To Inherit a Treasure
Like a rare jewel, the value of the unique lifestyle existing in Stehekin increases over time. In an era where self- reliance has disappeared into rapid and fragmented living, this valley and the people it calls its own keep alive a way of life to be treasured. Our daily lives reflect a rich heritage of the raw spirit that has gone before us to create today’s advanced lifestyles.
Convenience does not exist in the mountains. Even gadgets and machines cannot overcome this simple law that affects those who choose to live so close to raw nature. Our lives take on the rhythms and cycles all around us. We are subject to strong elemental forces larger than our wills. In awe and due respect we must live conscientiously and make every move count. A modern lifestyle finds no space here… we simply cannot move that fast, and, we like it that way.
Due to remoteness we must rely on what is immediately around us for basic survival rudiments. This is the difference and this is the beauty and this is the pioneer’s life. We can know our sources of life so readily. Heat comes from the forest with firewood, water comes directly from snows and rains, some food is grown from our own soil. The air is fresh. Most of our homes are built from local resources, most by our own hands.
Skills and crafts reminiscent of early settlers, largely dependent on handwork, are kept alive in Stehekin. This is partly due to a desire to be consistent in self- reliance and partly due to simple need. A person learns the value of practicality in the “old ways” of splitting wood, log work, horse packing, putting up food, butchering, spinning, knitting, leatherwork, etc.
Community life speaks of the old- fashioned traditions worthy of remembering and retaining. Young and old mix at numerous potlucks for all occasions, square dances, volleyball and baseball games, races, and graduation celebrations of the one- room school. In times of need differences are dropped. At other times we are as diverse in character as you can find. Like a family our arguments cry out to be resolved because tomorrow we will need to live and work together whether we want to or not!
The presence of a dishwasher, satellite TV dish or VCR does not change our need to experience the ritual of wood- gathering for survival’s sake. We still become snowed in. The river floods, we run out of food supplies, we cannot communicate easily with our relatives elsewhere and we must wait for mail, parts and people. We do pay a price for choosing to live a lifestyle that requires our constant attention. However, what we gain is priceless. Understanding life from the foundation up, understanding cycles from beginning to end to beginning again, respecting the mountains. Stepping outside to be filled with the humbling lessons of nature and inspiring beauty of quiet majesty.
To live Stehekin’s lifestyle of self- reliance keeps alive a respect for ourselves and our abilities and for those that came before and lived this type of life completely. Stehekin is important to the rest of the world as a reminder of values from the past worthy of passing on. Like a rare jewel, Stehekin holds a wealth untold for those who keep its unique way of life polished.