Some of you already know the story. For the past two years, we had been living in Dorchester, Massachusetts,from where I commuted to my dream job as a teacher at Boston Ballet. We had a terrific condo on the edge of a park, great neighbors and many new friends. Our only son was enrolled in a cooperative pre-school where we met a lot of very involved, energetic and creative parents. Then, as is often the case, life began to throw us a couple of curve balls. Well, there only one real curve ball-and this was a wonderful curve ball to catch- the birth of our second son. We had often thought about a second child, so it wasn’t a complete surprise, but we knew that a second child would make a life in Boston very expensive. Additionally, I had often considered the idea that I might need to be closer to my parents; having my children know their grandparents is important to me, and none of us are getting any younger. Throw into the moving equation the fact that only one of us was really happy in Boston, and it becomes clear that relocating was in the best interest of the entire family.
So, when some friends of ours expressed an interest in hosting us on their rural farm in Virginia (as luck would have it, one county over from my parents’ home) in exchange for helping them with their very interesting project, we knew we couldn’t pass this up. Their project is fascinating; learning to live sustainably-really, truly sustainably. The mission of the project, called Living Energy Farm, is to create a life without fossil fuels, and they have certainly managed to minimize their usage. There are solar panels that provide electricity, wood burning and solar cooking equipment, they ride their bicycles as much as possible and utilize public transportation (believe it or not, but there is public transportation out here…it is even more reliable than the Boston MBTA, and maybe a little more frequent, too!) They grow their own food, and work to preserve food for the non-growing season. They are in the process of building a house that utilizes many aspects of “green-building”- from walls insulated with straw bale to a solar heat capture system on the roof to provide heat. Between farming and building, there is much to be done.
Some of this is a struggle for me. To be quite honest, I don’t know that I will ever be able to completely give up my reliance on fossil fuels- I have a car and I like to drive. I have enjoyed being able to go to the grocery store to buy most anything I want at a moment’s notice without being limited to what is growing and in season, and I have always enjoyed using kitchen appliances (an electric stove, for instance). Not having those things readily available is frustrating. It is possible to do everything I used to do in the kitchen, but making a simple pot of oatmeal takes a bit longer when you have to build a fire in the stove. Of course, it helps to KNOW how to build a fire.
I will also admit that I have had some delusions about time…somehow I conjured the idea that I would move here, not work full-time and be able to knock things off of the list of things I have always wanted to do. I would be able to start a successful blog and later write my life story, go back to school to earn a degree in evolutionary biology, cook and experiment in the kitchen, start a bee colony, have energy to play with my kids, …well. I am patting myself on the back for at least getting this blog set up, but I suspect the other projects will have to be put on the back burner for a while. I have to learn to build a fire, first!
So, for now, I have traded sitting on the back deck of my Dorchester condo, listening to the neighborhood kids playing in the playground for sitting under a pecan tree listening to the birds sing. I have also traded the wonderful Massachusetts summer for Virginia’s hot, humid, stagnant summer, the convenience of city life for the remoteness of the country and the comfort of a familiar career for something about which I know next to nothing (seriously- how do you build a fire?) But watching Sunnelin run outside to play this morning and knowing that he was surrounded by nature- listening to him sing and laugh and be a happy little boy- that made this transition and its growing pains worth every minute.