Monday, October 14, 2013

A Home in the Wilderness

            Some one is building a new house in the neighborhood.  One day we were hearing heavy equipment and chainsaws down the road and the next day a one acre clearing had been into the spruce forest that been a buffer of woods between houses.  It happened this fall when we were all lookingthe other way.   Some houses will notice the change in how sound carries, and the light will travel differently for the folks to the north and east.  Trees left standing are going to be more exposed the to roaring north wind that rolls through from across the lake.    It is a sign of change, a change that will go on, a Change like we brought five years ago when we built this house, a reminder that all this forest around me is not apt to stay wild forever. 
            Part of the reason we left our old house was the development happening around and in front of us.   We built there over thirty years ago and shared the road with a dozen other houses.  We had a wild creek and acres of wild land around it.   Come winter, we had to wait until the fellow at the end of the road got around to plowing the road.  Often of a Sunday morning it would be noon before the fresh fallen snow would be have any car tracks in it.  But that didn’t last.  Through the years we watched the parade of building supplies and the equipment to move and install them, backhoes and septic tanks, frontend loaders and topsoil, forklifts and gypsum board.   The houses keep popping up like mushrooms, a blue T1-11 two-story here, a cinderblock foundation there and a mobile home or two.   One day an RV park popped up calling giant motors homes from around the continent to come and drive down our road.   They rumbled by like columns of occupation troops come to conquer my wilderness.  Each home on that road is owned by some one who wants to be what I was once, the last one to move into the neighborhood.  We all wantto be last in, the last bunch of noisy kids playing in the alders, the last dog laying in the road, the last with the woods for a backyard.  Unfortunately, the next family is right behind each of us, ready to build a house in the last lot in the last subdivision a the end of the road.
            We say we want to get away from it all, but we really don’t; we don’t want to live in the wilderness, just next to it.  It's a classical Alaskan phenomenon.  Buy a lot in woods three miles from anything and complain if the road isn't plowed by seven a.m.  Most of us want a piece of property backed up against a mountain or the National Forest with a paved street out front served with underground utilities and regular garbage service.  Pretty soon our backwoods parcel is just another busy place full of dogs and four by fours going to fast on a road that get regular grading and stays plowed twolanes wide in winter.
            When we were kayaking on the lake today trying to identify the migrating ducks, I thought how fortunate we are to be able to paddle away from our backdoor into a place more wild than not.  If we can just keep it this way, I won’t mind sharing it with new neighbors.