After four months in Italy, we’ve finally returned to the yurt. If our first trip out to the property is any indicator, reentry into the North Fork atmosphere is going to be bumpy.

The first part of the driveway, which we share with two other landowners, has welcomed the tidy sweep of a plow all winter. Not so for our abandoned stretch. But that’s no problem, we reasoned. We’ve got brand-new all-terrain tires on this beast. Let’s go for it. Compared to the toy cars we’ve been driving since November, the Expedition should be able to move earth if we want it to.


Earth maybe, but not fresh snow on top of old ice.

Eight feet past the hump of plowed snow we managed to summit, we were stucker than stuck. After trying every trick in the book to dislodge us, Chris gave up. “Guess we’re gonna have to get John,” he said. Thankfully, our friend was just up the road constructing a log cabin. “I can help with that,” John said with a broad smile.


Minutes later he appeared with his dually pickup truck, a tow chain, and shovel. As he worked the snow out from around the tires, we told him about our trip and asked how things had been on the North Fork. “Well, we’ve only been back since last week,” he said with a chuckle. “Last year we came back earlier and I asked Joyce, ‘What in the world are we doing back here already?’ It was weeks without sunshine, just day after day of gray.”

In Todi we had the same thing. Much of the time we saw either light fog, thick fog, medium fog, rain, hail, snow, or some combination thereof. There were nice days too, but they were about as common as a cat who doesn’t claw furniture (our welcome-home gift from Smokey and Bosworth was a set of shredded chairs). So we were grateful that on this day the sun was alone in the big sky, making the blanketed fields look like God had dropped a bag of glitter.


“Here ya go.” John handed Chris a thick rusty chain to fix to the Ford. “Try it in reverse first.” John hopped into the dually and hit the gas. Our rig popped back a few inches and then sat right back where it was, stubborn as a mule. John’s wheels spun. Our wheels spun. Then John shoveled more and Chris put it in neutral. Still no purchase.

The men cut the engines, and we all stood around wondering what to try next.


Then, like a waiter after last call, Ed pulled down the drive. “Here’s the man you need,” John said. A full-time North Forker for decades, Ed’s the kind of guy who has all the big-boy toys. He can get you out of a pickle—and tell you just exactly how and why.

“Those are street tires you got on there, John. No wonder.”  Up here, nothing happens until you’ve had a nice long chat, and so we commenced catching up, telling stories about Italy, and learning about the Elk Foundation banquet and Ed’s cabin, which he’s building himself. Finally, Ed put his truck where John’s had been and carefully gave it the gas. Presto chango, the Ford was free.


Our stupid mistake righted for the day, we decided we’d better just hike it in. Too bad we’d left the snow skies and snow shoes in the garage back in Whitefish. Our brains just aren’t in North Fork mode yet, where you need to think ahead, be resourceful, and always have your Plan B on standby.

We’ve gotten soft. Running water (hot!), a gas stove and oven, paved roads, wine cheaper than bottled water (really), bidets, and even towel warmers have spoiled us.

“How on earth are you going to transition from an elegant villa to a yurt with no running water and a composting toilet that only sort-of works,” a friend recently asked me.

Good question.

15 thoughts on “The Welcoming Committee

  1. It looks beautiful and I am glad there are people around to help out. I wonder if we are going to see spring anywhere soon. The inside of the yurt looked very cozy but a cabin would be better.


    1. Working on that. In the meantime, I’m actually looking forward to some cozy nights there with the cats, a fire in the woodbox, and hopefully some elk outside the window. Got lots of wood in the wood shed. Phew!


  2. I question leaving any place where the wine is cheaper than bottled water. 🙂 Your pictures are terrific and I always look forward to your posts. You are a gifted writer.


  3. It looks super cold but sunny. Sounds like you already have a helpful community in Polebridge. I love that you live in a round abode. It is the most pleasing shape to the eye after all!


  4. Monica, Chris, Smokey and Bosworth:
    Happy you are home surrounded by such beauty and good, hearty friends who know what to do in a pinch. I can smell the good food from here, and, of course the cozy fire. Wishing you great walks, lots of Elk, good reads and bubbly like the brooks on the land. Hugs to the two four-leggeds, too. The Earth loves you.


    1. Thanks, Annie. Hugs to you too! Hope the garden planning is coming along. Looks like we have a long wait ahead of us before we start digging in the dirt. Right now, we’re busy digging out of mud, mud, and more mud. Clay at that.


  5. I am so glad you are back!!! I am from Italian heritage and wish to live in a yurt. You have best of both of my worlds. Thanks for your writing. I so look forward to it.


    1. Thank you, Donna. Yurts and Italy: definitely different worlds in most ways, except for both being fun and frustrating, all at the same time.


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