn to drive her  before I moved to the wilderness. He kept saying “Heidi, You must learn to drive this vehicle before you move.” But I had been babied by the Maxima who could talk to me. She told me if my blinker was left on or my door was ajar. She also had automatic power steering. I didn't have to think twice about driving her. Now I had to face how to drive with a stick shift on the column and a clutch. I had put off learning to drive her far too long and now it was a necessity. A friendship must be started with "L.C." whether I liked it or not. Randy was my patient teacher. I am sure he got jerked around a lot as he sought to retrain my driving skills. 


 "L.C." had no air conditioning; at least not as I had known air conditioning. She had screened vents on either side of the front dashboards; when opened, they allowed the fresh air to circulate in the old Land Cruiser while driving. We soon discovered that when bumping down a dusty road that one must make sure all vents were closed or dust would be your “make up” for that day.  Soon "L.C." fit right into all the other puzzle pieces being assembled. She was a good work horse for us too. To withstand our rugged road we eventually added a four wheel drive pick up truck, Suburban, dump truck, farm tractor and John Deer Dozer with a  backhoe to our repertoire of vehicles. 

Farm Tractor

Suburban (A must during "break up" season)

Since we had always lived in close proximity to town I never had to experience a “town day” before. But now town was almost an hour away. I could not just go to the store to pick up a bottle of vanilla or drop in to visit a friend when I wanted. I had to learn to combine my travel to one day a week. I had to plan this excursion so as not to miss the places I needed to get to in that day.  My trips were combined  in one big “town day”. This piece of the puzzle was money saving  as well; I had to think about what I needed ahead of time, which cut down on frivolous trips to town and impulse buying. My “town day” might have looked like this: A stop at the Pink Lion to pick up some material and thread, to Bargain Giant for groceries,  the beauty shop for a hair cut, J.C. Penney's for clothing for the kids, and a treat would be to stop by the Army Surplus; a favorite with the children. Once every two or three months we would make the big trek to the big town of Spokane, Washington to get our much needed bulk supplies that we could not get in the small town of Bonners Ferry. But, whenever we returned home, no matter where we had been, on our minds were the thoughts "be it ever so humble there is no place like home" as we entered our wilderness domain.

"Wood getting" became a favorite pastime for the whole family.  Randy always scanned the woods for dead pine trees on his way to and from work.   It seemed to be his favorite thing to do, for he was continually looking for those snags.  Sunday's we would don our "wood getting" work clothes and kids in the back of the truck we headed out  to the place where the dead tree had been spotted. "Buzz, buzz buzz!” the chain saw would make its noisy harsh voice heard in the forest.  With the precision of a surgeon, Randy made the necessary cuts into the trunk of the tree. The most fun, and the grand finale was when all would holler “TIMBER!” and with a loud crack! down she'd come with a crash that shook the earth. The branches were then cut off and the fallen tree “bucked up” (cut into logs). We'd all help by throwing the logs into the back of the truck.  All the kids would pile back into the truck, but this time on top of all the wood.  They would have a grand time singing, laughing  and talking while we traveled back to the house.  Home again, the wood would be dumped and stacked near the house for winter use and all would be rewarded with a yummy lunch of "Hay Stacks".  "Wood getting" was a “must” for our summer/fall days. A wood stove was the norm for heating our house in the wintertime and a good supply of wood was necessary to keep the house and hearts warm in the cold, cold winter months. 

 The cozy cabin

The quietness proved to be an easy thing to get used too. We had been accustomed to retiring at night to the sound of some form of man-made sound such as the humming of the refrigerator, cars driving by, the electric clock ticking on the wall, or the telephone ring. Our first night at Border Mountain we heard nothing but nature sounds. Eventually we got so used to the quiet sounds of night time in the woods that when we traveled away from our wilderness home the unnatural man-made sounds kept us awake at nights. 

Shortly after we had moved to the wilderness, my mother and father-in-law (Mary and Ken Young) came to visit. They were both sitting out on the edge of our field enjoying the sites and sounds of nature when Mary suddenly blurted out “I hear a car”. Ken replied “So!” She said “Ken, you don't understand, I hear  just ONE car”. They lived in Vallejo, California and  were so used to hearing a constant stream of traffic that they could not distinguish one car from another. But at Border Mountain, one car bumping up the road to our house could be heard a mile away. Certainly the silence of the worldly incessant noise was a blessing to our ears, hearts and minds and to all who came to visit us.

Communication devices were greatly lacking at Border Mountain. Radio barely reached our valley and television was not even remotely possible; which truly was a blessing. But to bring in phone lines would have cost approximately $6500; a big chunk of money in that day. Instead, over a year we had no communication via the phone lines. The lack of ready communication was a difficult one for me to grapple with. The telephone was my way of staying connected with friends and family. Soon letter writing and calling on Randy's office phone during  "town day" became the norm for staying in touch with the outside world. Living without these communication devices helped us to focus more on our family and on our personal relationship with our Lord. Reading became the entertainment in the morning and evenings for our entire family. Eventually we would add a radio phone and then a converted mobile phone patched into our neighbors phone line three miles away. But for a time I learned to live without.

Reading became a favorite evening pastime.

"Nature Vision" was our entertainment for us; the "Wild Kingdom" of Border Mountain. I still remember vividly our first Sabbath. We heard a pounding, snorting sound coming from outside the trailer. We looked out of our windows to witness a moose thundering down the field toward two deer that were quietly grazing at the farthest end of the field. We were so frightened for those deer and were certain the moose would hit them with his powerful antlers and tear them to pieces. We could barely watch the scene unfolding before our eyes knowing the inevitable outcome. I wasn't sure this "Nature Vision" was child friendly as we stood with rapt attention. 

The deer did not move a muscle as the moose continued on his murderous rampage. Were they terrified too? They seemed to be ready for an untimely death. But the moose stopped abruptly about ten feet away from the deer. He lowered his head and pranced around trying to scare the poor creatures. They barely looked up to note his presence; they just kept on grazing. He ranted and raved a bit and then thundered back up the field to where he came from, snorting and swaying his head this way and that way. I am sure he was thinking “How can I get those intruding deer out of my territory?” He turned on his hooves and pounded back down the field again toward the grazing deer; same reaction from the undeterred reaction from the deer. However, we did note  that the deer seemed to move a few feet away when the moose wasn't looking. Finally the moose, tiring of his game, gave up his bullying and sauntered off into the woods. We were much relieved that our "Nature Vision" did not become a violent rated scene that Sabbath morning. This experience with the moose, was to mark the beginning of “Mooseville and their neighbors". Often we would see in our “Nature Vision” moose and other wild creatures such as bear, coyote's, caribou, elk, beaver, lynx, cougar, squirrel, pack rat and the ever present mouse pest. These animals became a part of our daily lives; or was it that we became a part of theirs?

A young moose

Have you ever wished to go to a private place where you can walk and talk with God, alone?  Have you ever wished that you could tell Him all your troubles, desires, and sing songs of praises  to Him out loud?  The wilderness was the perfect setting for this kind of walk.  Besides God, only the animals could hear the voice of one speaking outloud in the woods.  This became a part of our devotional life; walking with God in the forest.  There were times that I could enter my walk in the woods with a troubled heart, but I always returned home with my burdens lifted.  This was the primary purpose for moving to the wilderness; to experience a closer walk with God. 

All of these puzzle pieces and more came together for us at Border Mountain. The loud clamor of the world and its demands could not reach us with its tentacles in the wilderness; its incessant demands were silenced. Gone were the constant man-made sounds. Quietness and peace took their place. Our puzzle was slowly being assembled. The challenges, the joys, the peace and the hard work and yes, even the "Igloofridge" all made up a most interesting scene.