About Me

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I am a mother, a teacher, and a nature lover. I grew up on a mountain we called Owls' Knob in the Ozarks of Arkansas. The first seven years of my life were spent living in a log cabin, far from a store or streetlight, without electricity or running water and after twenty years of travel, I returned to the abondoned homestead. Now I live on a hill by a small lake and work at a public garden. These are stories about nature written from a women deeply influenced by place.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The "Simple" Life

I use to be that girl in the coffee shop or bar, speaking loud enough for everyone to hear. I preached recycling, using alternative energy, and living a different kind of life. I use to rage against the machine while acting as a gear in it. I read revolutionary and environmental texts. I did my part to recycle and reuse, but I lived like most Americans. Life was easy, but it wasn't the life I wanted to live.
So I decided to change my life. I bought 15 acres in the Ozark wilderness. Now I live a very different life. I not only recycle but my home uses only solar power, my water comes from the ground and returns to the earth once I'm finished lightly using it. I compost my food and human waste. A wood stove is our only source of heat. The yard is turning into a garden and I still hope to obtain goats and chickens soon. This is the life I use to talk about. The simple life. But it is not so simple.
Owning your home is ideal, but when there is no landlord, everything that breaks is your problem. When the water heater doesn't work, you take a cold shower or fix the problem with time, energy, and money. Out here it seems that everything breaks in time. On cold winter nights the pipes often freeze, the living room stays around only fifty degrees, and snow falls, trapping us at home. On hot summer days the ants attack the kitchen, ticks lurk in the weeds, and the heat pulls moisture from the skin. When the sun hides behind thick clouds, the electricity is depleted to nothing. The garden struggles and I strive to understand how things grow and die. Between bugs, droughts, floods, sun, and clouds, I have yet to produce heaping baskets of vegetables. The battle is ongoing.
All year, we get lonely out here. Desperately, we drive sixty miles into town, spewing carbon and toxins from the tail pipe. The lonely feeling could be resolved without the use of an engine if we weren't so secluded. If more people lived out here; if more people would seek the simple life, knowing it is not so simple.

1 comment:

  1. WOW Roslyn! It's all about practice. You know more now then you did when you began. I bet you could blog next on all the things you've learned how to fix, and how to make sure it stays fixed for longer the next time. Surely!! Bet you can name three right off the top of your head...:-)

    I live much the same style of life you outlined above; but my perspective, and results, differ greatly. I live simple, true. But when I began this journey, I asked myself how I could live a simple life AND live comfortable.

    When I bought my little one acre homestead, my house was in need of much repair as well. It's a little rock cottage built in 1915. I too have wood heat. I realized that first winter, while shivering all day and night, that my very first priority had to be to insulate the ENTIRE house. Giving special care and detail to the ceiling.

    In your log cabin, that will require some creative thinking on how to stop all the little air gaps, but it can be done. You and John are very creative people. That's the first key to comfort. Warmth! Stop the air flow to an absolute minimum. In a small house, such as yours and mine, by opening the door a time or two - which happens naturally throughout the day - keeps a good supply of fresh air. However, with all the little gaps consistently leaching out your fire's warmth, you're bound to be cold and miserable most the time.

    Solving the air gaps will also help solve the water pipes from freezing so often. I'm sure you're already looking at how you can insulate the pipes, and that will help greatly.

    As for ticks in the garden, abundance veggie growing, and living sustainable from what you can grow...well, that's an adventure I can speak at length on. But I'm just now fully putting together my understanding of how that too can be implemented, maintained, and practiced with simplicity and abundance. Give me a call and we can chat more on this subject if you'd like.

    As for loneliness, that's definitely a product of being out in the Ozark wilds. You have many superb benefits: no streetlights, seeing the stars clearly, hearing nature at it's finest...and so much more. I live relatively close to town, so that is far less of an issue for me. However, I'd bet you'll be far more likely to get more people to move nearer and set up a simple life with you once you can show them with positive certainty that it can be both practical and comfortable.

    I've seen your beautiful abode, and I admire your and John's steadfastness. It is a true adventure to completely change direction from living what is typical, to deciding to follow a path of complete connection with the land. I admire you ever more for deciding to do it for yourselves and for the sake of little Zane. :-)