Me, Stillwater, 2015

Me, Stillwater, 2015

For a long time, I’ve been telling myself I should keep an online diary of life here at Stillwater. We’ve lived  here a couple of years now, and while our lives are quiet, they’re full of little moments of magic and peace, plus occasional adventures with wildlife.

A black Abert's squirrel - my favorite Stillwater critter

A black Abert’s squirrel – my favorite Stillwater critter

For those who don’t know me, here’s some background.

In September of 2012, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. What followed was the usual trifecta of treatment – surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Once it was over, I decided it was time to do all the things we’d been talking about for years. Number one on the list was to move to the country.

We’d looked at quite a few places over the years, but none were quite right. This time, we stumbled on Stillwater, and knew we’d found home. We hadn’t wanted to look at the place originally, because the photos of the house on Realtor.com didn’t appeal to us. But we were in the area, and our real estate agent insisted we just stop by.

We didn’t have a key, so we couldn’t go inside. But the moment we stepped into the back yard, we knew we’d found home.

The house sits at the opening of a little canyon formed by a meandering creek. On one side, there’s a rugged red granite wall; on the other, a hillside scattered with boulders and decked out in Ponderosa pine, wildflowers and sage.

The backyard

The backyard

The day we first saw it was misty, and the world seemed to grow quiet as we took in the scenery. The damp weather brought out the scents of sage and pine, and the mist made the canyon look deep and mysterious, as if adventures awaited us there. The only sounds were faint birdsong and the burble of the creek.

The cliff above the Still Water

The cliff above the Still Water

Below the cliff was a pool of dark water surrounded by wildflowers that reminded me of the “happy place” I’d drifted off to during my treatments. Beside it sat a bench, ready for dreaming, planning and just being. We immediately named the place Stillwater for that peaceful backwater.

Above the Still Water rose the cliff, and on the other side of the stream a wooded hillside led to The Fort, a circle of gigantic stones that has become our own personal “Stillhenge.” A ladder had been placed against one of the rocks so we could climb up and see the incredible view.

We spent the next couple of weeks praying that the house was at least livable, because we’d fallen in love with the land. Fortunately, it was, and we made the decision to buy the place as a second home, a getaway and writing retreat.

The first night we slept here, a storm raged ’round the house. The wind blew so hard it made the windows rattle, and whistled through the rafters as if trying to find a way in. Trees swayed  and danced outside our windows, but a cozy fire kept us warm.

We never spent another night at the house in town. Last year, we sold it and became official full-time residents of Stillwater. I call it my “Life is Short” house, and it reminds me every day to stop dreaming and do.

I’ll try to post often, and provide enough pictures that you can imagine yourself here in the mountains. You’ll meet our pets and maybe some of the neighbors, along with assorted wildlife. And hopefully, I’ll be able to pass on some of the peace and happiness this place brings to me.

The view from the Fort

The view from the Fort

(For more Stillwater, in daily doses, you can check out my Facebook page at Joanne Kennedy Books.