I just got back from a wonderful week in the Kootenays, where my older brother lives with his family on their little farm. There were many wonderful things to do like canoeing, catching painted turtles, riding horses, and cycling, as well as simply relaxing with the family and the animals. My brother and his family have a lifestyle that is inspiring for me: they work extremely hard and live close to nature, with a love and reverence for the wilderness and the land. They grow much of their produce, including the biggest, juiciest strawberries I’ve ever eaten. My sister-in-law bakes bread weekly, with sprouted grains and multigrain flour that is milled right at home in their kitchen. They try to support local stores and producers when making food/product purchases. They have a deep understanding of where our food comes from, and they don’t take for granted how accessible most things are for many of us in North America.
Being an avid hunter (and fisherman), my brother has built several tree stands where he can watch the wildlife and plan for hunting season. (He does not fish nor hunt for sport – any game he may acquire is used to sustain his family.) The photo above was snapped from the top of one of my brother’s tree stands, which he built out of fallen trees, and in such a way that the tree it is built in is completely unharmed. It’s difficult to see how high up this is (we estimated around 35 feet, though it felt like more), and I wish that I took a photo of it from ground level to show its magnificence and smart craftsmanship. I have a fear of heights, and this stand is high enough to have caused my palms and the bottoms of my feet to sweat. The tree grows in a valley and opposite of the ladder is a fairly steep decline into the valley (which you can’t help but notice while climbing up the ladder). It amazes me that my brother built this stand. He said, “I had a vision, I made a drawing, and then I built it. I had to do it!” He used pulleys and rope, and all kinds of climbing gear. (Did I mention he’s as strong as an ox? He showed me photos of the pack of logs and lumber he hauled up on his back – so heavy were the loads that the pack tore and required heavy duty repairing.)
Though it was somewhat difficult to overcome my fear of heights, I’m glad that I did. The view was astounding, and the quiet peacefulness of nature was calming (until I had to make my way down, which I did slowly but surely, and somewhat sweatily). 🙂 Since being home, I’ve baked a batch of sourdough bread (with sourdough starter provided by my sister-in-law), I began an exercise routine (also provided by my sister-in-law – she’s as fit as a fiddle!), and I built a clothesline. I feel well-nourished in body/mind/spirit, and inspired beyond words. I have been reminded again: life is what we make it.
And now I’m going to let go of the reins for a bit of a “gloat session”. My brother and sister-in-law are both teachers and basketball coaches. They can run for miles and miles without tiring, and cycle up and down huge hills on mountain passes. They are amazing parents to two awesome teen-aged girls. My sister-in-law has created a self-sustaining ecosystem out of their great, big yard and garden, operating at a degree that would make David Suzuki proud. She recently told my daughter (and my daughter told me that it was the most favourite thing that her auntie has said to her): “Everything has a purpose in this world.” My brother is an appreciator of art, be it literature or classical music. He is a writer of stories – the way he weaves words together tugs at the heartstrings, without the reader even realizing it. He’s a musician, and a songwriter, a cook and a baker, and has a knack for pretty much everything. On top of all of this, he’s currently a part-time student working on a Masters in Education. I’ve looked up to my big brother from the time I was old enough to walk, and I still do. 🙂
My four brothers are all special to me, and one day I’ll write a little something about each of the other three. One thing is certain: I’m one lucky sister. 🙂