Hermit life: Beginning of our second year at Clayton Lake


It doesn’t seem possible, but we are five days into year two here at Clayton Lake. Some days in the woods have dragged, but the year has flown by! It has been one of the most challenging but we are stronger for it.

I chuckle when I think of the fears/concerns I had before we took that first ride down Realty Road. Keeping fresh groceries stocked, the condition of the road, medical emergencies/sickness, boredom, flat tires, weather, our general state of well being…..all things that were scary a year ago, but have become a part of our every day life.

Groceries                                                                                                                                 My first trip in to Clayton Lake, I had no idea what it would mean to shop and cook for my family for a week without the option to go to the store (which obviously there is that option to drive to Ashland, but if possible, it is avoided until necessary). After a year of adjusting grocery lists, getting more organized, and learning the shelf life of foods, I am much more confident.

One thing that wasn’t originally a concern but became one very quickly was the space we needed to haul these groceries with a dog, a cat, and two little boys. Thankfully, we started our second year of hermit life with a bigger vehicle. The extra space has already made a world of difference.

When we moved in last fall, we had planned on having two refrigerators. One did not work and the other one was 3 feet tall. We went almost a whole year with the small one and now that the broken one has been replaced, I’m not sure how we managed with just the one for all that time.

Not everyone loves time in the kitchen, but it is my favorite place in the house. The past year I have had the opportunity and responsibility to cook for the Ackley boys. To have the time to play with and try new recipes is a luxury in my eyes, and it’s also my job! When you don’t have eating out as an option, new things have to be tried and creativity is boredom’s worst enemy. I’ve learned to stretch food items as far as they will go, which is no easy feat living with my guys. They are not at all fond of leftovers.

Road Conditions                                                                                                                     My fears were quickly set aside after my first couple of times in and out of the Realty Road. When they’re bad they’re bad, when they’re good they’re good. It is what it is and most times we know what to expect. I am, however, probably more afraid of driving with the log trucks now than I was last year at this time. It took almost a year to have to drive into a ditch to avoid one, but that one time was enough. This year I will try my very best to only travel the road on a Saturday or Sunday.

Sickness                                                                                                                                 We have had no medical emergencies and maybe a cold or two so far….knock on wood. Time spent thinking about it? Little to none. If and when that time comes, I pray we will handle it wisely and with finesse.

Boredom                                                                                                                         Aaaah, boredom. A luxury not known by any stay at home mom. We live a very busy woods life with time spent outside or inside playing with anything but our toys, as most children do. Even in the woods I feel like there is never enough time in the day, but if I have a spare minute it might be spent on reading, Pinterest, or my newest hobby…guitar! I have taught myself to play this past year and it’s been refreshing to have something “new” all to myself.

Tires                                                                                                                                     Goodness, I need to learn how to replace a flat tire this year. I was so lucky this past year to not be put in that situation. My dear sweet grandparents helped us out before winter last year with an early Christmas present of 10 ply tires. Before we had those, we definitely had some flats.

Weather                                                                                                                                  Oh, the weather. We all worry and obsess over it even though there isn’t a damn thing we can do about it. My first time ever living this far north, we have actually “enjoyed” the winter weather. It was nice not having to worry about mixed precipitation. If it was going to storm, we were getting snow and that was all. The consistency is a nice change. It was shocking to see how hot it got up here this summer.

State of well being                                                                                                                    Overall, I feel that we might be better suited for this hermit life than most. We have come to appreciate the time that we have alone with each other and sometimes crave it when we leave the woods. Are we happy? Are we content? The majority of the time we are….when we are not, we are missing family. 🙁

This summer we had a crazy schedule filled with lots of trips Downeast, almost too many. A visit away more than once a month is too much. I have found any more time away than that leaves me craving a life that isn’t mine.

My daily life is quiet, simple, and secluded. It won’t be my forever, but it is my right now. Even after a year of missing family and surviving mud seasons, a long winter, and a hot summer, I still struggle with the thought of leaving the woods. There are moments when I feel that I’m ready to leave. But during those moments if you told me I could leave tomorrow, the tears would start to fall, and they would not be tears of joy. Conflicting…and such is life.

Rianne Ackley

About Rianne Ackley

I grew up in Downeast Maine but have recently relocated to the North Woods. I live in Clayton Lake where I am a stay at home Mom to two beautifully wild little boys and wife to a Maine State Game Warden. I am a lover of the simple things in life...a good book, a song, a rainy day, a bowl of white popcorn, etc. I have a slight obsession with all things food. Love cooking it, eating it, looking at it, smelling it, reading about it, etc. I am a firm believer that life is what you make it.