Last week we drove 13 hours to south east Pennsylvania to attend my SIL's wedding. To the say the least, it was a whirlwind trip. Surreal in many aspects. Exhausting. We left at six in the morning. Bought gas just off the interstate for 3.58 a gallon. We watched the gas prices lower as we headed south. While we were gone Lehman failed and Ike took out the coast of Texas. Gas prices crept higher as we headed home. It felt like the world had shifted considerably while we were gone. Meanwhile, we had a taste of the suburban lifestyle.
I have always thought my self a square peg. Try as hard as might, I am never going to fit into the round hole. Down there in Pa land there are sooo many round holes.. SiL lives in a housing development of McMansions. Granite counters, cedar swingsets, central air, multi- car garages, immigrant house cleaners. Very Expensive homes that have an up close view of the Limerick Nuclear Power Plant. With what they paid for their home, they could have had a lovely home on the coast in Maine with an incredible view of the ....ocean. The car is the only mode of transportation. Nothing is walkable. There are Mcmansions with huge cornfields abutting their yard.
I know that homesteading is full of hard work. Especially this time of year. I have spent many hours with my canner. A frost is threatened for tomorrow night so I am working hard to get everything in. But I would never trade my life for that life. I think it must be really hard to keep up with the Joneses.
James Kunstler, author of the Long Emergency, has said that the building out of the suburbs over the last 50 years has been the greatest misallocation of resources. I have to agree. We are seeing the result of that build out now in the price of oil and the sub- prime mess. Sharon Astyk;over at her blog, Causabon's Book, argues that when (not if) hardtimes come as a result of global warming, peak oil or economic collapse many folks will have to adapt in place. My observation is that even though many of these suburbs are built on once fertile farm land that that it is not going to be very easy to put a garden on the 1/2 acre lot. Many of the homes I saw under construction had their top soil stripped in order to level the land. My SIL can't get a shrub to grow on her lot because there is so much clay. We had a lot of clay when we moved in here but we have sheep and chickens that help us to feed the soil.
But, maybe I am over reacting. The world shifted while I was gone but one wouldn't know it in Pa land. The traffic was still steady , the mall parking lots were full, there were still big SUVs on the road. There were houses under construction.
Yup. It is good to be home.