One friend gave us three months, another figured E’s health would send us back to the city before five years. We didn’t really know what to expect of the life we would have but it had been a dream of ours since our honeymoon and the simplicity of retiring to a townhouse was not working.
So, nine years ago today, in the pouring rain we moved to the complicated life that it is living off grid on an island. It is raining again today, but we are warm and happy and frankly a little surprised that nine years have passed. One friend came to see it nine years ago and has never been back, other friends love their time here and return to help with our projects. It isn’t for everyone and we get that. It certainly helps that we enjoy each other’s company because we are together all day every day.
The original cabin was owned by friends of E’s Dad. They were heartier souls than we are and had a cook stove , no running hot water and very few conveniences. It was a really sweet cabin down a windy path at the edge of a cliff on 2.2 acres. We instantly fell in love with it but immediately added a Bosch on-demand hot water system, a Pacific Energy air tight stove and an additional 1000 watts of solar panels. Our needs may be simple but we were too old to live without hot water, a warm fire in the winter or the NHL. Access to ice cream is always a challenge but we have learned to accept that in life we must carry a certain burden of suffering.
Fortunately the previous owners were gardeners and I was gifted with 22 years of composted soil and a garden brilliantly placed between two rock cliffs which block the wind and increase the heat. The owner specialized in growing Lilies and, although it was a fairly simple layout, it was surrounded by excellent deer fencing, and the deciding factor in our purchase of the property. I was just so unhappy without a garden in the townhouse.
The first order of business was to rototill the ground and the second was to install a seating area. For the life of me I do not understand people who have gardens with nowhere to sit. Whatever is a garden for if not a place to enjoy the sights and sounds which the flowers bring? Yes, I know, food. Gardens can be just a place to grow food but even a vegetable garden needs a place to rest while tasting a fresh tomato.
We then added a porch to the garden shed and pathways and a pond and now an arbour and a greenhouse. I love my time in the garden and E certainly enjoys his pond! I am forever grateful to and think of the previous owners often when I dig into the beautiful soil they left me.
Our third year here we hired John to put in a driveway down to the house with his excavator. Guests (grandchildren) could then safely get down the hill to our house with boulders at the edge to prevent unintentional cliff diving. If need be we can now drive to our door, although we rarely do.
Our fifth year here we started the big renovation of the cabin. I needed a deck where I could watch the wildlife and was desperate for a bathtub in a guest friendly bathroom. Our original bathroom was in our bedroom so guests would have to walk past our bed during the night to have a pee.. There is a gorgeous outhouse with the best view in the land but it is on the edge of a cliff and not appealing to my city slicker friends at 4 am. E wanted a house with foundations and a deck where we could entertain but the man appreciates a good soak in the tub as much as me.
We sold our share in the family home here on the island and with the design help from Tom, the construction skills of Craig, and a lot of help from friends and family we were left to live the rest of our days in our dream home by the sea.
So many of our old friends have asked us what it is we do all day. I thought it might be time for a quick photo tour of how it started and
how its going