Tom returned home last night (well, @ 2:00 AM this morning, to be precise) from a week long business (and a little bit of fun) trip to , respectively, Phoenix and Sedona. He was gone Saturday to Saturday, and the week seemed - to both of us - much more like a month! I know one of the big reasons for me was because the "lay of the land" changed so much around here while he was gone. When he left, it was still winter, and the ground was covered. Now there's just a bit of old, dirty snow here and there where it was plowed up into piles. Even the woods are almost clear. And, last night, I drove the scenic "back way" out from our place - the summer route. Granted, the majority of the road had been plowed all winter to a site where they're logging, and, had that not been kept open, I probably wouldn't have been able to get through quite yet due to snow remaining in the shaded/protected areas. But, as it was, the 2 of the total 12 miles that hadn't been plowed was 99% open - definitely drivable.
This was a hard week for me with Tom being gone. It was the first time he's been gone for so long since we moved up here. And, living up here - so, relatively speaking, remotely - is muuuuuch different than living the 25 minutes out of town (and right off the highway) that we did before. Bottom line, living "the simple life" that we've chosen is HARD. There's no letting down your defenses. You have to be "on" constantly. You're either doing chores and taking care of the animals or feeding the wood furnace or whatever. And, if you just don't feel like cooking dinner but you're starving . . . tough toenails. There's no running to McDonald's. And, when it's just you - the nearest neighbor being 13.5 miles away - it, sometimes, gets to be a lot (especially when you aren't feeling well). Tom even admitted, when I was away from home for 3 nights in January to visit some friends in the Cities, "Running a homestead by yourself is HARD work!"
If we had ended up having children . . . that really would have made a huge difference in this kind of lifestyle! I don't know if we could have done it - lived out here. I'd like to think that we still would have, but I know we would have had to amend other choices - like, perhaps, not trying to do nearly all the work on the house ourselves, maybe have only one instead of two dogs, not have as many chickens, etc. - things like that.
And, of course, reflecting on all of this makes us think and talk about the pioneers, and, specifically, the pioneer woman. Whatever might challenge or test me is nothing - NOTHING - compared to what they dealt with. We both feel that the woman's life must have been much, much more difficult than the man's. Keeping the cooking fire going all day - even in the heat of the summer, cooking 3 squares a day, making do with practically nothing (food, supplies, equipment), having who-knows-how-many children unregulated by birth control, caring for each of those children, helping with the chores, more often than not living completely isolated from friends and - certainly - family, hauling water and wood and living without modern conveniences, working from (before) sun-up to (after) sun-down . . . the list goes on and on.
So, in short, the pioneer woman is my hero, and I'm awfully darn glad my hubby's home! :)