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Saturday, February 22, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  Outdoors

Ammi Midstokke: One day working in snowstorm mocks the fallacy of convenience

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 I bought my granite hilltop some years ago, my family stared with gaping jaws at me and asked, “Have you gone mad?” If so, I’d blame it on them anyway.

I had grown up much the same way, with the added challenge of poverty and freezing pipes. When my dad saw my funky straw bale cabin, he saw all the impossible work it would take to keep the place up. I’d have to get firewood and split it, and the saw blade would get dull and then the saw would get stuck. Probably, I’d cut my leg off trying to get it back out. And if I thought all of that yard work was hard before, just try it with a peg leg.

My brother explained the lore of convenience, city life and plowed streets. I would have to get in the car to go places. No one would stop by anymore. I wouldn’t have any free time because I would be driving back and forth to town. It’s 15 minutes, depending on how long it takes the turkeys to wander off the road.

My mother, more of a dreamer and optimist, was quiet. She saw the same potential and helped me make my down payment on my dream: the sprawling garden, the quiet afternoons, the cozy wood heat, the knitting.

So this morning, when the snow came dumping down and my plans to go for a run and make soup and write my 2020 budget were thwarted by the need to plow, I wondered, “Is this what they meant?” And it wasn’t just making the road tidy. Oh, no. This dump (which is still dumping as I muse) was the kind that had me checking the chains on the ATV, putting on layer over layer of snow gear, hats, hoods, goggles, expedition-grade mittens and a soundtrack. It seemed fitting to plow to a little Van Morrison.

As I headed out the door, I grabbed an angel card from a jar on the counter. It read “Acceptance.”

I straddled the ATV as the Brown Dog sprinted laps in the fresh powder. It was just us and the white wash. We weren’t going anywhere today. I canceled my running plans. I realized I’d probably not write an entire new chapter in my book. I accepted that this was my life today.

It’s a fine life at that. Convenience is overrated.

As far as I can tell, convenience is responsible for things like microwave oven cookbooks, binge-watching TV, going to a gym to stay healthy, and recommendation on screen time limitations. We haven’t really proven to be a species that makes the best use of convenience. It’s responsible for trash, the diabetes epidemic, climate change and PowerBars (which have, at least once, been the reason I swallowed a dental crown which is decidedly inconvenient).

As I hammered on the throttle and snow flew into my face, the heavy trees began to shed above us, sending an avalanche over my furry co-pilot and me. If dogs could laugh, Freya would have burst out along with me as we pondered the hilarity of snow coming at us from all directions.

Hours later, fingers frozen and bottom soggy, we thumped our way into the house. The magical world outside seemed unaffected by our roaring back and forth. Silence was restored and the snow continued to fall. The wood stove was blazing, welcoming us back. The cats came and did figure eights around our feet. I made more coffee on the stove top. I peeled some carrots for a pot of hot soup that would soon fill my belly. While I cannot speak for my dog, I can say that I felt rather accomplished.

Freya let out a long groan as she stretched out on the floor. I sat down at my desk to wrap my head around finances and grammar. And I sang along:

“When no one steps on my dreams, there’ll be days like this …”

Ammi Midstokke can be contacted at

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