AKA: The Professor and the Programmer!
Jim is a professor, and I’m a programmer (although I have also taught at the college level, and Jim is a geek in addition to being a university educator…) We are pretty ordinary folks, for the most part, except that maybe we’re a little insane. If you think about it, a couple of 50-somethings buying a 70 acre forest to work in and tend to really is kind of crazy – but, we’re apparently going to do it anyway!
It’s true that the first time we traveled out to Washington to see the forest in person, we were completely overwhelmed. We were so daunted by its size that we even spent a couple of days questioning whether we really wanted to buy this property or not. It’s one thing to look at a map, and a satellite view, and a plat drawing and a few pictures taken by Jim’s awesome family on our behalf before we were able to get enough time off to get out there and see it ourselves – but it’s quite another to actually BE there. To actually see how big the trees are (we estimate many which were in the last round of logged areas are 60 feet tall already and some of the trees that were not logged are even larger!) and how many of them are jam-packed into that 70 acres of land. To drive and drive slowly for several minutes along the northern road and know that we were still within the bounds of the property lines. To see acres and acres of wild and vicious Himalayan blackberry vines and know that there was no way we were ever going to beat those areas into submission. In fact, there is no way we are going to “tame” even more than just a portion of this land. It just isn’t going to happen.
Not that we wanted to turn the whole place into nothing more than a well-groomed park, mind you – but we did have some (rather unrealistic) notions of restoring most of it to native vegetation and putting in an extensive set of ATV and foot trails. After seeing the forest in person, we’ve scaled back those plans to something we feel is probably a bit more realistic. We’ve accepted now that this forest isn’t just a “big back yard” – it is a wild place. And it will continue to be a wild place. We are making our peace with that fact and are now looking for ways to work with that wildness, and trying not to work so much against it. We will definitely have more controlled and cultivated gardens and sitting areas near the house, and we will also have some trails to allow us to get into the interior areas and forage and harvest and do what restoration we can – but the scale of that work will be no where near what we originally dreamed of doing. And really, that’s okay, because a large part of what draws us to this forest is its wild beauty.
One of the coolest aspects of this change in our lives is we will be able to enjoy this new home in the forest every day, because at least to start, we will both have jobs that allow us to work remotely – Jim will be teaching university level philosophy courses online and I will be programming remotely for an educational software products company. So we’ll each have our own little home office off the main house and very little commuting to do on a daily basis (the teenage son will need to be shuttled back and forth to school until he can get his driver’s license and a car, but that should only be a 10 mile trip each way.) We’re planning to orient the house so the home offices will both have a good view. It will take a lot of work to sell our current home, cull through all the “stuff” and move what remains to Washington state, but I can hardly wait to get there!