The Backwoods

Where we teeter between our love of modern convenience and the yearning for something long past; a world where neighbors knew your name and a “Friend Request” was eye contact and a smile.

Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch…

Posted · 4 Comments

Boys in canoe 2

Today on Johnson Lake

I think often of this site…ideas for improvement flitting through my head, one-liners jotted down in yellow notebooks, good intentions paving the road to nowhere.

And then life slams me back into reality as the land of the midnight sun has us attempting to complete a year worth of work in the four months of summer Alaska has to offer.  When the sun doesn’t disappear behind the mountains again till one a.m. …sleep becomes something you dream about while shifting gears on the run.

And so we wake, we work, we sleep. Not necessarily in that order. And sometime in September we’ll slow down long enough to realize we didn’t accomplish half what we had hoped.

Since it’s late, I’m hungry and my fingernails still have dirt encrusted underneath, I’ll give the paraphrased version of what’s happening. And then I’ll try to log in here more often. Yea…right.

For two years we’ve worked long, physically exhausting days on our 40 acres, clearing, cutting, creating a homesite. When we arrived on the land it was nearly impossible to even walk across, it was so covered by fallen trees and low bushes. We have a dozer, but nothing to lift with and so we were able to push, but not pick up. All lifting has been by hand. All logs that went to the sawmill were dragged or carried by our crew of kids. Every stick, branch, stump or limb was manually moved by small hands and big hearts.  And well…we are tired.

A couple weeks ago Luke casually said to me, “I lived with an aunt once…they weren’t building a house so they actually had time to play with us…”  He didn’t mean anything by it…was simply making a statement.  But the words were profound, even if meant to be nothing.

We’d been working too hard. All those long days, weeks, late nights, taking advantage of the daylight hours to get just one more thing done. They’d been too much.  We’d lost sight of our goal…which was to build a dream together.  And we’d turned our family project of love into a slave driven quest.


So we began a new vision. One of less stress and more joy.  We went to the land with no other intention but to just be.  We relaxed and enjoyed the green peeping from the ground, the sound of the breeze through the newly budding leaves and the idea that all surrounding us was ours to borrow for this life. And then, when we were ready, we slowly began to pull things together.

boys playing bball cabin

The boys, schoolin’ the old man…

Our first stage of the season has been to beautify. We simply began to clean. All the mess left behind by the dozer and cabin construction had been ignored as we built and created. Out came the chainsaw, the rakes and the shovels.  We pulled weeds, planted flowers, built a firpit, sawed firewood and piled limbs until the ground was clean and our disaster area began to take shape into the park-like setting we’d imagined in the first place.


The volleyball court…

And in between…we played. We sat and did nothing. We roasted marshmallows.  We ran with the goats.  And we listened to the whisper of the land we call home.

boys in canoe

Anthony, being the rudder…

Today, on a whim, we threw the canoe in the water for an hour or so.  Tomorrow we are taking the kids camping on a lake.  Dan and the boys spent the evening practicing their cast on the front yard and making a new screen for gold panningwhile the girls and I packed our gear.  Responsibility and work can wait a few days.

Because as they say, life is what happens…while you’re waiting for life to happen.


Me, in my usual position lately…

4 Responses to "Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch…"
  1. Kat says:

    Good for you. It’s important to take a break once in awhile and just be a family instead of working so hard you lose sight of why you’re working so hard in the first place. The house will eventually get done. Until then, enjoy those kids, take time to kick back in the sunshine, and take a little time for yourself, too.

  2. Night Rider says:

    Good for you. I wish I could come play too.

  3. Jenny Mclean Ballard says:

    Build your house, play with your kids, work, and relax in all the time your want. You blog and all of readers….long distant friends………, will be here when you’re ready.

  4. Lynn Falconer says:

    Keep using the sun protection Keri, even when the suns not shining take the time to look after your skin, it is a small thing you can do for you. I am glad to see the fun being incorporated into your lifestyle it gives so much more energy to the daily round.

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