Some people love the city: the downtown, the bright lights, the action. Some love the suburbs: the manicured lawns, the slick siding, the block parties. Some love house boats. Some love an adobe abode baking in the sunshine. Some love a stately brick home and some love their yurt or their RV.

Point is: we’re all different, aren’t we? We all love a way of life and those ways of life differ. Up here, Up North, there happens to be a lot of wood. Wood that still looks like the original wood as which it began. There’s nothing like wood. The smell of newly cut wood, the feel of smooth, sanded wood, the warm, honey glow of wood varnished or oiled. And there’s nothing like sitting in a little wood house on a late afternoon in the summer in Bayfield County. There’s nothing like the blue of the lake at that same hour. Nothing like the sky above.

My little son wrote this to his teacher in a class journal to tell where he lived: “I live in a wooden house near Bayfield.” Yep, that’s exactly right. He does. True and simple joy. Surrounded by nature, inside and out, it’s a great place to be. Living in a wooden house is pretty much a perfect place. Kids say the darnedest things and often they say them succinctly; they get to the point and cut to the chase.

This particular wooden house was hand-made by its owner. The trees outdoors became the beams indoors; they became the railings and the floors. This is a man who would love Ma Ingalls’ saying of “Waste not, want not.” The modern term in use for that today is “sustainability,” I suppose. Sustainability is the idea of avoiding the harm or depletion of natural resources and therefore supporting long-term ecological balance. Balance is a really good thing if you can achieve it. And this is a home where it happens—usually. Because sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it’s a stretch. If only we had a river on the property and a homemade waterwheel for electricity, maybe we’d be set. But what would we do in the winter, you ask? Good question. We’d need a cow, too.

This is not a new idea — ask any aboriginal or indigenous people about that; ask any pioneer or any pre-Industrial Revolution folk. Oh, it can be done — one just can’t “live large” so to speak, especially not in the modern sense; but one can live large in the old fashioned sense. Hmm, I do really like my washing machine, though, and my TV. They are not made of wood nor are they helpful to the environment. The computer I am typing this on is not either. These are just a few of our modern dilemmas. One has trouble dropping out entirely of modern society if one wants to survive or watch the British Baking Show. Except for Henry David Thoreau, he did OK. He wasn’t addicted to anything on Netflix, though. See how it is?

But you can mostly get back to nature if you try, achieving a sort of balance if you work at it. You can work out on the land instead of at the gym, you can produce your own produce, you can make and grow things yourself, you can lower your usage of all things extraneous, and you can bake your own goods just like they do on the Baking Shows; just like Ma Ingalls did. You can live a life of luxury if you simplify; if luxurious sunrises are your thing, if luxurious chunks of time to yourself trip your trigger, if luxurious swaths of trees, of water, of solitude, and of sky float your boat. Luxury is defined as “the state of great comfort or extravagant living” I think that definition should include “no stoplights” and “living in a wooden house” That’s Bayfield County luxury. I do believe a knothole just gave me a wink in reply.

“This is a delicious evening, when the whole body is one sense, and imbibes delight through every pore.”

from Walden

Henry David Thoreau

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