My two solo winters at my off-the-grid cabin on First Roach Pond were extraordinary experiences: intensely challenging yet profoundly peaceful, full of hard work and deep rest, rich in wonders and blessings.
As this past summer progressed, I reluctantly came to the realization that there would be no way for me to spend the upcoming winter at my home in the woods. As we all know, the cost of living has risen steeply. And I haven’t found a way to generate income while I’m staying at my cabin.
I initially felt a bit disappointed when it became clear that a third winter on First Roach Pond would not be an option. But upon further reflection, I’m feeling that life is calling me onward to the next stage of my journey.
Where will my path take me? If I could answer that question with certainty, life would cease to be an adventure. I recall a solo hike a few years back. I followed a rugged, rocky trail along a ridge above treeline, slowly pressing forward through a windy cloud that enveloped my way. I couldn’t see very far ahead. At times I could just barely make out the next blaze or cairn guiding me toward my goal, but that was enough to keep going. The words of an old hymn became unexpectedly literal: “lead thou me on….I do not ask to see / the distant scene, one step enough for me.”
At this point, my next step is a three-week sojourn at Green Mountain Monastery in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, home to the Sisters of the Earth Community (http://www.greenmountainmonastery.org/). The work of the monastery grows from the teachings of environmentalist-priest Thomas Berry. Father Berry understood Earth — and the cosmos — as an ever-evolving expression of God’s infinite creativity, and humans as members of a larger community, the sacred community of all life.
As part of the monastic experience, I will disengage from the mainstream practice of electronic hyperconnectivity. For the next three weeks, I will be limiting my Internet access, and will refrain from posting on social media. I ask for your understanding and patience if I don’t immediately respond to an email or a Facebook message.
I’m very grateful for this opportunity to explore a new way of being, and I look forward to the insights my time at the monastery will bring.
An eagle update:
Long-term readers may recall that I’ve been monitoring an eagles’ nest, built in a tall pine on the north shore of the peninsula where my cabin sits. In 2021, a resident eagle pair raised a chick there. Then, after the chick fledged, the nest partially collapsed. In April of this year, I was delighted to see that a pair of adult eagles were back at the nest and appeared to be rebuilding. In May, when I went to check on the nest, a single eagle flew in and perched just above it. I had high hopes the second eagle was hidden within, incubating eggs. But those hopes were dashed when the eagle took off and a second bird joined it in flight. I don’t believe a mated pair would ever leave developing eggs unattended.
In July and August, fellow Roach Ponders reported seeing a pair of adult eagles in the vicinity of the nest, but I heard no reports of a chick. In July, when I went to check myself, I didn’t see or hear any activity at the nest. I searched the ground under the nest tree and found two white patches that could have been eagle excrement. However, if the nest were occupied, there should have been many such patches.
A longtime summer visitor told me the nest has been there for more than two decades. I’ve been watching it since 2014. Since then, five eaglets have fledged – two in 2015, one in 2016, one in 2017, and one in 2021. I hope that, in 2023, the nest will once again be home to baby eagles.
Photo: A waxing moon shines above sunset-tinted clouds, viewed from the shore of First Roach Pond below my off-the-grid cabin. The mountains along the horizon are the White Cap range; the Hundred Mile Wilderness section of the Appalachian Trail runs along the ridgeline. (October 30, 2022.)