Inspiration: We Took To The Woods

Here is yet another book about living in the woods: We Took to the Woods by Louise Rich Dickinson.

I first read this book only a few months ago, at the recommendation of a friend who has been re-reading it annually for years. It is a real life description of the author's life in rural Maine in the late 1930s. She, her husband, their small son and a hired man live so deep in the woods that there isn't a road to their cabins. In the summer they take a boat to pick up groceries, in the winter they drive an old car on the frozen river. Twice a year, during freeze-up and break-up, they're stranded.

While the Riches don't do a lot of homesteading-type things–no farming, very little hunting, and only a modest bit of gardening–the isolation and wildness of their location present them with plenty of interesting situations, and it was beyond informative to read about it. More than anything I think it gave me a sense of being in a truly old-growth woodland. There are few, if none, of those left in the United States right now. The woods that I regularly walk in was cleared land a hundred years ago. It looks nothing like The Settlement‘s forest must look.

One last detail: there was a lumber camp near the Rich’s house, so for much of the year there were lumberjacks nearby. She describes life in the camps, and notes that the men had Sundays off, and on Sundays “those big enough and tough enough to get away with it knit on socks.” Well indeed.

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