Mountain Man

I have always been a country girl. I spent most of my childhood out in the woods, climbing trees, swimming in the pond, riding bikes on the trails behind our house, exploring. In the winter, we went sledding, skated on the pond, built snowmen and forts, had snowball fights. My mother wouldn’t really allow us to just sit around the house. If she found one of us inside on a day it wasn’t raining, no matter the temperature, she’d shoo us outside. In her mind, the reason she had moved us out to the rural suburbs was so we *could* have a childhood like this, and it was a shame to waste the opportunity

My husband had a similar upbringing. He grew up in Canada, so most of his childhood revolved around hockey, even in the summer. They joke that their weather is 10 months of winter and 2 months of slow sledding. He handles a canoe expertly, knows his way around the woods, and while he will swim with the family, he prefers his water frozen.

He does, however, like things in his life to be convenient. Where I am very adaptable and accepting of different environments, he prefers his environment to be more orderly. Pharmacies need to be open 24 hours, supermarkets open past 7 p.m., the whole world functioning in the high-tech world he’s grown accustomed to. We are going to have to select our next town carefully so he has the amenities he needs.

But I’ve been longing for an escape from the crush of people, the shuttering closeness of over-population. Living in Chicagoland makes me feel like an overstimulated 2 year old all the time. I can’t take this much input every day. Somehow, I have to clear my senses.

The mountains did that for me. I’m hoping that it does the same for him. I have long suspected the stress my husband experiences would be mitigated by a less-populous environment, fewer people to have to put up with, fresher air and a more temperate surrounding. This weekend is his first opportunity to see real mountains. He is traveling with our 17 year old daughter–oh, won’t THAT be a trip!–to see University of Montana in Missoula. She chose this school for her short list because of their amazing philosophy about the disabled community. Just read the brief introductory paragraph here

and compare it with, say, this university’s introductory paragraph

The emphasis by the second school on “complying with the law” governing disabilities is downright disheartening, but the University of Montana got it right. This is the intoxicating invitation my daughter responded to.

So this weekend, we will see whether the school is everything we suspect it is, and whether my husband is the mountain man I hope that he is. It’s a big step toward our move out to the mountains, and I’m full of anticipation.

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