Sometimes I find myself wondering “how did we come to walk this path…out in these high hills, surrounded by dirt, removed from the green landscapes and comforts we grew up knowing”? My husband and I left our families some twenty years ago, left our homelands and all we knew. Our life here is simple and humble. We have little technology in our home, our children are schooled by us. Most repairs, childcare, housework, we take care of. We have modeled our lives this way, not exactly deliberately, but all the while conscious of our decisions. We live in a community where these values are not only supported, but also lived in real time. I suppose I admired my great grandmother and her pioneering ways. I watched as she hand washed ziplock bags to save money, and regularly got her shotgun out to protect herself from water moccasin snakes, well into her 90s. She survived the Dustbowl and the Depression. Homesteading was a way of life, stemming from survival and necessity, not from privilege or philosophic ideals. Here in our little mountain home, modern comforts have been exchanged for something like what my great grandmother had, something intangible, which comes in the form of sweat labor and the freedom which it brings. It may appear to be arduous to live this way. Our gratification is not instant, but in some way we are compensated with a treaty between the heavens and us. Many days I wonder why we would chose to live this way. Sometimes I have no answer, and the question itself is unclear. Many times it doesn’t even feel like a choice. And on some clear days the question alone can become my resolve. But, today as I look into my children’s eyes I feel closer to understanding our journey, in a spark of mysterious clarity or insight. In this simple world I can see the vastness of the stars, I can hear the wind blow through the tall pines, I can feel the grit under my nails, and I can eavesdrop on my soul. I am on a pilgrimage which doesn’t reside in the comfort zone. This constant state of creating is where I thrive, it is a pioneering of the soul. I own my life, and that is a reward in itself. In this modern age our lifestyle is a privilege, and for this I am grateful.