Since the essay I wrote back in September didn’t get selected for the REAL SIMPLE Life Lessons Essay Contest this year, I will share it here in parts. The theme: What Single Decision Changed Your Life?
While gathering carrots from my garden, contemplating the soups I would freeze for the winter, I thought back on a decision I made seven years ago that resulted in the lifestyle I was now living. I was pregnant with our first child and we were living with my dad while searching for a home to buy. My husband and I were standing at a major intersection in life. There were multiple roads we could have chosen to take. One day my husband took me to see a property he described as having “potential”. I stood in the driveway of the rather big foreclosed home on twenty acres of overgrown grassy land. A collapsed barn and a dying apple tree were the centerpieces of the backyard. The paint on the house was peeling, windows were broken, shudders were missing, there were holes in the roof, and the inside looked and smelled like it had been inhabited by animals. I placed my hand over the growing baby in my belly and tried to imagine raising a family there. I took a deep breath and waited to hear my husband out on his vision for us.
Up to this point my husband and I had lived through various experiences leading us to believe this house was right for us. We attended college in an area where life was at a slower pace, the grocery stores had shelves of locally grown food, and sustainable living was the norm rather than the exception. After graduating I worked at a nature preserve and retreat center where we rented out ecologically friendly cabins in the woods. Meals served to guests consisted of our own organic produce and food from the local farmers’ market. Before guests arrived, I would clear trails, refill oil lanterns, put fresh flowers in vases, and make sure the composting toilet buckets in the outhouses were lined with fresh newspaper and sawdust. I learned a lot about living off the land. The idea of “simple living” sounds nice to everyone, but I was learning the hard work it required.
We rented a quaint one room log cabin and began implementing the concepts I learned at the retreat center and my husband’s knowledge from studying wildlife management and conservation. We planted a garden, got some chickens, and cooked using local and homegrown organic foods. We composted our kitchen scraps, and recycled our glass, plastic, and paper. It was true “simple living”. Sitting on the front porch of my cabin at night, looking out over the rolling hills, contentment would settle over me replacing the exhaustion. It was on the front porch of this cabin that my husband asked me to marry him.