When I was a child traveling with my family, we would drive past little homestead farms in Costa Rica or Botswana or Italy and I would think, "This makes sense. It's beautiful." And I would think that this simpler life - working for food rather than working for money that buys food - was perhaps better than our own. From inside the air-conditioned van I'd stare out the window, reasoning with myself in that strangely astute and unselfaware manner of childhood, that this simpler life was not to be had in America. That it was not allowed here. America was where we came to escape poverty and sadness and the demons of the past, and since the past was an infinite beast that blurs and won't sit still long enough to let us see its true nature - where one leg ends and the torso begins - our escape required us to also escape homesteading.
For years I have sworn that I really want to homestead. Every step I took that brought me closer to a simpler way of life has made me happy. But I've never taken more than two or three steps together. I've root cellared, gardened, canned, kept chickens, and dried. I've saved seed and sewed. But the truth is - when everyone tells you that there's a reason people live in cities and suburbs and it really is better and that I'm just being ungrateful - it's hard not to second-guess myself.
When my ex and I moved into this house, we were excited because it was the kind of house that's a constant project. Its beauty lies in its imperfection and how it calls you to work on it. Its success in being a home lay in the work that it required, a work that would come out of love and build love. When he moved out, the house became daunting. He was the one who knew how to use a wood stove. He was the one who could use the circular saw. I'm terrified of circular saws. I staunchly and exclusively use a hand saw, and while I'll use a power chop-saw, I have an old, manual one that I prefer even though it needs a new blade.
So now I'm here, in this house, on this incredibly beautiful farm land, and the only thing keeping me from jumping in is a bit of fear and nagging doubts. So I'm jumping in. Head-first.
I promised myself when I was a child that I would try to live a simpler, soil-based life (I also once pinkie swore myself that I would never work 9-5, but look where that's gotten me), so I'm trying. Because if i don't jump in now, I might never get the chance to do it again. Because somehow I've managed to forget that I can do the things in life that matter - food, friendship, heat, laughter, joy - on my own, in my own house, with only myself for company. And I need to remember that.