Minor edit December 2013
SPRING 2012: my seventh Spring under the influence of Balsamea
During a handful of years when I lived 20 miles south of Balsamea, I had cause to often drive by a stretch of forest that captured my attention in a way that made me think, “Gee, this would be a nice place to live.” I knew it would never happen. Buying land was just out of the question for me.
Never say never. Things changed, and I started shopping for land in January 2005.
That stretch of forest beckoning to me was for sale! However, it was vastly larger than I could afford. I asked the seller to subdivide a piece for me. They said that they were just about to subdivide it anyway.
In May 2005, that patiently beckoning land embraced me as its own. I called it Balsamea.
I knew there would be no house at Balsamea for many years. I avoided saying never, but I could not imagine how I could afford to build a house within less than ten years. Still, at only twenty miles away, I could visit often. I would develop a nicely equipped campsite and a network of trails.
That summer, two miles down the road I bought a 32-year-old 16-foot camper trailer for $400. If I had realized the work I’d need to put into it, the price should have been $100. Over the next few years I put at least $1000 into it (not counting anything for my labor), for repairs, improvements, customizing and winterizing.
It beats the heck out of a tent.
For the next three years, Balsamea tended my soul through many days, nights, weekends, and longer stays, up to ten days.
To keep it accessible by car in winter, every time they forecast snow I went there the night before, and then dug my way out from the camper after the storm – 300 feet of rough, uneven dirt-and-grass driveway, plus spaces around the camper and shed.
People ask how I shoveled all that snow. Slowly.
I had three machines to help with this job: arms, legs, and back. I learned to turn “snow moving” into a form of enjoyable meditation. Runners have that endorphin thing. My yoga mat was a shovel.
Life back at my full-time residence grew problematic, and Balsamea just would not quit asking me to stay.
In May 2008, I moved into the camper and lived there full-time, year-round for two years. I then moved into a new little house built next to the camper, finished in May 2010. (I bought a snow thrower in December 2008. The house is 100 feet closer to the road, too.)
- May 2005: the land purchase
- May 2008: the move into camper
- May 2010: the house finished
- May 2012: this scribblement, and this expansion of Balsamea to a place in the blogosphere.
I didn’t plan the repeating May thing.
So, it’s not only never say never, but also never say it will take ten years. Just say, “So let it be written. So let it be done.” (My favorite line of the movie, The Ten Commandments, as delivered so well by Yul Brynner’s Rameses. And he got to wear all those snazzy outfits.)
What calendar do dreams live by?
Since August 2007, I have been blessed continually by the companionship of the Prince of Balsamea, Buddy the Buddha Dog and Four-Pawed Therapist. He didn’t take much space in the camper. Just one bench seat. Buddy gets a lot of air time in this blog.
As always with everything you find at TheBalsamean.com, we (Balsamea, Buddy and I) invite your comments, questions, suggestions, musings and arguments, either below or privately by email. Thank you.