April 1st has come and gone, and this cover image is no April Fool’s prank. The snow IS still blanketing us here in northern Ontario. There’s no shortage of available berths at North Bay’s marina!
Despite winter lingering, the months have passed quickly since Tim and I left Ariose near Lunenberg Nova Scotia. Instead of transporting our beloved Alberg 30 home, Tim and I towed the weight of uncertainty with us. We weren’t sure what was next in our lives. We’ve spent the past few months figuring it out and making things happen.
First, though, our boat. How is Ariose faring? Very well.
It has been strange to not have Ariose tucked within view, in its boat shed on our property. Actually, though, there’s been a bit of relief. With nearly 2000 km separating boat from labourers, there is no pressure to tackle the never-ending list of boat-work, which is good as we have had plenty of land-based work to complete. We assume Ariose is a happy vessel, having experienced a less extreme, maritime climate this winter. It’s been reassuring to have our friend George keeping a watchful eye and sending updates.
And how are Tim and I doing? We’re doing well, too.
We’re both appreciating solo life. Living apart suits us, but we are taking a unique approach to this separation thing. We both love our land, and are grateful to have 130 forested acres of it. Certainly there’s plenty to share. We have no plans to give it up. We’ll continue our co-ownership and for both of us, this will remain our terrestrial home base.
Tim burrowed back into the straw-bale garage/cabin, and has focused on a few interests and projects since our return. Some of these have been his own, and some helping me… more on that in a moment.
When we got back, I moved into a friend`s bunkie for a bit of recovery and reflection time. (Thanks, F.) It was much like boat living, off-grid and compact, but without worry of dragging anchor. It was nearly perfect, but as autumn ended, I missed being home.
I was inspired to build my own tiny space on our property. Tim offered to help. I had over a month before deep cold set in, and expected that would be enough time to construct such a small structure, a mere 8’x12′, or at least, to get it to the point of being inhabitable.
Late November, with Tim’s help, I chose a lovely site tucked in our woods near the lake. We took down a reluctant leaning balsam, which became the first roof rafter of my small off-grid abode. And thus commenced THE build. Four months later, it’s still far from complete, but I have moved in. It’s been quite the learning curve. And quite the effort. My casual “this can’t possibly take long” assessment was way off. It has been a challenging winter build, especially for a novice. Dragging materials through the snow, scraping ice off the previous day’s work, working with frozen tools and frozen toes. Tim contributed his brains and brawn as needed. A friend and neighbour helped out with his workshop tools and his expertise. (Thank you J.) Another generous neighbour let me stay in his summer house just a short walk down the road. (And thank you S.) Luxurious warm baths at the end of the day sustained me.
Similar to our sailing experiences, there seems to be an inverse relationship between the degree of difficulty and the ultimate satisfaction. Let me just say that the satisfaction is high. Very high.
Once the cabin was enclosed, and my mini-woodstove installed, the icy discomfort was left behind. I felt a bit of a proud swagger in my gait as I wandered over to start each day’s work, circular saw in one hand, lumber on the other shoulder.
Tim did a great job designing, sourcing, and instalIing a solar electrical system. There’ll be no need to ration power… this cabin’s loaded. For water, I’ll bucket it from a nearby spring.
I’m wrapping up the interior’s finishing touches and later this year, I’ll complete the exterior and the landscaping.
It’s especially gratifying that most lumber has been harvested from our land and prepared on our mill, and other materials, like roofing, windows, and siding, we salvaged from demolitions thus rescuing them from a landfill fate. A few items, I did need to purchase new. I now have my own home base, a very simple, very light footprint nest to nourish my spirit
Tim and I will trial this new configuration of living apart but sharing our land. Maybe building a `real`home will be in my future – but definitely not in winter!
And what’s next?
Tim and I both have some sailing adventures ahead in 2023. Tim is planning to return to Ariose this summer. He’ll test the waters – literally – getting some solo sailing experience along Nova Scotia’s coast. If all goes well, he’ll assume ownership of the boat and consider voyaging further.
I’m leaving next week to join 2 other women sailing from Panama to Guatemala. Am I excited? Yes! We’re planning a couple leisurely months, enjoying several island groups along the way, and also will have some longer passages as we give the Honduran and Nicaraguan coast a wide berth for safety.
So, that’s what we’ve been up to this winter, and what we have ahead. I’ll wrap up with one final (I hope!) image of this morning’s roadside icy wonderland. Happy spring to all!