It is a lovely Fall day with a cool breeze and warm sunshine.The goats frolic in the crisp morning air, making incredible leaps any Olympian would be proud of before wandering off into the forest to sample a bit of this and that.After eating their fill of exactly what they want, they amble back to lie comfortably snuggled together in the sun.The cats curl up wherever they happen to be and sleep in the golden warmth.
I envy my animal friends.They live each moment without a thought for the next one, doing just as they wish without worrying about what is going to happen tomorrow.I wonder if there is a way for me to capture a bit of that.I spend so much time and energy planning for what could happen that I know I miss a great deal of what is happening.I take less time than I should to just sit, be content, and feel the sun on my skin.So much beauty surrounds me and I often fail to appreciate it because I’m worried about this or that.But how does one live in the moment, but still survive in the long run?I have not yet mastered that delicate balance.
The air has the sweet, dying smell of Autumn.There is a crisp chill in the morning when I go out to milk Tinkerbell.Hints of red, orange and yellow flash in the forest.Persimmons begin to turn neon orange, waiting for the first frosts to develop their sweetness.I spent some time yesterday gathering hickory nuts hidden among last Fall’s leaves and twigs and savoring their sweet meats.Wild hickory nuts are not like their tame cousins one finds in the store.The untamed flavor of the paper thin meats is rich and sweetly complex.
This is the season of abundance.Unlike fleeting summer crops of lettuce, tomatoes, and peppers, Fall’s bounty is hearty and long lasting.Potatoes, nuts, squash, onions, beans, and flint corn ripen and are stored away to sustain us during the dark days of winter.In a world where you can get strawberries and tomatoes all year, we’ve forgotten that there is a season for everything.In a way this makes us poorer, for we accept these pale versions of true food as the real thing and miss out on the exquisite pleasure of perfectly ripe strawberries and cream on a Spring morning.
In just a few short weeks, Thistleglade already feels like home.Hedgewyck taught us a great deal about living the life we’ve chosen.I can’t help but smile when I realize how naïve we were when we first came.Sure we’d tried to live self-sufficiently in Wyoming, but we were chained to our perceptions of how things should be.Tied to the grid, we never considered how much water or power we were using.It was seamless.We’d turn on the faucet and hot water would flow.So simple. We never considered the invisible dance that was going on behind the scenes. The pump turned on, drawing electricity from the grid.Water flowed from under the ground and was pushed through an underground pipe to the house where it was heated with natural gas from yet another underground pipe.Suddenly things don’t seem so simple after all.
Our perception is much different after a year of living off grid.Each gallon of water has to be caught from the sky or hauled from somewhere.I read somewhere that the average American household uses 40 gallons a day per person.It takes us three weeks to use 250 gallons.That’s about 6 gallons a day.Yet we manage to take daily showers, wash dishes, do laundry, and cook.We run a 1000 watt generator a few hours a day to charge the trailer batteries.5 gallons of gasoline lasts a week.We’re hoping to get a couple of solar panels to cut this down.We heat water, run the refrigerator, and cook with propane.A 20 pound bottle lasts just over a week. Weheat the trailer with wood and are working on ways to cook and heat water with wood as well.
Each step has required an adjustment.Sometimes the transition was not easy.The true challenge has been in examining our perceptions.I always considered myself to have an open mind.I never realized how immersed I was in “how things should be” until we started doing this.We will never be able to just mindlessly turn on the hot water again.