The first winter we spent in here, in 1976, was one of the more dreadful winters we had experienced. It was during those years when we had gone back into a cold weather cycle, and it took us broadside. Temps went down to -20 and stayed there, and zero was considered a warming trend. We had only green oak (never trust avuncular wood guys, they dont hear what you need; they hear what they think you need) to burn for most of the winter, and the parlor stove I guilted my mother out of. The dog would wake me in the morning, barking ferociously at his water dish, which had frozen solid over night. He was never a fan of ice, lol.
One of the cats, weary of being cold all the time, royally expressed her annoyance by peeing in the dog's bed, all the way through all the old blankets, staring straight at me the entire time. If she had had a middle finger, it would have been used. Did it for an entire week at 5 am every morning, and then stopped. The point had been made, and she managed to score a few points off the dog, too.
There was no running water, no washing machine, no indoor plumbing. The windows were covered with plastic sheeting to at least keep the wind out a bit. on a windy day it was like living in an iron lung, as the plastic billowed in and out...
I had no driver's license and couldn't leave the house that long anyway, because the kitchen stove was good for three hours, and then it would go out as if it had been switched off. Did I mention the roof leaked?
But. And this is important. Neither one of us ever said, or even thought, this is ridiculous, why don't we just pack it in and go to town? We didn't stay because of the cats or the dog, or because we were so broke we couldn't have afforded an apartment somewhere (which we weren't); it quite simply never occurred to us to leave. There were harder years, and colder winters, but we were more prepared for them, and had learned how to work around the hard parts.
I finally understand that it has become, for us, a meditation. For someone else it might be the neighbor's apple orchard, or the lake you visit every summer with a profound sense of coming home, and the long wait all winter to return. It can even be an avocation (woodworking, pottery, photography...) chosen without the sense of "This instead of That" in the process. "This" you say, solidly, "is what I am, and what I do." It defines you, even as you define it within yourself. For Harry Truman, (the Mt. St. Helen's guy, not the President) it was the mountain. When they came to bring him down from the mountain, he refused. It was his home, he said. I can understand that.
It can also be the land you live on, the house you own. It matters.
my mother in law, the least fanciful of women, once said, 'this is a good place to heal". and she was right.