Sunday, May 13, 2007

A Hard Road

NOW we are having 90 degree weather...days in a row (at least it's still getting down to the 70s at night...won't be for long). Leaf lettuce and arugula that survived the freeze is now bolting WAY prematurely--probably from the stress of the extreme temperatures both directions. ALL cole crops (those that survived the hard freeze at least) have been eaten to the ground by rabbits (or possibly woodchucks, though I haven't seen signs of their digging yet this year).

As weeks and months go by with no housemate in sight--one promise after the next, one disappointment after the next--I'm realizing I may simply not be able to DO this...aside from everything else, just because of not being able to leave any windows in the house open while I'm at work, for fear of sudden thunderstorms (frequent & never predictable this time of year, often with substantial horizontal rain). Can't afford to install or operate AC without a housemate sharing the cost.

Being sick with no one to do chores or otherwise help keep things going is another "brick wall" issue. I picked for market Fri. morning, then was too sick to go to market this morning. Dropped everything by the homeless shelter on my way to work today, then stopped at the grocery store to pick up a bad deli lunch to eat en route. So the homeless wander around at leisure and eat fresh organic salad, and I work two jobs and eat crap. It's all so upside down and backwards.

I've developed a real appreciation for traditional division of labor. I don't care how the work is assigned (gender, inclination, drawing straws)--it's a simple fact of physics that one person can't be two places at once. I can cook while cleaning the kitchen or talking on the phone, but I can't cook while working off the farm or weeding the garden. The farm needs someone to be home, as well as someone to pay the bills; it needs someone doing the inside work, at the same time someone is doing the outside work. I don't care whether it's a "relationship", housemate(s), friends, "intentional community"--just more warm bodies with opposable thumbs sharing work towards the same goal: a satisfying, wholesome, sustainable life in community with this piece of land and its non-human inhabitants--the coyote, the chickens, the blue roly-poly, the snake, the indigo bunting, the rose-breasted grosbeak, the lambs, the Border Collies, the trees, the grass ever in need of mowing, the Blaze climbing rose that sprang forth miraculously from mowed grass the summer after we bought the house, and has survived ever since.

How does one find that person/people, in this day and age? In this culture? When one isn't in college any more? Everyone who dreams of this lifestyle seems to want their OWN 5 acres, not land with someone else's name on the title. The implication to me is that people aren't willing to commit to the way of life. They want the "safety net" of selling the real estate as investment property when they change their minds...when they find out for real that it's hard work. Lack of willingness to commit is so dominant in relationships, too. There is no such thing as "till death do us part" these days. My own life, broken time and again, is a testament to that.

There isn't even much "until the job is done" around. One day several years ago a friend and I commited to rebuild a pasture fence. We locked the sheep in the holding pen, and tore out the old (badly failing) fence. When we were half done putting the new fence up, the person looked at their watch and said "Oh, I need to go now." And walked off, leaving me to finish the fence alone. By flashlight, in the end, because it took so much longer as one person. Because as one person I spent most my time walking from one end to the other--trying to be two people in two different places. I had no choice. The job HAD to be finished THEN so the sheep could eat without escaping to the neighbor's soybean field.

So, basically, I'm wondering if these years of effort are all for naught (other than the amazing life I've had here). Maybe it's time to sell the livestock, rent the house to some total stranger, and fallow the land until the energy situation/economy/environment get so bad that people are INVOLUNTARILY committed to this way of life. Then the skills/knowledge/tools that I have accumulated will be worth something, and people will need what I have.

So often the people who say they want this lifestyle have active addictions--nicotine being the most prominent, followed closely by alcohol. Drugs, too. How can we call our living "sustainable" when we are killing our bodies and short-circuiting our minds? Let alone work hard enough to pay for such expensive destructive substances through farming by hand! And of course there are myriad serious safety issues inherent in the practice of these, physical incoordination, lack of judgement, altered perception, etc.... Or people consider television to be a God-given right and necessity. How can we hear the animals screaming for help during a predator attack if we are listening to virtual people uttering scripted screams on TV? People tell me, "You are being too controlling...loosen up! Don't tell people how to live their lives, if you want them to live/work with you!" Yet one careless cigarette butt (and I've yet to meet a smoker who is TOTALLY mindfull of their butts at all times) could destroy everything I've worked so hard (and paid) for.

There are words of Jesus' (I can't find the exact scripture right now) that say it is a narrow & hard road that leads to eternal life, and few will follow it. This seems also true of the temporal life of living and farming sustainably within our ambient culture.

Perhaps there's a connection there....

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