Maybe because our calendars clicked over into a new year, I’ve been thinking of a lot about our lives now and then. Of course, I’ve been thinking about now and then ever since we moved to our new home, so maybe it doesn’t have much to to do with the calendar at all. I love to count the things that I love no matter what time of year it is.
I started to write a list of the Thens and Nows that we have experienced but then I deleted it because I’ve already tried to write about them in the past and, really, it’s impossible to describe how physically, emotionally, and spiritually weary we had become downstate and how it has suddenly changed for us when we moved North. Life down there was filled with struggle, illness, exhaustion, sorrow, pain, that seemed to stretch on endlessly. Up here in the North, it feels like Spring after Winter, morning after night, laughter after tears, a life filled with endless surprises and delights and possibilities.
We have lived here for 7 months now and rather than write a list of Thens and Nows, I thought I’d just describe all the things that I love about our new life here in the North that bring me joy:
I love that EJ now loves his job and he looks forward to going to work every day. I love that he works for a company that takes care of its employees and with co-workers who are friendly and helpful.
I love that EJ’s normal work week is four 10-hour days so that he gets a three-day weekend every week, which feels like a vacation. I love that he is feeling more rested and the “happiest I have ever been” and that his creativity is coming back. He is currently working on making me a sort of loom to hold my yarn as I use it. Here is a picture, although he’s still tweaking it.
I love that JJ is thriving in a way he never has before. For many reasons, he was miserable downstate and he used to say that he hated Michigan and as soon as he could he would leave and never come back. He has not said it–even once–since when have we moved North. Instead, he says, “I can understand why you and Dad love Michigan so much…I love it here!” I laughed the other day when he exclaimed, “Look! People are driving snowmobiles along the road!” Up here, snowmobiles are allowed on the roads. JJ is filled with a brand new excitement: He is doing well at work, he’s beginning college at the end of this week, and he now has a girlfriend.
I love that Northern Michigan is more prosperous. There is excitement in the air with so many things to see and do and explore. I love the beautiful lakes and forests, the cute little towns, and the awesome libraries, and the old-timey theaters.
I love that a trip to the store or the bank or the hardware store takes us through breathtakingly beautiful scenery. I love that I can find my way to places more easily here in the North. I don’t feel so anxious about getting lost.
I love looking up into the dark night sky and seeing billions and billions of sparkling stars so close that we can almost touch them. I love hearing owls hoot-hoot-hooting at night.
I love walking through our very beautiful forest in all the different seasons. Each season and type of weather gives our Enchanted Forest a different appearance, all of them beautiful.
I love that we have a long steep driveway that winds around and hides us from the road making our land feel like a delicious secret.
I love that it is cooler up here, even in summer, and not so humid.
I love that we don’t have the swarms of vicious mosquitoes that we had in mid-Michigan. We saw only one mosquito at our house this summer…and EJ killed it.
I love the beautiful snow that transforms our Enchanted Forest into a snow globe. I love that we can sled down our driveway with Danny chasing us. We laugh all the way down. And, yes, I do sled down the driveway whenever I go get the mail.
I love the happy grin on Danny’s face as he wanders freely on our five-acres following interesting smells or chasing the sleds down the hill. Whenever he went outside downstate, he was confined to a small fenced-in yard except for his daily walk.
I love that the cats get to roam through the whole house. (In our old house, we had a door to our upstairs and the cats stayed downstairs.) I love the cats telling us it’s time for bed and sleeping with us. I even love Kee-Kee taking shortcuts across my face as he settles next to my head at night.
I love that our house is just big enough and small enough to suit us perfectly. I feel like Goldilocks enjoying the baby bear’s bed.
I love the sunshine streaming through our large windows. In our old house, the windows were narrow and it was so dark inside that we had to keep lights on throughout the day.
I love the view outside my kitchen window. We did what we could to transform our little yard at our old house downstate. We made our whole yard into a garden with paths winding through it. We planted fruit trees, berry bushes, herbs, and vegetables. We put up birdhouses and feeders to attract the birds. I think our yard was cute-ish. However, it was small, and the views out the windows were still of the houses next door. Whenever I look out my kitchen window here in the North, I am filled with absolute delight because I can see the sky and beautiful forests unhindered by neighboring houses. We only get glimpses of our neighbors in the winter when the trees are bare.
I love that we can keep our property more wild up here. At our old home, if our grass grew longer than 6 inches, the Village would mow it and charge $50. We kept our grass mowed, but I was worried whenever the mower wouldn’t run. Here in the North, we don’t have to mow our lawn, except near the house…if we choose. We also don’t have to rake the leaves in the autumn. In fact, it would be impossible to rake our leaves and it’s better for wildlife if we don’t.
I love the wildlife we see on our property here in the North. I love “wildlife-scaping” our yard. During EJ’s days off for New Year’s, we bought a mineral block for the deer to enjoy. At first we put it near the birdfeeders in the front yard, but then we moved it to the back yard where we can see it from our bedroom window. We go in the back yard less frequently so the deer wouldn’t be disturbed. EJ also hammered some nails into a log and put some ears of corn on it for the squirrels.
We don’t see as many birds up here as we did downstate–because they mostly keep to the forest until I put out the birdfeeders after the bears have gone to sleep for the winter. However, I love the different birds we see up here in the North. I told EJ it’s like a burst of serotonin whenever I see the birds. I love the ravens and crows caw-caw-cawing as they fly overhead and the mysterious fluting of the Hermit Thrush. I love the chickadees, nuthatches, gold finches, and the different varieties of woodpeckers. We’ve even had beautiful Pileated Woodpeckers visit our suet. They are the largest of all the woodpeckers–about the size of a crow–and a complete joy to see. They totally belong in an Enchanted Forest.
I love all the “firsts” I am experiencing: My first time living outside a town, my first time having a mailbox along the road, my first time having a generator and having to have water on-hand to flush toilets in a power outage, my first time not seeing neighbors, my first time having deer and turkey wandering through our yard, my first time seeing a Pileated Woodpecker, my first time having to be wary of bears. However, I do not–and never will–like the giant spiders.
We so much love living in the North. We are thriving here, and we feel as if we are growing younger. We feel we have found the place where we belong.
It’s amazing how life can change so completely within a year.