Seven Years Ago

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I spent much of today looking out of our living room windows at the blustery snow and ice storm outside, thinking a lot about 7 years ago. Seven years ago today, Eric and I packed all of our belongings into the same Jeep we still have today, and drove down to “the farm” in Virginia. At first we camped in a tent; when we got flooded out of our tent, we moved into the dilapidated barn. When part of the barn’s roof blew off in a late March snow storm, we moved into our trailer. Later we moved around to different apartments in Blacksburg, before finally heading back to the farm and the trailer. On November 11, 2011 we finally moved into our cob cottage. Now we are cozy in our little house, happily playing with our little baby.

If the me of seven years ago had the chance to peek into the future and see all the twists and turns that had occurred, I might have been disappointed. Before moving to Virginia, Eric and I had spent time volunteering and working on different organic farms and homesteads around the country. We felt like we could make a go of the same kind of life on our own land. Eric’s family already had the land, 180 acres dating back to the Revolutionary War. It seemed perfect. But the reality is, seven years later, we are not making our living off the land.

And I’m not necessarily unhappy with that. I’d like to take care of more of our own needs, extending our vegetable garden and getting some chickens, but for various reasons, (seasonal allergies, stress of being tied to the weather and other things outside of human control) no more than that.

Yet even though we are not living off the land, the “why” of our being on the farm in Virginia is very purposeful. The cob cottage we built is mortgage and rent free, and that in itself allows us to live a good life. We believe in living first, working for ourselves, placing our family above money, staying home with our baby—and we’ve arranged our lives so that we can do that. Right now, we have a dream of writing The New American Cider Guide—and we’re actually doing it. When Heron gets older, we can travel the world, not having to worry about pensions and mortgages and who will take care of lots of fancy stuff back home. Yes, sometimes I am tired of not having running water, of living without a street address or a driveway that visitors could actually recognize and use. But truthfully, I know we’re lucky, and I’m thankful.

The particularities of how we live are not for everyone—but most people do want to have their lives aligned with their own personal priorities and beliefs, and in essence, that’s what we’re continually striving for. I’m glad we’ve been crazy enough to make that happen—though really, what could be saner? Shouldn’t everyone live a life aligned with his priorities? The options of adventure and growth are wide and open to many people. But most people say, “ I wish I could do X, but I can’t, and changing things so I can would be too drastic, so I can’t (well, I could but I won’t) but hey, maybe when I’m retired.” We skipped that whole scenario by just having things be “drastic” to begin with.  The way we live allows us to recognize our opportunities and to take advantage of them.

That doesn’t seem so crazy to me.