Stehekin Heritage online: http://stehekinheritage.com/
Living Close to Nature
The primary joy of living in Stehekin, for me, is the closeness to nature in all its glory and power. The longer I live here, the more varied becomes my personal inventory of pleasures. A few of these are:
a cluster of mergansers flying like arrows, low, up the river
a blue heron standing ankle- deep in the creek, a freshly caught trout dangling from its bill
golden eagles skirmishing fifty feet from our home
twin bear cubs peering curiously around the fir tree that they cling to like koalas
the lithe saunter of a cougar along the creek- bank, the tip of its long tail curled in a question mark
splashes of blue lupine, paintbrush, white dogwood and trillium
small jewels of calypso orchid, and ominous- appearing ginger blossoms
the clean, swift river, in all seasons
aromatic, sticky leaf caps from cottonwoods, brought in on the fuzzy bloomers and feet of our cats
the cyclical aspects of life- seasonal, yearly, a lifetime- strongly affect our existence and experience here.
The key to surviving here is that one must be able to cope with nearly all of the work, or emergencies, that the isolation forces upon you. You learn many skills you may not have imagined you’d need. And it is wise to be very careful about safety and health, as a sound body is required for successful coping.
A major lesson I’ve learned is that big jobs as well as small can be accomplished by taking them one small step at a time until the work is done: woodpiles to be moved, firewood to be chopped; garden beds to be dug, planted, tended, harvested, cleaned up; food to be processed and bread baked; quilt tops to be pieced and quilted; snow to be shoveled, snowfall after snowfall- and on and on.
Another intriguing aspect of Stehekin life is how individuals and families move in and out of the community. The lifestyle suits many for only short periods – as a breather, perhaps. Some make the valley their permanent home; other, a retirement location as long as they can cope.
With so few people living here, community participation becomes important. We grow through serving as officers and participants in organizations like the school board and the community council, plan entertainments and activities for the whole age range in the community, and depend upon each other for support of all kinds. Yet we also have the opportunity to live very private lives, even in such a small valley.