Flatlanders are hunkered down for the winter

Bradford, Maine, two-months after moving, again. This morning was a toasty 13°F here at our redneck version of a high-tech secret layer.

In a strange turn of dramatic events, our 19-year-old son, James, has moved in with us. He is sleeping on a comfortable little cot wedged between the fridge and the kitchen table—which also serves as my desk. I think there will be an adjustment period to our 6:30AM schedule in a one-room cabin. James is spending the day appealing the academic dismissal he received following his first semester of college, given his living situation and prospects. He is not a fan of rustic life.

Today is our 9-year-old son’s birthday who lives with us part-time. Danny will be here this evening, and is looking forward to spending time with his big brother. Tomorrow is expected to be a snow day for him. We also have a 20-year-old son, Simon, who is studying at the University of Southern Maine. They recently visited with his partner and friends to do some exploring.

The camp has no road or running water—or address for that matter. We were somehow able to finagle a local Post Office box and are parking the car at the edge of a field on a right-of-way. We are getting to the camp on a 4-wheeler with a trailer on back, to haul both supplies and unsuspecting humans (who may, or may not visit us again). Both of which often arrive either mud or slush splattered somewhere along the one-mile ride in.

Pro tips for rustic living in a one-room cabin in winter:

  • Bundle up before visiting in the outhouse. It’s never good to rush things. And don’t forget to bring out the TP, which must be removed at night so mice don’t use it for nest insulation. I mean, can you blame them?
  • Stock up on water from the stream before it freezes over on cold stretches. It’s easier than chopping through ice for water to shower and clean dishes with. We purchase 5-gallon refillable water jugs for drinking and cooking with.
  • Assign each person a single spoon and fork they are solely responsible for cleaning, to reduce dishes piling up in a very small space with no running water.
  • Don’t bring a cat.
a stream in winter with fresh snow clinging to the trees.

I have applied for several positions in writing, web development, and graphic design. I have my first interview tomorrow. I’ve been working on a sci-fi novel, heavy with with AI-generated illustrations for a few months. With it being my first book, I’ve removed a gutter for a previous neighbor who is an accomplished writer, in exchange for assistance with self-publishing.

There have been bobcat tracks in the front yard, which is concerning with a tiny dog and a fat house cat who isn’t exactly nimble. Old Mr. Mittens has an eye clouding over and a cough as of late. He also escaped from his crate on the 4-wheeler ride in, resulting in a frantic dash in the snow to rescue him. Oh the perils of cat life.

In between working remotely from our computers, it’s nice to get out a take a walk. I set up our first game cam spot, a favorite past time of mine. It’s a perfect distance to take a quick walk on our lunch break to swap out the card. So far I’ve had a lot of terrible selfies of me setting it up and changing the cards.

There is a bone pile nearby from an old farm with long-picked bones bleached by the sun. Several massive skulls caught my eye. I trekked out with bull, horse, and hog skulls along with some huge jaw bones. My first trail into the woods is now marked with them.

I found a great spot for weaving more living tree artworks. The property is full of large clusters of uniformly-sized young birches, a tree species that tend to naturally bend easily. It’s a shame to leave behind my 104-foot-long tree tunnel in Bucksport, back on the farm.

I have not allowed myself for even a second to regret selling the farm. In some ways, I’m afraid to. This fall I was planning to hunt out there, with the permission of the new owner, of course. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. By the end of our time there, I felt like I’d stepped foot on every spot of the 34-acres. I’m looking forward to more places to explore.

We have our hands with making constant minor improvements and keeping the place warm. Kevin installed LED light strips on the ceiling which make way more light and use less energy. Wood is our soul heat source and we don’t have any ahead. Kevin and I spent Christmas day cutting, transporting, chopping, and stacking wood.

I find the holidays difficult and generally look for a hole to hide in. Getting wood was a welcome distraction while I powered through my depressive seasonal slump. The last few weeks I’ve felt heavy, mentally and physically exhausted, and distant. I have hyper-focused on my book. Today, I’m working on a lengthy cover letter for an intriguing career opportunity, and helping James with his appeal.

The boat is still in dry dock for upgrades and maintenance to prepare it for sale. We expect it to ‘splash’ this week. The sale on this property in Bradford is still in progress, thanks to the bureaucratic process of our government.

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