By Rachel Womelsduff Gough

RACHEL WOMELSDUFF GOUGH and her family ditched the city for a patch of earth in the Snoqualmie Valley, lovingly named The Birch Path. Cheered on by her husband and two blonde babes, Rachel learns by getting her hands dirty, whether it’s gardening, chicken farming, canning, neighboring, or adventuring with soulmates in wild places. She reads constantly and can’t live without coffee, flowers, and classic mystery stories. She writes at kindredmag.com.

Adventuring together

“I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” —John Muir On a rare sunny Saturday in February, my little family sloughed off its cozy winter sedentariness and donned trail shoes and day packs for a hike in the forest.…

Parenting is an extreme sport

After I graduated from high school, my mom shared that she had cried herself to sleep every night during my senior year. I was angry that we had moved away from my childhood home in Phoenix to a soulless suburb of Seattle, and I acted out in typical but relatively harmless ways—smoking cigarettes on the…

Out of the mouths of babes

My five-year-old daughter awoke from her nap still warm and rubbing the sleep from her eyes. She climbed onto my lap as I sat at my desk, trying to muster the energy and creativity to write something. She asked if she could help, so I told her I needed to write something involving the word…

Pivotal sorrows

I’ve had Mary Oliver’s The Uses of Sorrow rolling around in my head lately. Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift. If you’re anything like me, you’ve had one or two pivotal sorrows that have changed the course of…

Is stuff the stuff of life?

“I believe that consumerism is stealing our money, our time, our resources, and even our identities,” said writer and speaker Sarah Bessey on her blog. “We all have too much stuff. We aren’t living simply. We over-spend until we are in debt and distracted.” And yet “loving our stuff has gone a bit off popularity…

Ocular armor

I’ve always had perfect vision, and I don’t say that to brag. It was a source of great frustration when I was growing up. I was terribly jealous of the kids in school with glasses, and I desperately wanted my own. Every birthday and every Christmas I would write ‘Eye exam’ at the top of…

Backcountry crucible

A few years back, I go to a nature writing retreat in the North Cascades. I think it’s a writing retreat set in nature, but it’s actually a writing retreat about nature. I grew up going camping with my family, and my hardcore backpacker dad was known to shake us out of our road trip…

The accidental homebody

I read a lot so I thought I was adventurous, but I’m realizing that living vicariously through the experiences of characters stumbling out the backs of wardrobes into a wintery wood, being kidnapped aboard a spaceship to Malacandra, or tesseracting through the universe isn’t quite the same as riding a camel in Egypt, climbing to Machu Picchu, or eating my way through Italy.

I was expecting pie

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, the answer to the question ‘Who is my neighbor?’ is ‘Everyone.’ I appreciate this story because it opens up the world to boundless love regardless of race, class, religion. But, while they’re not mutually exclusive, there’s no substitute for truly knowing the people who physically live around you,…

It’s all Wendell Berry’s fault

We had always lived in the city, but after my husband, Bryan, and I brought home two babies to our tiny third-floor condo next to a 7-11—from which we witnessed many dangerous liaisons of both the narcotic and carnal variety, heard delivery trucks arrive next door to unload pallets of Mountain Dew and Doritos at…