Winter is a time for me to visit my family and friends in the north of Sweden where I grew up. A city in the 110,000 inhabitants range, the area hosts friends and siblings with degrees ranging from nurse to actor to teacher, with the same kind of lives I once had, too — before Maine, before Deer Isle, long before I'd even heard the word homesteading. Lives with careers and mortgages, lives where smart is a phone, sourdough bread a fashion and organic, locally grown produce increases your status on Facebook.

While many of those visiting our Hostel are farmers and homesteaders themselves, some come from that “city culture” and seem to take their first hesitant steps outside of a flatly paved driveway when they arrive at our place. Wide eyes, a sense of adventure. I appreciate the interest shown in my life and in a more sustainable, conscientious way of living. That is, after all, why we open our home to hundreds of hostel guests every summer, to show that there are alternatives. What's fascinating to me is the very fact that my daily life is fascinating.Anneli homestead in winter2 

“How big is this island again?” someone asked me. The answer — 3,000 inhabitants in winter and 6,000 in summer — usually seems, judging by the facial expression, to fall somewhere between deserted and slightly inhabited.

“And only solar power?” Yes, only solar power. “Do you have a phone?” Yes, of course. We have a hostel, we need a phone. But no cell phone. No one I know has a cell phone, I usually add. The reception is terrible. A moment of silence usually follows, to contemplate this vast unknown. A place with no cell phones.

I've left the cities I once called home, from houses with radiant heat, from apartments and rents and kitchen appliances. From kitchen taps with warm water, 3-minutes showers, outlets with unlimited power in every corner of every room, daily newspaper, daily commute, daily grid. It wasn't for the fame nor glory that I moved across the Atlantic, and it was not for the opportunity to rack up my exoticism credits that I chose a small homestead on a small island in Maine.

Still, my everyday life, the chores and the repetitive routines, as just about all lives have, becomes something extremely fascinating. How many people get to explain how they keep their food cold when talking about what they do nowadays?

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