Autumn is setting in upon the ever smoky Bitterroot Valley. Wildfires still smolder on all fronts, but they aren’t gaining ground like they were. The weather is getting cooler, and hopes remain high that the end of the smoke is near. Growing up in the mountains of Colorado I experienced wildfires as a part of summer life, but never anything like this. We have been here for more than a month now, and there hasn’t been a single day without smoke.
Along with the end of the summer comes the end to our extended post-Antarctic vacation, and the start of our job search. The idea of going back to a ‘normal’ job is somewhat intimidating after our adventures in the deep south, but the excitement of new opportunities and regular pay checks is undeniable. For now we are enjoying having our time as our own by making things, eating well, and loving each other. Every meal is an occasion, eaten outside with fresh beer or a glass of wine. I’ve been growing my birding hobby into our newfound domestic life by working on the landscaping of the property we live on, creating habitats more natural and appealing to our local avian buddies. Together, the three of us sit on our porch at sunset, watching the birds happily dine on an easy meal. It is a full and happy life.
It’s been difficult not to feel sequestered at times with the oppressive, never-ending smoke generating from the Sawtooth Fire. It’s been easy to feel a little envious of those already back down in Antarctica, wearing costumes, enjoying the best dance parties in the world, and basking in the soft glow of nacreous clouds. But then I focus on what we’re doing, what we’re eating, what we’re creating, and I feel content.
Meals take front and center as we make cookies, zucchini bread, rye bread, french onion soup, slow cooked pork, barbecued pizza, homemade spaghetti sauce, etc. I love our process of preparation, cooking, then cleaning up, and the ways in which we delegate these tasks. Nothing feels like a chore, as being able to clean after one self rather than a slew of Antarctic firemen is such a joy. Cornelia constantly makes us giggle as she continues to grow and seems to develop another new naughty antic daily. We look for jobs while enjoying what may be dwindling hours of free time. We explore new creative ventures, like woodworking, wood-burning, linoleum block cutting, wire work. Any day that seems slightly less smoky is embraced with hiking, biking, and strolling around town.
Our relationship started as a smash-bang of all-the-time-togetherness at the bottom of the world. We worked together, dined together, lived together, watched Emperor Penguins together. And then we traveled together. We faced all of the biggest relationship challenges right up front. As we settle into this new stationary life, we’re discovering new challenges we haven’t experienced before. It feels really weird to not go to the same job, to run errands alone, and to delegate closet space. Things like deciding who will scoop the kitty litter are foreign to us, but in some way feel like a great new adventure.