Honestly, 2016 was not my favourite year from a news perspective, but then one of the promises I've made to myself is to read less news in the new year. Or at least to seek out legitimate news, which is a bit like finding gold ingot buried in the compost heap. In a personal sense, a year of upheaval has led us from the prairies to the mountains, to a place where it seems anything can and often does happen.
Reflections on our new home place? It seems blessed with an endless supply of creative anachronism, and not just in the sense that yes, some people actually dress as though they exist in a whole different century, or reality. There is a sense of optimism here, despite the proliferation of homelessness and addiction that also seems to exist. It is a place a bit outside of time, where conscientious objectors live happily alongside excruciatingly cheery Australian ski buffs, stores have "sliding scale" pricing and focus hard on natural, organic, fair-trade, local, free-range, handmade ....where was I going with this? Anyhow, it is just that way.
It is a bit hard to reconcile the well-heeled, fresh-faced, Patagonia-wearing crowd with the dreadlocked cape-wearing panhandler with a dog and guitar on the corner, but there it is. Weirdly I feel like I fit in here just by virtue of being human. And if my child wants to dance down the street wearing mismatched rainbow knee socks, red suspenders, shorts over tights, a down coat and a top hat, no one even bats an eyelash. You have got to love that.
Certainly the pioneer spirit is alive and well, since surviving in a place where fabulously-well-paying jobs are few does present challenges. Making a living requires endless flexibility, and possibly the ability to raise your own rare sheep, shear them, spin and dye the wool and weave it by hand into value-added luxury pashminas, while composting the sheepshit into your organic vegetable gardens. Back-to-the-landers are in heaven here. As long as you've got a sunny slope then you might as well grow veg and raise chickens on it. Unless of course you can afford to pay the prices at the glorious new co-op store. *sigh
The thrifting economy flourishes in the Kootenays, so if you are willing to work for it and really dig, there are treasures to be found. Facebook buy and sell pages are unbelievably competitive so if you are serious about looking for something you have to troll the waters almost constantly, as coveted items are often offered and bought within minutes. Best buys? Ikea Billy bookshelves for $50 and a gorgeous old wood sewing table for $40. A fist pump is totally acceptable when you score a deal.
I am working at resurrecting my country skills now that we have moved away from townhouse living, back to the woods. The mountains stretch out around us, so that all we have to do is strap on snowshoes to walk out behind the house onto the trails.
Winter is well and truly settled in for the long haul, which means the oft-made resolution to embrace the season has again been made. It is so much easier to embrace winter when the very act of breathing does not feel like sticking dry ice up your nose (-50 degree prairie windchill, anyone?) but I am the first to admit I am not a snow bunny. Snowshoeing out on the mountain is glorious but the local passion for downhill skiing is probably not contagious as I have quite a high level of immunity to death-defying sports.
Creative endeavours always seem to take off in the colder months, and this year is no exception, but READING will always be my favourite winter sport. I so miss working in a library just for the flow of suggestions on what to read next. What is on your shelf for this winter? I am crushing on these books but looking for more as always, particularly as I gravitate towards light, fluffy, happy-ending fiction and I feel I should broaden my horizons. Of course, there are times (all of 2016) when fluffy happy endings are really quite appreciated. Needed, even.
Living in the woods does make me feel like I should learn to whittle, or knit, or something like that. We've tried felting this winter, with some small success. Last week we went to the fabric store and wandered around in a dazed and amazed fashion for a while, coming out with what is most likely wildly inappropriate fabrics for my limited skills. I am pretty sure the salesclerks snickered when we left. Still, perhaps crepe and chenille will inspire my youngest seamstress child to some cutting-edge dolly creations so it will be worth it.
I am still seeking my place, and who knows, maybe I will find it here.