Season Four At Down-Time Abbey

by | Jan 30, 2014

I can tell this story three ways and still have five endings. Yeah we moved from Chester to Warwick; from a village of 3,000 to a hamlet of 720. We left attitude for solitude. TLD and I traded a Main Street address for five acres on a dead end, dirt road. We won’t see a car all day long, but we see our pond. There are 21 people per square mile in these parts. That detail wasn’t in the brochure. And yeah we forgot to ask about the winters.

When we arrived in late August 2009, locals welcomed and engaged us. Within days, and following their advice, we bought snow shovels, bug repellant, a generator, windshield scrapers, antifreeze, and anything else that would make life convenient. By September 1st, we were prepared for anything except maybe the cold to come. After four years, some patterns have become familiar.

We’ve adjusted to the isolated life. A bird journal, the internet, multiple CSAs, snowshoeing, Buddy, and Downton Abbey are part of the routine. So is staying warm. Because heat is a currency with an exchange rate that varies by the hour, TLD and I share the load when it comes to the wood pile, stacking it, taking wheelbarrows full to the house, lighting the stove, and cleaning the ashes. But as the bartender asked the horse waiting in line for a drink, “So, what’s with the long face?”

It’s the middle of yet another long winter on the mountain. There comes a time when the sound of quiet is less about tranquility and more about hearing nothing. And when snow doesn’t get any more beautiful or whiter, it simply accumulates. There are moments in conversation when your mind thinks alone but your mouth says lonely. And there’s the chill, the eternal chill. These are the days we sit by the window, but not so much to look out as to look in.

We came here for many reasons. We wanted to close a circle and make it smaller too. We needed to hear our own voices. We wanted fewer conventions, and newer challenges. We needed down time. We wanted to write, and to think; to examine life as well as to live it. We came here to hide, and also to seek.