It’s our first night at the yurt. It gets dark here early, so we work by the light of our only lantern and the glow of the wood stove. As I’m typing away, buried in two sleeping bags (with a cast iron “iron” heated on the wood stove tucked inside), Chris is building a stand for the Christmas tree we cut down a few hours ago. We found it in one of our five meadows, just to the side of what is becoming a well-worn path made by the Expedition.
Our first day has been an adventure. Chris chopped wood and rigged up an electrical panel inside that connects to a generator in the shed (the roof of which will host our solar panels). Claustrophobic by nature, he devised a way to fish the extension cord out from underneath the yurt’s eight-inch crawlspace with our dome-vent rod (that’s the thing we use to open the window at the top of the roof). I tried my hand at cooking on the wood stove—after we spent thirty minutes coaxing a fire out of wet kindling. My first experiment went well: boiled water for a hot toddy. Popcorn was a dismal failure. But hot chocolate made with Hershey’s cocoa and milk—plus some vodka, Kahlua, and whipped cream—made for the perfect way to end a hard day of work in the cold.
Sitting on the couch, staring into the fire and at the views outside the windows, we agreed that life just couldn’t get better. But then later that night we saw a fox, who came right up to us (Had he never seen a human? Did he not know to be scared?), and a stunning moonrise that magically lit one of the oldest mountain ranges in North America (at approximately 100 million years old). Maybe when it seems like things can’t get better, that’s just when they do.
And maybe someday, when we figure out this wood stove, I won’t see my breath while writing a blog post and we can actually sleep through the night without nursing a puny fire that keeps the temperature hovering at just about 29 degrees.