Monday, March 18, 2013

Into the Virtual Wildnerness

Something just occurred to me that I find curious and wonder what you think.  In general, I'm a city girl.  I love having conveniences that are walking distance from my home - bakery first, of course, but also florists, bookstores, novelty stores and low-end boutiques, consignment shops and most important, coffee shops.  We have parks nearby to satisfy my need for green space and playgrounds for the kids.  It's a small city, so we don't have the smog and the skyscrapers outside of downtown, and even downtown has become more green-conscience and locally-owned.  I love where we live in our 90-year-old dutch colonial house.  That said, I've been persistently nagged by thoughts of rural life, life off the grid.

Let me stop here to explain something important: I wouldn't last a week off the grid. 

I needs my wi-fi and my apps.  Let me also explain something else of equal importance: I am a big wuss.  I've never camped a night in the wilderness or even KOA-approved campgrounds.  Too many bugs and not enough flush toilets.  But part of me must long to go back-to-nature because I read things like Wild, and Into The Wild, which both have the word "wild" in the title; I drool over the Title 9 and Athleta catalogs as if I'm going to take a run in the woods, surf, or throw a boomarang on the beach.  A boomarang!  That's what their models do when they aren't doing yoga (also on the beach) or windsurfing.  (Why do all of their models live on the beach?) 

I do this all the time.

That's me with my tiny waist and compulsive hula hooping in sunny, land-locked Kentucky
  
 These catalogs serve an audience of women who need sportswear that offers support (for bouncing boobs during cardio workouts) in attractive colors and prints.  Why do I want to dress like a surfer when a walk on the beach brings about irrational panic attacks over misidentified jellyfish?

In addition to reading material and clothing lust, I moon over rural destination vacations, long to inhabit a writing cabin in the woods or the prairie or overlooking a fjord; I pin photos of pretty lakes (I'm not a strong swimmer) and woods (I hate ticks) and gardens (I love to garden, but my yard is currently an overflowing swamp of dog-poo and bare soil). 

Am I living in Country Living fantasyland because it's escapist, or is there something deeper, something visceral that the rural landscape communicates to me?  Do you suffer from this contradiction too, my fine friends?  Do you sit in a local Starbucks plucking away at your laptop where you surf from one beautiful Flickr landscape photo to the next?

In an attempt to quiet this contradiction, I enjoyed two unplugged days with my kids.  We spent some outdoor time on the porch swing on Saturday, but a freak snow/sleet storm drove us back inside yesterday.  I woke up today feeling more refreshed and less frantic than I usually do, so I'm thinking that Weekends Unplugged is my new recharging (pun intended) habit.


 (source images: Title 9)

18 comments:

  1. Same problem here, sister. I always say that I'm the "backpacking type." But here's the thing: I am terrified of ticks, snakes, and mountain lions (Not necessarily in that order)and while I'm super proficient at peeing standing up or in bizarre places, I saw this episode of House once where a girl got a tick on her hoohah in the woods and I've never been the same.

    But I like the idea of being unplugged on the weekends. I've been much better at that lately, though I've been instagramming everything I eat because I'm turning into that sort of social media whore.

    I love cities, though. And I'm ok with that. Cities and coffee shops. Coming to Louisville this weekend!

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    1. I tried to become an organic farmer for a summer (lasted 2 weeks) and one of my roommates had a tick on her vajayjay. Hence the quick flight home.

      Give me a holler this weekend! I have dance recitals to attend, but I might be able to sneak away.

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    2. I saw that episode of House too Kate! First thought: Yikes!

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  2. You look so happy in the photos here! I want your life. I don't know the answer to your questions, but I can tell you that I recently had an overwhelming desire to live (short term) in a cabin in the woods where I do nothing but read and write all day. And I have nothing but a dog and a horse... and a toilet, and my laptop, and I guess electricity. But no Internet. NO. I still want to organize a writer retreat at the Grand Canyon north rim lodge. You will be invited! Also, in all seriousness, I don't think humans were meant to live indoors all the time. Nothing clears my mind more than a walk outdoors in total solitude. 'Cept for the dog and the horse :)

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    1. Well, um, that's not really me. Those are photos from the Title 9 catalog. I'm a bit of a sarcastic scamp. Sorry to mislead you. My actual life is boring and I haven't worn a bikini since . . . never.

      Thanks for including me in a writing retreat! I've wanted to do that for a very long time.

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    2. WHAT? That's not you?

      From,
      -One scamp to another

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  3. ok, that above comment was funny. well not all of it, just the first part. the rest was lovely. i have never lived in a city. i went from a fishing village to a small university and now our farm. i love our life. i love growing our own food. i love that my children ride their horses across the fields. i love the stark landscape. i love our cows. i love that the first outside chore the small children have is gathering the eggs. i love the way your hair on your neck stands up when you hear the wolves and coyotes howl at night.

    that said
    i hate camping. i love electricity, hot showers and the internet. i love la labo perfume, british dvd s and all-clad copper-core pots.

    i sometimes imagine what it would be like to live off the grid but then i remember i've met some of those people and they smell.

    also when i can't sleep. i pack an imaginary covered wagon. i decide how much flour, dry beans and things i'll need to cross the prairies - the whole mary ingles thing, without that annoying, big-headed pa.

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    1. no i don't. i don't have you as a neighbour. go west young woman.

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  4. This post made me laugh-- I can relate. I love the idea of owning chickens and goats, gathering eggs and making cheese. Some of my favorite books are about organic gardening, living on a hobby farm, canning, and learning how to live and eat organically and simply. I have a bunch of those kinds of books. And yes, I've read a couple of those books about folks who make the decision to live off the grid. I'm inspired by all of them and will probably live up to none of them. I'm somewhere in between, I think. And by that I mean, I don't can anything. I garden. I live in a rural area. I'll never own chickens. I compost and eat organically. I'll never give up ice cream and Oreos. ;)

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    1. I'm so glad to know I'm not alone on this. My husband really really wants chickens and I will not do it. They are a mess! And who will take care of them? Me, most likely. I have a hard enough time with the dogs!

      Also, I will never give up ice cream and Oreos too.

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  5. I'm in a weird middle spot. I can enjoy both the city and the country, but in equal parts. I greatly enjoy having use of technology like my iPhone and laptop, but definitely love the moments where I step away and enjoy nature. Though I will say that roughing it out in the wilderness for me would be more akin to setting up a mini tent in the back of my SUV with lots of snacks and cell phone signal. So maybe just in my backyard? ha!

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    1. That is so reasonable, Jennifer. A tent in the backyard or hooked up to our minivan makes total sense. I also chose to have my kids in a hospital, not in a kiddie pool -- not that there's anything wrong with that (I have friends who did and more power to those Amazons!). Maybe we should plan a writing retreat in someone's backyard?

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  6. I grew up in the country and did EVERYTHING I could to escape. I then spent the next 18 years doing EVERYTHING I could to get back. *grin*
    But I agree with you that even in my "I wanna live off the grid" fantasies, I would now officially shrivel up and die without internet access. *sigh*

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    1. I think my fantasies of the wilderness are much cleaner and romantic than reality. I blame Pinterest. Sorry, I've been so behind on your blog, Chris. I promise I'll get over there soon. You're just sooooo prolific! I can't keep up!

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  7. At least you like the idea of the outdoors enough to want to be an outdoorsy type. I grew up unplugged and disconnected. I will never go back!! Nonetheless, we have put a bunch of sneaky blocks on Max's computer so that the idea of doing something that doesn't require a screen seems more appealing that playing the equivalent of Pong.

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    1. Remind me to tell you about the time I tried to live on an organic farm between junior and senior year of college. Hint: disaster ensued.

      Yeah, my kids tend to get sucked into their DS systems or sneak off with my phone or my husband's iPad. As long as they can spend some of their time getting grass stains on their pants, I'm happy.

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