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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Dutch Flat Isn't

Looking downhill along Main Street
I live in a town called Dutch Flat.  Funnily enough, it is neither flat, nor was it founded by Dutch people. It’s a tiny mountain community in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and it’s mostly comprised of ridges and valleys, with only sparse sloping bits sprinkled in. (Here’s the Wikipedia entry, if you want to know more).

The origins of Dutch Flat are in gold mining, which then morphed into timber. Now, modest amounts of tourism and a tiny bit of retail are about the only industries: most people are either retired or commute 20 miles down the mountain to work. At its peak, 6,000 people called this hamlet home. Today, only 333 people remain. I’m pretty proud to be counted among that small number. It’s a wonderful place to live.

It’s here that my British husband and I, along with our four kids, decided to try to carve out a life after over eight years living in England. We had a finite pot of money, and it would buy a larger home in town or a smaller one on acreage. We held a family meeting and it was unanimous: mountain living!

Our mountain home

My favorite home in Dutch Flat
I kind of feel like Almanzo and Laura Ingalls Wilder as they headed out of DeSmet and established themselves in Missouri . . . we have a LOT of work to do to our land and home to make them what we dream they can be. And I confess that the work sometimes exhausts, dejects, and overwhelms me.

Raising four kids is enough effort by itself without having to add the felling and processing of over 300 huge pine trees, fencing acres of land, and leveling red clay dirt before we even get to the 'fun' bit of expanding and refurbishing.

But, as I sit on my deck, gazing through the thick forest we have yet to thin, I feel to the very core of me that it is work worth doing and a life worth building. I am learning to let go of what is unimportant, embracing what is, and leaning in toward the moments with my family that I will never have again.

Life is good.

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