North and South

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Before we even left Vancouver Island, we were looking at one particular property in Coutts, AB. The town is right on the border between Alberta and Montana. Actually, it’s not a town, it’s a village of fewer than 300 residents. Jamie found a house there that had a garage, a shop, a greenhouse, a wide driveway with lots of RV parking, tons of space in the house, and a lovely porch on the front side facing the street. It seemed too much house. We stopped thinking about it. Then we found ourselves in California and wanting to be back in Canada, so the Coutts house rose to the top again.

Before the end of 2018, we’d visited Arizona and wanted to see more, plus we’d seen the changing landscape between the Pacific Northwest and Nevada. We wanted to see the southwest more extensively. Now it was 2019, and we were wondering whether we really needed to go east.

Living on the Canadian/US border in Coutts, AB, would give us easy access to the south when we wanted to travel. The price for this house was higher than other properties we’d looked at in Canada, but we thought it had a great location. Hwy 4 of out of Alberta gave us a port of entry into Montana and Interstate 15.

We were both restless. March was months away. Looking at realtor photos online gave us something to talk about. With hindsight, I can say I’m glad we had so much time to consider what we wanted from a house and the attached property, and from the town where we would settle down. Our needs changed from one month to the next. We had one chance at getting this right - that’s how it felt.

We tried to go for a walk every day, and we needed something to talk about when we walked. We needed to feel that dip in the road. It was essential to know what was really important, what we valued, and the more we looked at the house in Coutts, the more we appreciated the freedom we had to travel.


We reached out to a few agents across Canada to get a feel for the market, and for some reason, that house in Coutts always drew us back. We knew Alberta, having lived there for over 25 years, but that was central and northern Alberta. Would the southern part of the province provide us with a life less burdened?

The Coutts house is off the market now. Someone else will be starting their seeds in the greenhouse and sitting on that porch in the heat of summer. I’m okay with that. I know that house would never have felt like a big enough move for me. There was something very familiar, very safe about it. Coutts was the dip in the road; a low place where we were missing family and friends. We slowed down for the dip, we thought about taking the safest route, but there was a big journey ahead of us. We had to climb out and look further down the horizon.

Next week I’ll be taking a look back at the property we lovingly called “Rolling Hills.”

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  • Why were we restless? We didn’t know what the next destination was. For us, it was hard to relax without plans, without reservations, without formulating a routine. There was too little to do, and that made us restless.

  • What is outside your comfort zone? I was pushed beyond limits I’d made for myself. I didn’t have a home base. Being adrift for months was very unsettling.

  • What do you do when there’s a dip in the road? Distractions are fun. Oh, look! Ice cream! Wow! Palm trees, cactus! There’s always something beyond the dip, even if we can’t see it in the moment. I couldn’t see the Atlantic Ocean, but it was there waiting for me.

Janet KittoComment