Sea to Snow

Spring Snow, Teton Village May 1, 2013

Spring Snow, Teton Village May 1, 2013

Can I live a simple life with my husband and two kids in a world of chaos, complexity, consumption and cold?

It’s time to find out.

After two years living simply on a tiny tropical island (see my Bahamas blog, Light Living), we knew it was time to leave our seaside Paradise and return to the Outside World. We loved our sunny island life but our children needed more educational opportunities.

The question was… where should we go?

Out of the blue an idea popped up. At first I dismissed it with a shudder. But it kept worming its way into unrelated conversations, and appearing in weird synchronicities. Then it stuck…

Why not leave our toasty tropical paradise and move to one of the coldest places in the continental US? Why not move to Jackson Hole, Wyoming?

Yeah, why not?

Well, as it turns out, there were a couple of really good reasons…

First of all we’d never been there before. Second we don’t cope well in the cold. Third you can’t just wear tank tops and shorts every day in the mountains. We would need more clothes. More stuff. What would happen to my new simple living lifestyle? And what exactly is that lifestyle anyway?

For me simple living means stripping away stuff and streamlining my schedule. It’s not about austerity. It’s about creating abundance: an abundance of gratitude for the little things in life, and an abundance of time to do the things I love.

But could I live this philosophy in the mountains with freezing winters, mega-stores and gear-intensive sports?

Let’s just say I was up for a challenge. And for some reason, moving to the mountains felt right. So we decided to surrender and Go with the Flow. The more we researched the area, the more there was to like:

1.)  Excellent schools

2.)  Skiing

3.)  Fly fishing

4.)  Stunning scenery

5.)  Bears!

So in April 2013 we found ourselves driving into Jackson Hole in an old Land Cruiser, with eight bags, two stir-crazy kids and our geriatric cat.

It was mud season, that awkward time of year when skiers depart en masse, the snow melts and the valley turns into a bleak canvas of browns and grays. It was drizzling when we arrived. And it was cold. Ass-numbingly cold. Gone were the vibrant tropical colors: the turquoise water, the apple-green sea grapes and the fiery Poinciana trees. Gone were the long hot days and balmy nights. Instead we had short dark days, snotty noses and sleet.

Soon I used up my entire suitcase of clothes, wearing them all at once just to keep warm. Layer upon layer. We had to buy gloves, scarves, hats, coats and even (gasp) thermal underwear. And this was spring. I gotta be honest. Mud season sucked.

Oh, Bahamas, where are you? I silently screamed. Take me back!

At night I dreamt I was on a deserted beach again, sprawled in the sparkling sunshine, sipping my coconut rum punch under a palm tree.

And then something amazing happened…

On May 1, we awoke to six inches of fresh snow. I gazed out the window in shock. The snow glittered in the sun like a trillion diamonds flung on a blanket of the purest white. The Tetons towered into a cornflower blue sky, snow dust twirling from their peaks. Red robins ruffled their feathers on white-iced aspens. My jaw dropped. This was a different kind of beauty. Dazzling, bright and bare.

A few days later my husband and I packed our fly fishing gear and strolled along the Snake River. Casting out the line, we noticed two twitching ears behind a bush about 100 feet downriver. As we looked closer we saw that the ears belonged to a moose lying on the pebbly bank, peering out at us with gentle eyes. A few minutes later a beaver popped up in front of us, slapped his tail on the water and disappeared below. Then, as if nature had arranged a spectacular show just for us, we watched in awe as an osprey plunged into the river and plucked out a trout.

Simple pleasures. Abundant gratitude.

So can we live a simple life in the Outside World? We intend to stick around and find out.

Join me as I share my money-saving, simple-living tips and my gratitude for the little things in life.

Live light and live happy,

Karen