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Every morning I sit in the chair facing east. You can’t really see the sunrise because of all of the trees but I enjoy to watch the subtle changes in the colours and in the sky.
Every morning a flock of great tits (I can´t believe their called that in english, is this true? is google translate mocking me?)… I’ll begin that sentence anew. Every morning a flock of great tits come to my east window to quarrel (I can’t take this seriously. I can’t write about what the great tits do every morning) and eat the nuts.

New beginning.

Every morning I sit in the window facing east. It’s a ritual of sorts. Then I check my mail while the cabin slowly heats and the child watch a movie or snuggle with his dad. There’s a lot of reasons why I’m online and I’m not entirely totally ok with my use of the internet in general but that’s that. Sometimes I’m a viking warrior participating in some kind of rebellion. Sometimes I’m a broken postmodern woman desperately trying to avoid… real life.

The great tits are gone now.

To summarise: First part of the yule calendar was about giving/receiving, buying/selling and the concept of gift. This part of the yule calendar is about community. I’m not entirely totally ok with the concept of community. That’s why we don’t live in a village or in a closer knit community, this is why we live alone in the woods.

On one hand I fall to my knees in respect and admiration of human connectedness when I think of community, human hope, all of the best in us… on the other hand I have serious issues which my post yesterday may have reflected a tiny little bit.

What I have learned so far writing this yule calendar: I need to be better at separating things. What I do as a charity and what I do… expecting some kind of something in return. For instance writing this blog. Is this as a charity? Do I do it for my own sake? Is this a gift? Do I want your loyalty or love in return? What is it? I need to understand this better.
Regarding community: I won’t feel bad for being a lone rider, some people are, we shouldn’t all be the same. On the other hand: This lone rider is lonely. This lone rider can’t do everything alone.

Two things happened by email today while sitting by the east window looking at the subtle changes in colours, looking at the great tits and at observing the frost- and somehow these two things happening by email made so much sense. Kind of like poetic justice that they should happen. Today of all days.

A reader decided to give to me a lot of money. He says I have given him much. He says he´s happy to give to us money, this is only a just exchange he says, we have traded words and realisations, I guess I trade in that.

This is gift economy. There are all kinds of ups and downs regarding gift economy, there are all sorts of challenges and problems, do I owe him now? Is this a fair trade fair? But there is also… a very, very beautiful gift. In it’s own right.
I was worried about the money. Really worried.
There is gratitude and security, there is a sense of worth, that what I do matters.

Then another thing happened too.

I know a woman who lives further north. She’s a bit older and she has lived here much longer. Like us. Off grid, primitive, self-sustained and  all that. She calls this “living on the edge” and she says then you live on the edge you get to explore the topic of dependency.

She’s also says that relationship-wise you need to have very clear agreements and always balance in the accounts (emotionally) even more so than when you live in a place where you can look away or distract yourself. Living like this means that you become each others world. For real. Really.

She’s says that there are two stories regarding us, the people who live like this. There’s the official story, the story we tell those who still live in all that which we left behind. And there’s the real story. She tells me to never stop telling the real story too.

And then we write about winter. How we fear winter. This fear is deeply installed. Winter is not here yet but I know it soon will be. I can smell it in the air. I fear it. I know how it will be. Winter will take it toll.
Beautiful and silent, oh, how I like it when the snow slowly falls, to calm me, to hide the ugly, such a slow beautiful snow. The snow is never the problem. The darkness is. The loneliness.

Winter is not just a season here where I live. Winter is a war. “We made it!” is the sentiment of spring.
Winter is such an existential fact. Such a great event. We made it! We made it!
Only we didn’t. Not just yet.
I tell her my worries. She tells me that I have done this before and that I´m not stupid. She writes with such eloquence. Such strength and clarity.

This woman means a lot to me. I can tell her things (by email because she’s weird like me and don’t particularly enjoy the company of others) that I don’t tell anyone else.
I think she’s a wise woman and I think everyone needs a wise woman in their life. Wise women are needed.

There are many ways to connect. Let’s not forget that.
So many ways – not just one.

That was what I had to say about community this morning.
Here’s a picture capturing exactly how I feel about community


14 comments on “The gift of connecting

  1. BeeHappee (or NOT!) says:

    Andrea, beautiful writing!!!! About tits and all. 🙂 In USA I think they call them chickadees, otherwise it would be too confusing. 🙂
    Nice how you touched upon most relevant things. Money. obligation. payback. loneliness. community. individuality. wisdom. fear. death.
    One good thing about winter – it ends. Some birds fly south for the winter, and some stay. You are strong enough to stay. Makes me think how many in USA flee to Florida or some place south all for the fear of winter. It is coded into us for survival to be afraid of winter. Especially I would think in those Scandinavian climates.
    I love your old wise woman. Made me think of the Sea Witch in the Little Mermaid for some reason. Or that old woman in Anne of Green Gables who lived in the forest with all the herbs, what was her name. . Your life is beautiful. Who else gets to sit there and stare at tits all morning.. . 🙂 had to beat this one to death.
    Keep warm. Hugs.


  2. androidpukes says:

    Yes, we do indeed call them great tits here in the UK. It makes us laugh too. Interesting that they should begin a blog about community. They are very communal birds. Always in flocks. Rarely alone. I love them. They always make me smile. Something about their lollipop shape. I just wanted to thank you for this Yule Calendar. It is a lovely idea. And you write so beautifully. It has inspired me to start writing again after years of failing to do so. It has given me a simple structure on which to hang my thoughts and the discipline of writing every day. I started writing my own Yule Calendar. Initially posting it on Facebook. Now I have begun a blog. I acknowledge my debt to you in my posts and repost your words most days. And here’s the thing – doing this has brought a new community to life. People respond. In ways I never expected. A dialogue begins. Connections are made. People say it helps them. I don’t really trust the digital world but this has made me re-evaluate its value. So, thank you for starting this wave. Maybe, its momentum will help you in your war with winter. I hope so.


    1. This is just wonderful!


  3. Sam Hawkins says:

    Google translate is so wrong to mock – that is the correct English name! Beautiful writing as ever Andrea. xxx


  4. Amy says:

    I like that: “Winter is not a season here. It is a war.” That’s the way it seems here in Nebraska, too. So far this year, winter has been easy on us, but I know that it lies in wait. . . and there’s a part of me that fears it, too. Well, actually many parts: my toes, which have been frost-bitten so many times that they ache all winter. My fingers, which aren’t all that handy in the cold, either. Just so grateful for a warm house, a snug chicken coop, and a noisy family or else it would be unbearably long.


    1. Tres Jolie says:

      I used to feel that way in Iowa. Too many times I would be trudging across the field in the bitter cold and wind wrapped head to toe in fur thinking “Tonya Tonya!” (No really and, sorry, it was the only way to survive; the humor had to be ironic.) I wimped out and now live in California. My CA born and bred partner gets cold when it’s 50 degrees. I say Pshaw! You don’t know from cold. Here in semi-arid ranch land I think it is war in summer when there’s no water and the temp is 103.

      Great blog Andrea. I continue to love how you go to the bone. You’re starting to make me think that I could try some more depth and honesty in my own personal blog. But I’m not quite brave enough…. yet.


  5. mridler3 says:

    Your writing is such a gift to me! I can not offer you money specifically in return (although when your book is published in English, I will buy it and encourage others to do the same), but I can offer you appreciation and gratitude for writing/connecting/inspiring! Thank you!


  6. Rick Knight says:

    They’re called “Bushtits” here in the Pacific NW. How’s that for a double entendre? Love your writing!


  7. ncfarmchick says:

    Before my husband and I bought our farm, we seriously considered living in an intentional community (communes, as my parents’ generation calls them.) While I want to believe in the Utopian qualities they promise in theory, there seems to always be problems (often, many) in their execution. Hierarchy, power, responsibility and accountability seem to be the main stumbling blocks. I also think there is a surrendering of some freedom to live in such communities (or any, for that matter) and you have to feel that giving that up is worth the benefits. I imagine fleeing to the woods (which we did, too, but not as far as you have) has much to do with that search for freedom – of space, of mind, from pressures outside yourself. I have feelings of unease, from time to time, that we may not have fled enough. “Civilization” has made threatening noises for a few years now and may sneak in a little too close to us for comfort so we’ll see. It’s funny how, on the one hand, I really believe I would be happy even if my family and I were the only people left on the planet. But, it would be nice to extend our Tribe to include some neighbors and friends who are on a similar path. I mean, we do have friends and family who care about us but there are always those subjects or moments when conversation just stops and you know they just don’t get you. And, they don’t get you in a major way, a fundamental way that puts up a big detour sign in your head telling you you can’t go any farther with that relationship. I suspect this is a pretty common thing but it is something I think about a lot. I certainly never thought I would ever find more like-minded people on the internet than I do in my own physical surroundings but I’ve come to be OK with that and even be grateful. My gift is now going to be to stop leaving such long comments! You get me thinking and I am grateful for that. And we have chickadees and bushtits and even real Winter weather down here in North Carolina though many people would not believe so!


    1. I’ ve heard people begin to talk about the world tribe. More and more are trying to come up with alternatives our challenges always seems to be, in my opinion, this flex between the individual freedom/responsibility/agency and then community. When we first got here it meant the world to me to be able to connect with people throughout the world, sharing experiences and such. It still does. I think the internet can be such a powerful tool used for good- but unfortunately also used a whole lot for bad (survielieance, control ect)


  8. Sofie says:

    Lovely. Does the woman who lives a little bit further north have a blog? For some reason, in the calender you write about matters that have essential meaning in my life these very days.


  9. No I don’t think she has a blog – but she SHOULD have. She should a book and I hope she reads this. Her writing is really spectacular. And these issues, for some reason, means a lot to me too in exactly these times which is why I suspect there IS something about yule. Some good in there… maybe.


  10. Dave chambers says:

    They have tufted tit tyrants in chile.


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