Living in the Woods...
Today’s Pioneers
Doreyl Ammons Cain

A feeling of loneliness was my first reaction to returning to the woods. After spending 30 years in the metropolis, southern California, coming home to the mountains was frightening at first. I remembered how much I loved the trees, the streams and all the small critters when I roamed these mountains as a child, yet my ability to be a part of the mountains had disappeared.

My first year back home overflowed with activities as Catch the Spirit of Appalachia, Inc.(CSA) made it’s way into being. CSA was a dream coming true for my sister Amy & I and we worked non-stop with school systems and groups performing our storytelling and spontaneous art and facilitating creative workshops. I had little time to feel the loneliness and fear. As time went on these sad feelings did seep through the activities and I began hiking, exploring and finally camping in the woods with my new husband Jerry. As I spent more time in the woods I began to feel like a child again. It wasn’t long until Jerry and I bought land near Bear Lake and started our nature preserve, Nature’s Home Yurt Adventures. Before I even noticed, I became truly connected to the mountains again.

Building Nature’s Home Preserve has taken “pioneer efforts.” We began with nothing but our hands and slowly constructed our Permaculture water and waste recycling systems. We built decks for our yurts (small portable dwellings that were used thousands of years ago in Mongolia) and created a small yurt escape for ourselves and others to visit.

A new dream has taken shape for Jerry and myself gradually and it is called sustainability- the ability to live on the land, recycle back to the land and have a never ending cycle of regeneration.

We are now entering the second phase of our sustainability plan. Developing our own power source, a log cabin and a community garden is part of this. Entering another round of work, we are opening our land up to others who believe in sustainability. Land tracts are now available for people to join us in our efforts. We’d like “today’s pioneers,” who can walk away from the city and it’s amenities and reconnect with their roots.

My Grandpa and Grandma lived in the woods. They were pioneers who made their own way and valued their independence. Their life was tougher than today’s pioneers, yet held an indescribable sense of happiness and togetherness.

Living so close to the way the earth works makes a person healthy in body, mind and in spirit. Once you leave the stress of modern life behind, you don’t ever want to look back. That past life-style becomes a fuzzy reminder of what you don’t want. Life is good in the woods.


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