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Wednesday, October 21, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  Outdoors

Ammi Midstokke: When true love is found in the firewood

Ammi Midstokke is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review writing about living off the grid. (The Spokesman-Review / SR)
Ammi Midstokke is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review writing about living off the grid. (The Spokesman-Review / SR)
By Ammi Midstokke For The Spokesman-Review

When you live on top of a mountain with a precious 12-year-old, it’s a little challenging to stay marketable.

My wool socks are usually full of sawdust, there is inevitably some pine pitch stuck permanently to my elbow, and my hair products include two-stroke engine fuel and garden fertilizer.

Some time ago, I was out splitting wood with a friend, discussing just these challenges. The kind of person who might like to live in the woods, chop wood all day and hunt ground squirrels probably does not take time to write online dating profiles. We’d make good speed daters, though. I’d start every conversation with, “Do you carry a pocket knife?” Because utilitarian relationships make far more sense than anything as frivolous as romance.

The kind of history one must have to develop this kind of disordered thinking is summed up nicely in every book written on childhood trauma or the “Little House on the Prairie” series.

“I just want to find someone who likes splitting wood,” I said. Charlie took another whack at a piece of fir and nodded. I wasn’t being entirely honest. My fantasy husband also shares an equal disdain for gluten, considers recycling second nature and would never blaspheme butter or coffee. He would expect me to be late, buy me tools and know not to call Search and Rescue until I was a good 12 hours behind schedule.

He would have a strange set of hobbies, like repairing fences, burning brush and greasing hinges. Oh, and refilling my windshield wiper fluid, which is perpetually low because I just assume that some genius invented a way to refill it with rainwater. Why is that not a thing yet?

He would think my Home Depot line of credit is an attractive dowry and know that my love language is filing the chainsaw blade and scrambling eggs. And sparkly things, because I’m still a girl, after all.

What I did not learn about love and partnership in my previous 40 years is that it has far less to do with commonalities, shared value systems, good genes, passion or attachment styles than we are led to believe. Much to my Type A dismay, there are no boxes to check. Everything we think we need in another person is merely a request that they accept us as we are (see above).

We often think that a person must be or do in a certain way to appreciate our idiosyncrasies. We hope they are as weird, broken, flawed and imperfect as we are, and as fond of yardwork and vegetables. We represent ourselves as our best qualities so that they, too, can check the boxes to ensure we meet the criteria, that the good outweighs the bad. That more boxes are checked than unchecked.

But there’s only one box that matters: acceptance. Then you just have to wake up every day and remind yourself to choose acceptance and love even when they suggest putting A1 sauce on a steak. (If you are not sure if you can accept someone yet, just barbecue with them. You’ll learn everything you need to know.) Choose love, not despite these things, but because of them.

When a person who accepts the entire you comes your way, it is obvious. They propose while you’re cleaning up dinner in your gym sweatshirt with the kids. And while you cry and lick fry sauce off your finger so they can put a ring on it, they romantically tell you it’s already been insured, because they’ve accepted that you’re probably going to wear it rock climbing or bush whacking or wood chopping and they don’t want to change a damn thing about you.

Ammi Midstokke can be contacted at

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