We aren’t the first to do this.
Not by any means.
We’re even latecomers to this newer resurgence, the hipster millennial backlash (or so I see it) to perpetual connectivity and retreat from the always-on status of the big city.
Look back one generation, and you see the heritage in the VW bus dwellers and the back-to-the-landers and the long-haired commune citizens.
Look back two generations, and you see hardworking folks caught between two world wars and the great depression, not seeing to make a statement or a protest, but merely to eek out a living off of the land as best they could.
Keep looking and you’ll find the original immigrants, the pilgrims and the setters who took to the Oregon Trail and who caught Gold Fever and staked land claims. You’ll see my grandparents and great-grandparents, who worked farms and delivered milk and grew the food on their table.
And of course, before anyone arrived on a ship, there were people here, living off of the land and it’s cycles of bounty and scarcity.
So no — this isn’t new.
But it is new for us. And it is remarkable, for all it is unoriginal.
My husband, the engineer, revels in being shoulders deep in projects, as he builds irrigation contraptions in the garage and learns the art of beekeeping. Soon, he will receive a nucleus of bees.
I love that it’s called a nucleus. It’s such a perfectly descriptive term for this little center of activity and production.
Sometime this year, I may learn to harvest honey. I will plant a garden and attempt to grow something that lives. I look forward to the cherry harvest, to make preserves, and perhaps to toy with apricots and apple ciders and other bounty of our produce.
Overall, for me, this turn to the homesteading life — which seems a big term for a simple style of living, but it also seems the best way to describe what we are trying to do — is less in the practice, and more in the philosophy.
Instead of taking a structured, standard-issue, life of 8 hour shifts and paychecks and rinse and repeat, the life that works well and meets the needs and hopes and dreams of many, but that I found to be insufficient — I’ll be starting to build the framework of an alternative. Building life by my hand, literally. By my words on a page (or a screen), or my hands on a yoga mat, and set withing the community of the relationships I’ll build as we slowly re-root ourselves.
We don’t know how this experiment will end. But today, as I write from a small-town coffeeshop and start to build the framework of the creative life I’ve imagined, I hope it lasts forever.