Our son Tony, his wife Cammie, the two-year old Connor and the nine-month-old Christopher just completed a visit to our new mountain home in Oregon. It was obvious they loved it.
They also liked the historic community of Jacksonville. In fact Cammie raved about the town. I was surprised, however, when she asked Peggy why we hadn’t chosen to live there instead of at our more rural retreat in Applegate Valley.
On one level, I understand the question. It is great to have good restaurants, cultural opportunities such as the Britt Festival, a library, a variety of shops and a grocery store all within walking distance. Finding such a place is rare in our world of urban sprawl.
My ancestors apparently liked the community; I have Great Grandparents buried in the cemetery overlooking the town and a related family, the Colvigs, owned a home there that is now on the National Historic Registry.
But there are also inherent values connected to living in the woods. Peggy quickly related them to Cammie and assured her that I hadn’t forced my lovely wife into a world of isolation. (Jacksonville is only a short 30-minute commute away from our home plus it is a beautiful drive. There are no clogged freeways.)
I was thinking about Cammie’s comments last night as I stood outside our house and looked up at the Milky Way. It’s a view you rarely get in urban areas or even small communities. The bright lights and pollution hide the stars. I could hear the Applegate River rushing by the front of our home and some small animal rustling around in the bushes behind me.
Earlier in the day I had given Connor a wheelbarrow ride up to the back of our property so he could say ‘bye-bye’ to the deer that hang out there. He’d been up to visit them several times. The herd comes down from the Rogue National Forest that forms our back property line. They are eager for Peggy to put in a garden.
Connor also waved goodbye to the swing that Tony and I had put up for him in a White Oak.
We had carefully surveyed our property looking for the perfect swing tree and a future tree house site. With over a hundred White Oaks on our five acres plus Douglas Fir, Red Cedar, Ponderosa Pines and Madrones there are numerous options.
Don’t get me wrong about Jacksonville, we could live there quite easily and may someday. But for now, our retreat in the woods with its beautiful views, abundant wildlife, national forest and rushing river is exactly where we want to be. It’s a place that we are eager to share with family, friends and children.
And it is a place where our grandchildren can come and wander through the woods to their heart’s content. It was this freedom and the introduction to wilderness that I loved most about growing up in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. I can’t think of a better gift to give to our newest generation.