Thursday, April 10, 2008

Snyder, the Nearings and Grandpa K.


So why buy something so far off the beaten path? A desire to escape the broken humanity that my job as a Psychiatric RN has subjected me to over the last sixteen years?

This place is remote. Isolated. Twenty miles to the nearest substantial town. No lattes within a half hour's drive.

Blame the Eco-poet, Gary Snyder. Someplace I read that Gary lived in the Sierra Foothills, and commuted to his teaching job in Davis, California. An idea started to incubate. Could I do something similar?

Then I read the classic by Scott and Helen Nearing in "The Good Life":

"We maintain that a couple, of any age from twenty to fifty, with a minimum of health, intelligence and capital, can adapt themselves to country living, learn it's crafts, overcome it's difficulties, and build up a life pattern rich in simple values and productive of personal and social good."

Scott was 47 when he bought his homestead in 1934. I'm 47 now. And as for a couple being between 20 and 50, Joni and I just snuck in under that one. Gosh it seems, according to the Nearings, we only have a few years left to do this.

As for the "minimum of health". Yup. Got that. Just the occasional kidney stone, middle aged sprawl, some sciatica, a few broken ribs (from wrestling with psychotic patients), and two broken arms from falling off my bike, have haunted me over the last couple of years. I think that fits into the minimum of requirements. Barely.

You can make your own decision regarding the "minimum... of intelligence" part. Somehow I think my brother might believe this is my shortcoming. Darned siblings!

The Nearings only did what my Peasant, Norwegian ancestors did for thousands of years. I come from a long line of non-regal paupers. What Scott Nearing did by choice (educated radical that he was), my own Grandpa K. did out of necessity. When my aforementioned Lutheran Pastor brother asked me (yet again perplexed by some silly venture of mine) why I wanted to do this, I told him: "Because I want to live like Grandpa K."

And when good ole Grandpa K. died back in the 70's, some of his last words to me were about his sadness that there are no farmers left in my family...and more importantly...that he fully expected me to carry on the tradition. I hope that a few fruit trees and a substantial garden satisfies his request.

So with Gary Snyder, Helen and Scott Nearing, my Grandpa K., and not to mention that the solar compound lies within about forty miles (as the bird flies) from one of Edward Abbey's famous fire towers, where he and other literary giants used to gaze for fires while scribbling their craft----well, that's good enough inspiration for me.


This weekend we travel to the Solar Compound (140 miles) to meet with a structural engineer (with hand-drawn plans--thanks to Joni's planning). And to begin gathering castaway concrete for the rubble foundation.

Pictures to follow. I promise. Just have to figure out how to use the digital camera, and upload it to this blog....


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