By Chuck Nafziger
This is my tenth year here on Peace Lane. I came to the northwest in '67 and watched Seattle turn from green to Gothem. My compass pointed north, but I did not quite have the assets to get a residency in Canada. I loved the Olympic Peninsula, but the heartbreaking obsessive clear cut logging and the festering redneck culture rejected me with my appreciation of peace and my love of the natural world. I had some idea that the area along Hwy 9 might have what I needed so about once a week, I drove up I-5, across the Mt Baker Hywy to 9, and then down 9 to Sedro Woolley looking at real estate signs. When I saw anything remotely interesting, I called the agent listed on the sign and got on her/his email list.
Even though I tried to confine their searches to listings with acreage, what showed up on my email seemed to be mostly suburban homes or decrepit places under powerlines. The plethora of listings around powerlines implies that those places turn over rapidly, probably because they sicken or kill the people living there. I could not filter them from the email posts and made many trips to nice sounding listings only to see the tall monsters buzzing nearby. A friend in my art community suggested I check out the Edison Eye on one of my forays. I was not totally comfortable in the open space in Skagit Valley, but I contacted a real estate agent to find out the going price per acre of land, and got on his email list. Two things in my dreams of a perfect place were cedar trees and water.
I soon realized that my purpose in life is to protect the big cedars around me: I told them I would try to keep them safe for 20 years. If I make it that far, I will be 80 and possibly not able to keep up this place. Some of the trees here are about four feet in diameter and probably about 100 years old. Enormous stumps out back are 15 feet in diameter and show the magnificence of what was once here and what should be here in the future. The fellow from whom I bought this place was glad to see that I was not going after the quick buck by hacking down big trees to pay for the title. I think it is crazy to move into the woods and then cut them down. I understand some cutting for safety, light, and firewood, but not full scale clearing. I believe that if people want cleared land, they should buy cleared land. Old trees like the ones around my cabin are only teenagers in tree years, but they are older than me and they are sacred.
It was mean and stupid of the loggers to cut all the big trees and not even leave one or a few of the elders. They cut into their own hearts by clearcutting. @$#%! the money for the last big tree. One neighbor who lives in a manufactured home on a clearcut property once asked me if I had any idea of the value of the "timber" out back. I told him it was not “timber,” these were trees.
If it is an "alternate lifestyle" to love the Earth and respect it as my home, consider me as alternate. I thrive with the "very private" part of this home. I think humans who trash the Earth around them are crazy. Many of them think I am crazy. The 0.4 miles of gravel lane from the main road to "my place" make it easier on all of us.