Stick in the Mud
July 20, 2011 § 5 Comments
We do not take regular vacations. We do not take summer vacations for all the obvious reasons: Cows to be milked, pigs to be slopped, chickens to be fed, firewood to be cut, split, and stacked, hay to be hayed, blueberries to be picked, and on and on and on. In the winter, when the farm demands least, we do not take vacations for other reasons: Wood stoves to be fed, quarter-mile driveway to be plowed, solar system to be monitored. And still, cows to be milked, chickens to be fed, and on and on and on. We also do not take vacations because, generally speaking, vacations cost more money than staying put.
A few years back, we corralled an adventurous family into the task of house-sitting during December and January. I bought an old Dodge van off Craigslist; we built a bed into the back, packed it with two months worth of staple foods, strapped kayaks and bikes onto the roof, and drove south. We spend nearly eight weeks exploring the state parks in Florida, which are stunning. We also managed to time our trip to coincide with the coldest southern winter in recent history. During our time in the Everglades, the temperature dropped to 34-degrees. Fish were dying and I was cursing. Still, the trip as a whole was splendid fun.
And yet we were ecstatic to return home. This is yet another reason we don’t take regular vacations: We just don’t feel like them. Yes, we work hard. Yes, we are busy. But it is work and busyness of our choosing. It is self-inflicted and it is satisfying and gratifying in a way that seems to build on itself and carry us until the season changes and the rhythm of our life necessarily changes. Do I get tired? Yes. Do I get frustrated? Yes. But I can honestly say that on at least nine of ten mornings I awaken excited for what the day will bring.
I realize I run the risk of sounding like a stick in the mud. And to be clear, I do enjoy seeing other parts of the world; I’ve been to Europe, Tobago, and both coasts of Canada. But the more time I spend on this land, the more connected I feel. Not just to the land, but to my family and animals, and the community around me. The more time I spend on this land, the more I feel as if the traveling I truly want to do is not of the physical kind, but of the sort that will continue to deepen these connections.
The more time I spend on this land, the more time I want to spend on this land. I’m not sure how to describe how happy this makes me.