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Indian Lake in Winter

Unexpected gifts from our year in the woods

On June 1st, 2015, my son, myself, our two cats, and our dog loaded up our car with what we thought we needed (computers, some clothes, and of course some books) and began the long drive from Texas to Maine. Our house had sold. I had traded in our 13-year-old Honda Accord for a -- much more practical for us. Everything else we left behind in storage. Boxes full of books and pots and plates. Lego sets and quilts. We even had to leave behind our Dalek scarecrows.

We tried to put everything in the way back of the car, leaving the back seat free for the pets. After much yowling and carrying on, we decided that the cats would likely do a lot better outside of their crates than in. (A bold decision considering our 14-year-old Manx had yet to take to our brand new kitten.) But whether it was the movement of the car or simply the excitement of doing something new, they mostly stayed lined up on the backseat –one, two, three.

Four long days, three nights in pet-friendly hotels, and more than 2,000 miles later, we arrived at our temporary home in Maine. Questions like how long are you here for? And what's the plan? were frequent. Oh, 3-6 months, I said. The other question was usually answered with a shrug.

Summer passed, the leaves fell, the snows came and we were still here. Things got a little dicey toward the end of January. I was a little afraid we'd do a live performance of The Shining a couple of times. But those moments were very few. I believe we wintered well. Although the guy at the local hardware store/health food store/best place to buy spices store says it was an Easy Win-tah. Didn't count.

It's nearing the end of May. In a little more than two weeks, it will have been a year. And it's been a very good year. Hard and dark at times, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. I can say that I can officially make really awesome sour dough bread. I can juggle pretty well. I've learned a little Arabic (although my son is well on his way to becoming fluent). And I've learned to be still. That's probably the greatest gift that I've gained from this last year. There's a stillness in me now that's never been there before. And I know it's that peace that passes all understanding. That quiet assurance that all is well.

(Posted May 22nd, 2016)

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Author Heather Hepler

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She is too fond of books, and it has addled her brain. -- Louisa May Alcott

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