I’ve been talking to my mom about this whole idea of an intentional community and living a more sustainable, simpler life. My mom has been great about just listening to me, although when she does speak she generally expresses relief that her days of having to do all those things (gardening, canning, trying to sew or crochet or whatever, etc) are over.
I see her point. She grew up rather poor. Her family truly relied on growing their own vegetables and raising their own chickens and shit and before my dad died she had to do all of those things still. I mean, dad worked in public safety and we all know that those guys don’t get paid shit for running into burning buildings when everybody else is running out. Once he died, we moved away from the property that had pastures for cows and pens for pigs and acreage for gardening; and the life insurance combined with her job meant that we didn’t need to do those things anymore. I get it. After decades of having to do those things to survive, it became a grind for her, and after years of dad’s illness in addition to all the usual married with children stuff, she needed a break.
I look back with fondness on those childhood years when we had a garden and cows and pigs and shit. Now, I may look back on it fondly, but I don’t glamorize it. I remember how much I sometimes hated having to take a hoe and dig holes to plant shit, or having to take an axe and split some wood. It was work, and sometimes work sucks.
I also remember having so many family members that lived close by. There were always aunts and uncles and cousins aorund helping pick vegetables and shell peas and slice apples for drying. I remember grandmother teaching me how to make fried apple pies (don’t ask me how to do it, I’ve destroyed too many brain cells in the intervening years), and granny letting me help her churn butter. I remember that whenever dad was hospitalized yet again, there were people who stepped in to help with all that stuff that still has to happen even though the world seems to be crumbling. Mom and dad’s friends and coworkers often showed up to help with things, too, and that’s what I look back on with such rose-colored glasses.
I miss that sense of family and community. I miss feeling like we’re all in this together. I miss the simplicity of Christmas gatherings that were more about family and food than how much shit we could buy each other. I miss that feeling of togetherness that I recall being so pervasive in my childhood. In today’s world, so many interactions occur digitally, and we don’t know our neighbors anymore, and we go to Whole Paycheck to buy our garden fresh vegetables and we turn to etsy for handmade garments.
And yet, there are still pockets of that togetherness. Here in the swamp, our next door neighbors have declared that we are family–they even invite us to family dinners. I know that they aren’t the only ones out there like this. I once had a friend whose mom opened her doors every holiday so that her adult childrens’ friends who had no place to go for holidays didn’t have to spend them alone.
This is what I look forward to as we develop this property in the middle of buttfuck nowhere. This is my hope for the future; that I can once again live simply, and with a sense of community.