Y.U.R.T.: You Understand Rare Treats

I had fun coming up with these YURT reverse acronyms: Young Urban-Rural Tourist.  Yes, Unless Really Tired (this was a close second to the final title).  Yucky Underwear Rides Tightly.  You’re an Uber Radical Teacher.  I chose “You Understand Rare Treats” because of how much I have come to appreciate what many people take for granted.

A photo of me on the trail to the yurt from about a month ago.

A photo of me on the trail to the yurt from about a month ago courtesy of my cousin Kirsten.

These amenities aren’t rare to the masses, but they have been rare to us for the last couple of years.  I have come to cherish my times with a few benign and otherwise not-so-exciting things: Dishwashers, hot water from a tap, flushing toilets, waking up in a warm room, cupboards that don’t require extensive Tetris skills to organize, house plants that survive for more than one year, washers and dryers, interior doors–this exciting list could go on!

As I write this post, I am counting down the days (not months or even weeks!) until we say goodbye to yurt life.  It is a bittersweet time, full of excitement and nervous energy.  I’ve said to myself many times over the last months, “I can’t wait until I can just _________ after we move to a new place!”  Even with this excitement for the conveniences of a “normal” living situation, I really will miss the yurt and our sweet time in it.

Snoozing away in our messy bed right under the rafters.

Snoozing away in our messy bed right under the rafters.

What will I miss?

Being so close to my loved ones. All. The. Time. When we are home, we are together.  When we move to our new place with rooms with doors, we will undoubtedly spend more time apart and alone.  It’s the American way, right?

The Sounds. Yesterday, I heard a dog making a noise I had never heard in our neighborhood–a very earnest whining.  I was worried it had gotten hit by a car or was otherwise injured.  After a brief investigation it turned out that all was well. It was just a loud visiting dog with annoying habits.  However, I never would have heard the foreign sound (or recognized that it wasn’t a normal neighborhood sound) if I hadn’t been in the thin-walled yurt, steeped in the sounds of our street for the last two years.  There are so many other sounds that will be missed when a shingled, insulated roof is over our heads: rain drops, wind, snow slides, leaves dropping, howling from nearby dog teams, cat fights, even the annoying ATVs that zoom past at all hours.

A toasty, hard earned fire!

A toasty, hard earned fire!

Intimate connection with our resource use. We (by we I mean Evan, primarily) have hauled every drop of water we have used in the yurt and we have chopped and hauled every piece of wood that has burned to keep us warm.  While we do have electricity that we aren’t as connected to, these other two have helped us really appreciate the resources that go into making us comfortable.  Just as I’ve heard of those who have lived in deserts, on boats or in other resource limited areas, we will carry the conservation principles we’ve honed in on in the last few years into the places we will call home in the future.

Baking on the impermanent counter top.

Baking on the impermanent counter top.

Impermanence. As a bit of a neo-Buddhist, I’m a fan of the whole concept of impermanence.  There is beauty in that which we know will not last forever (which is everything!  It is all beautiful in its own way).  Some things, especially standard homes, feel very permanent and stagnant.  Where is the fluidity? the dynamism? The possibility?  I know these are all possible and probable in standard homes, but living in a traditionally nomadic structure makes it impossible to escape the impermanence of it all.  Very few things in this space are fully secured–not even the kitchen counter top!

A very supportive community.  Hungry too!

A very supportive community. Hungry too!

The Location.  We live in some of our best friends’ yard.  We see our best friends nearly every day–how many people can do that?  The community we live in is beautiful, supportive and adventurous.  We live in the woods with mountains in the background.  There are trails nearby that we can walk day after day and rarely ever see another person.  We know the checkout people at the grocery store and wave at familiar cars on the street.  This will take awhile to build up again in a new place.

The path to our front door. This one might sound silly, but I will miss it.  it is a simple dirt path full of gnarly roots and holes dug by the dogs.  It is where Ava has learned to walk and navigate tough terrain.  We made it ourselves by walking it over and over, day after day.  Over time it has become lined with some rocks that we’ve unearthed and a few decorative trail markers.  Even with the steep sections and ruts, I can navigate it in the pitch black of night if I have to. I curse it some days when I’ve slipped and fallen, or when I have to make multiple trips to lug stuff from the car.  Will we ever have a trail like this to our home again?  One that isn’t paved or cobbled in some way?

Well, I’ve gone and done it–given myself that familiar knot in the back of my throat and made myself cry a bit.  It’s funny how things like a gnarly, rooted, curse-worthy trail can tug at our heart strings.

Navigating our wooded trail has made Ava quite the agile little hiker and tree climber!

Navigating our wooded trail has made Ava quite the agile little hiker and tree climber!

I’ve moved way too many times since leaving my childhood home, but this is the first place that has really felt special, like it is ours.  It will be hard to say goodbye, even if we are moving on to bigger and brighter things.

Like a dishwasher.  My twenty-something year old self would be disappointed in how excited (for the record: I’m REALLY EXTRAORDINARILY EXCITED!!! On a scale of 1-10 I’m at 1,923,871,934) I am about having a dishwasher. C’est la vie.

To make light of our move, I’ve been focusing on all of the things I plan on doing with the freedom of living in a place with more conveniences.  I’ve been calling them my “delusions,” because I expect (okay, okay, I totally know) that I won’t have any free time with two kids under two….

My hopeful delusions mostly include doing more artsy and crafty things like knitting, sewing, writing poetry, creating mosaics, learning how to quilt and doing toddler appropriate art with Ava.  I’ve even thought of making paper to use for writing real snail mail letters to folks!  Whoa. I’m going to call more friends and family regularly, cook tons of gourmet meals,  and do yoga all the freaking time with all of the time I’m going to have!  Of course, I’ll do all of this with an impeccably clean house and while spending lots of quality time with my family. I’ll be the envy of all of Pinterest. One can dream, right?

I’ll likely be writing my next post from a much different locale.  It will be fun to report on how this Rural Farmgirl adapts to life in the Big City of Anchorage!  The City Farmgirl seems to be making her way in the country, can I do the same?!

Until next time, Sending you peace and love from Alaska,

Alex, The Rural Farmgirl

  1. Dirtduchess says:

    What a story. I felt as if I were sitting outside your yurt drinking tea listening to you. Can not wait to hear iof your adventure on moving.

  2. Denise Ross says:

    Gosh that’s quite an adaption to prepare for. I would say the simplicity of living where you are right now, living in your yurt, though hard would be amazing.
    I think you’ll do well in the city bwcause you have great mindset and value system. You might even teach your new neighbours a thing or tow.
    All the best with your move and be kind to yourself
    Hugs from the land down under (Australia )
    Denise x

  3. Susabelle says:

    The hardest part will be maintaining that simple lifestyle that you’ve developed and loved. I couldn’t care less about a dishwasher, but a washer, dryer, and clothesline are awesome things. 🙂 And you have your partner to help keep things simple – you are both on the same page. I don’t have that, my husband is a sit-in-front-of-the-tv-and-eat-junk-food guy, while I’m in the garden, working on crafts, climbing mountains, and going to work at a stressful job every day. It is a balancing act, and I think your young years spent in a simple life will really be the learning experience you needed it to be!

  4. Adrienne says:

    You Understand Rural Treasures

  5. Barb P says:

    It has been interesting, educational, and fun following Your Uplifting and Rewarding Triumphs, not to mention trials and tribulations. I look forward to your future posts!

  6. Maureen Griffin says:

    Alex, I read this post with a catch in my throat. The yurt has been and is a special home for you and Evan and Ava. It is an experience you will have with you forever and you should feel very proud of the amazing home you have made in the AK woods.

    All my life I have enjoyed all the amenities you mentioned in your post but I haven’t experienced a house plant living for more than a year.

    Love , Mom

    • Alexandra Wilson says:

      I know for a fact that a couple of your plants have been around for awhile! You made me tear up again, in a good way of course. Love you.

  7. Barbara says:

    Alex, one adventure comes to a close and, yet, the excitement of what is to come is very evident in your words. New routines, more comfort/convenience items, more time to appreciate the now, making new friends, adding your footprint to your new community and just plain investigation of new environs. Oh my, how I wish I were young again and could walk with you on this new path. Enjoy every minute, even the more testy ones. I’ve had a life time of good and not so good adventures and I hoard their memories like gold. Blessings to you and yours.

  8. Karen says:

    Maybe some day you can have both: the “good stuff, like dishwashers” and a rural, peaceful life. I live in the woods in WV and it’s wonderful!

    • Alexandra Wilson says:

      That is the hope, Karen! Looking forward to that time, but also enjoying the intermediate steps along the way. I am excited to live in a city (as much of a city as Anchorage is anyhow…), because I don’t expect we will do much city living in future moves. I forgot to mention that we will be within walking distance of so many things: parks, trails, a big museum, bakeries, a small grocery, farmer’s markets, a community garden and Evan’s work!

  9. Trish says:

    Aw! We went from rural ranch living to town to tiny tourist town to the mountains. Every place has really had it’s own trials and tribulations and it’s own blessings and special people. Enjoy every step of the way and hopefully someday you have the opportunity to move back to the woods… There’s no place quite as serene in my mind ;-).

  10. Hi Alex,

    Awww…. I’m gonna miss the Yurt! 🙂

    I can relate just a tiny bit as we lived in our travel trailer for 2 years while we were building our house. It was so much fun for the first year… and then it just got worse and worse! By the time we moved out, we never wanted to step foot in that travel trailer again. Seriously. We cleaned that thing up and had it sold within a month!

    So I’m curious about what will happen to the Yurt. Is it staying in your friend’s yard? Or is it something that can be “put away” and sold?

    I’m excited for you. It’s a new adventure and you’ll love it. And I really, really do hope you’ll make paper and send me a snail mail note!

    I also think you’ll make a great Rural Farmgirl in the city. Anchorage is kind of a one of a kind city anyway.

    Big hugs and great excitement for you!

    – Dori –

    P.S. Ava’s farmgirl friend is sure gonna miss you.

    • Alexandra Wilson says:

      I will miss the yurt, too! We will be selling the yurt soon, but we don’t know if we’ll be taking it down now or in the spring (I vote the spring! However, I think hubby wants to get it moved along sooner…I think it will snow in the next week or two, so we’ll see). If we sell it now and the buyers want it ASAP we’ll take it down, otherwise it will stay up over the winter and our friends can use it if they want to. We also thought about leasing it to some college students or something similar, but the right match hasn’t arisen.

      We will love this new adventure! I know we will; but it’s hard to leave a place when it has just started to feel like a good fit, you know?

      On to Anchorage–“a city built by people who don’t like cities.”

      And yes, you are right, Ava’s farmgirl friend is NOT happy with our move…she has been protesting it all summer. We have many protesters, which is actually a great feeling–makes it harder to move on though. I have promised some slumber parties in the future!

  11. Lynn Lind says:

    Strangely enough, this desert girl has been to Alaska (albeit via a famous/infamous Inland Cruise ship), and I’ve visited and walked the streets of Juneau, but not Anchorage… Hate to tell you this, but you’re still gonna be in the boonies… Way North!!!
    Look forward to hearing more of you adventures…

    • Alexandra Wilson says:

      Haha, yes Lynn, you are right. We will still be in the boonies compared to many places! It’s the biggest city for many, many miles around though 🙂

  12. Mary Jo foster says:

    My older daughter lives in anchorage She is nurse at hospital there. Name Peggy Watson

  13. pj says:

    what are you doing with the yurt? will you sell it? is there a market for such things? i am very curious 🙂 also , i have been house-sitting for the last year but do not have a contract at this time. i am technically homeless even though i am able to stay a few nights at a time at friends homes until another situation is found. i have chosen this way of living to deal with the fact that my income does not provide for the paying of rent. i am 63 years old and the lack of permanence is very difficult for me sometimes.i have moved 16 times in the last 20 years. i am very fortunate to have a large portion of gypsy in my personality which makes it tolerable. 🙂 i also find a lot to be thankful for in the simple blessings of life and especially when considering the sad situations of so many others in the world. Here in the USA we have so much more than anywhere else. i hope you enjoy many wonderful blessings in your new home…

    • Alexandra Wilson says:

      Thank you, PJ! We will be selling the yurt. We have potential buyers right now, but we probably won’t know if they really want it until after the holidays. It would be nice to keep it, but transporting it from place to place right now when we don’t know where we’ll end up isn’t very feasible. Moving frequently is hard! I’m impressed that you continue to do it. I like that–you have a bit of gypsy in you!

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