Sunday, November 15, 2009

Back to the Land

It seems going back-to-the-land is enjoying yet another resurgence. It happened in the Sixties when communal living and living off the land became a popular way to, "get outside the system." It wasn't a new idea then and it isn't now and it's probably for the same reason: people want to have more control over their lives.

I grew up with parents who were back-to-the-landers, only I didn't know it at the time. I thought we were just lacking the amenities. I don't think they knew it, either. They were busy trying to improve our lot. They wanted out of this doing-everything-for-yourself way of life. They wanted something more.

We lived on a small farm with eighty acres. I know this, because the part of our land we rarely ventured into was known as The Back Forty. When we did cross over into that magical land we felt like we were in another part of the universe. Usually we were looking for our horses which had ventured in before us. Riding horses is what we did every summer day we could get away with it. Saddle sores became a way of life. Ever had saddle sores? It ain't pretty and it hurts like hell. I remember them well. It was worth it, apparently, because we kept riding every chance we got.

The other summer days were spent hoisting metal washtubs. Or, maybe it just seems that way. I thought we spent an inordinate amount of time washing sheets. I passed those days with music running through my head, singing whatever song or songs had caught my ear. I have a distinct memory of the Beatles,"Nowhere Man," catching hold. "He's a real nowhere man, living in his nowhere land, making all his nowhere plans for nobody." Ah, adolescent angst. Weren't those fun times? If someone said I had to repeat them I would borrow a phrase from Mark Twain in Roughing It, "Just order me some sample coffins."

Picking agates was a favorite early activity. We did it just for fun, walking the road, spitting on rocks that showed promise, declaring them "keepers." We took them home and put them in a coffee can, looked at them now and then. Then some idiot neighbor fed us some misinformation about white rocks being valuable and all. So, we went with our Radio Flyer wagon and embarked on the quest for white rocks, with a bit of shine of course. This turned into more work than we had anticipated. By the end of our first day out we'd had enough. We told ourselves it was all a stupid lie anyway. We trudged home, dragging the wagon behind us. So much for easy money.

No, we weren't back-to-the-landers. We were just country kids who had an omnipresent tub of homemade soap ( lye stinks) on the back porch. In the corner, on top of the summer stove, was a separater. For the unenlightened, this separated the cream from the drinkable milk. It was a large glass jar contraption with a turny thing. The milk came from a few cows. That we had to milk. By hand (I use the papal "we"). This was a job for the older siblings mostly.

Then there was the garden. But I'm too tired to go there.

So you want to go back to the land? Me, too. Been thinking about it a lot lately. A few acres with a small efficient, self-sufficient house. You know, "off the grid." There would be some veering from my early life. First, there has to be hot water coming out of the wall. There has to be a washing machine, not the kind with wringers (think photovoltaic panels and a lot of batteries). I'd like to have a chicken coop again, one the critters can't get into. The garden must consist of raised beds. Maybe a greenhouse to raise some orchids. Oh, and a local farmer's market would be nice. Goats. Maybe some goats.

Just go with it. I don't need any reality cops harshing my buzz.


  1. What you wish for sounds like when I was a kid growing up in Louisiana...and I miss it so...I hope your dreams come true...squishing one's toes in freshly tilled soil is a slice of heaven...

  2. Thank you, Kittie, for taking the time to read my blog and leave a comment. Yes, fresh dirt between the toes! I spent most of my summer days barefoot. I got caught once in the backseat of the car, heading for church, with no shoes on. I was four.