Peaceable Man Files Issue #21: Finding Solitude and Rejuvenation in a Cabin in Breckenridge
Random musings on my gypsy existence at my cabin in the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania and wherever else life takes me.
As I write these words, I’m sitting in front of the fireplace in a cozy little cabin nestled into the pines along the Blue River north of Breckenridge.
It’s five degrees Fahrenheit outside. The flames from the fire aren’t quite enough to warm my feet and I’ve wrapped myself in a blanket.
Outside the windows, dawn is rising, revealing the snow-capped evergreens that surround the cabin on every side. The seeping glow of a clear blue sky fills the spaces amongst the serrated spears of the pines. All is still and soft, not a breath of wind disturbs the scene. I feel like I’m looking at a scene from a Christmas card.
I’m out here visiting with my son and his fiancé who live in Denver. I’ve become a lover of Colorado in the four-plus years since Evan moved out here to take a job after college. I make a point of visiting at least twice a year during the warmer months to do some fishing and hiking.
But traveling has been tough this year because of my hip replacement surgery in June, and so before the year was out, I decided to make a spur-of-the-moment trip the weekend before Thanksgiving.
It actually turned out to be a good time, cost-wise, to visit. The prices for rentals on Airbnb were surprisingly reasonable before the peak skiing season begins. We’re getting this entire two-bedroom cabin for a four-day, three-night stay for around nine hundred dollars, including service fees.
I’m not doing any skiing myself while I’m out here. I used to ski a bit when I was younger, but my aging bones protest loudly these days when I take them out onto the slopes. And so on Friday, while Evan and Emily went snowboarding at nearby Keystone, I spent the entire day at the cabin by myself.
What did I do all day? I wrote by the fire. I took walks. I didn’t see a soul all day and was as happy as a clam in the sand at high water.
A light snow fell through the morning, but then, in the afternoon, the sun came out and the bright blues of the sky against the snow made for breathtaking scenes. I stopped at one point to listen to the gurgle of the stream. The creek was frozen except for a steady sluice of flowing bluish water in the center. I stood, transfixed.
It was a wonderful day. By the time Evan and Emily came back from snowboarding late in the afternoon, I felt refreshed and rejuvenated.
Solitude is a powerfully cleansing force for the human spirit, especially when we’re surrounded by nature. Studies consistently show that spending time alone in nature lowers our stress levels and give our overloaded minds a much-needed break from the constant bombardment of texts, emails, and the 24/7 news articles in today’s digitally connected world.
Going into nature also allows us to drop all the personas that society requires we put on and get closer to our authentic selves. What do trees, rocks, and streams care about what positions or titles we hold? All of that is meaningless when we spend time alone. We have an opportunity to consider who we truly are, beneath all the masks.
We all need solitude. How much we need depends on the individual person. For me and my sensitive nature, I need large draughts of it. When life becomes too busy and I don’t have a chance to go into nature alone, I can feel it. Things don’t flow as easily, like the ice crowding the current of the stream. Life isn’t as enjoyable. I become irritable, less patient with other people and myself.
Today, thanks to my day of solitude, I’m feeling good.
Tomorrow, we plan to do a six-mile winter hike along a nearby snowy trail. It will be a more active day, and a good test of my new hip.
Then on Monday, I head back home to spend Thanksgiving with the family. I’m looking forward to rejoining society, happier and more rested.
For all my U.S. friends and followers, best wishes for a happy, peaceful Thanksgiving holiday. I hope you have time to be amongst friends and count your many blessings.