Living Close to the Land, A Lost Art?

Yoga at the Tipi, North Cascades, Leavenworth, WA

Yoga at the Tipi, North Cascades, Leavenworth, WA

By Randy Richards, Founder
Executive Director
Mountain Spirit Institute
Images: R Richards

Alternative structures are getting more attention these days, especially with the spector of dwindling non-renewable petroleum products for building and heating materials. Simple living is more than an idealist notion. Cody Michaels, a longtime  friend and solo pianist extradonaire, just swung by my town for a performance at our local CoffeeHouse. His performance is a reminder that we actually need to live and  breath outdoors more. He and I went for a walk to the top of a hill overlooking Lake Sunapee just before his gig. We wer just in time to catch the sunset too. It seemed bitterly cold,  (read, There is no bad weather, just bad clothes), but it was worth it. Cody shared his appreciation of the wind whipping through the bare branches, and the artist’s light that cuts through the landscape at an obtuse angle this time of year.
Living outside has become a lost art for the majority of Americans. In my tipi days, I always enjoyed the circular living structure. Occasionally, when a visitor might bring a dog, often times, the a dog would go walk nerveously round and round along the inner walls of the tipi looking for a corner in which to sit. To no avail. Even our domestic pets are used to the square structures in which we all live. 

Home base, warm yurt, Sunapee, NH

Home base, warm yurt, Sunapee, NH

My tipi has been put up every year though,  for the Sunapee SunFest, but I don’t live in it any more. My yurt, now that is a cool structure. It’s toasty warm, and clean living off the grid with solar panels, gravity feed shower, composting toilet and a hand dug well. I’ll write more on yurt living in another post.  I had it up for 5 years in Sunapee, NH on Ryder Corner Road. The different reactions I received from different neighors was worth noting. The old time locals, who grew up on local farms thought it was the best thing, a great addition to the neighborhood.  Ohers were less clear about their feelings of the thing.

Yurt interior w/loft

Yurt interior w/loft

Reactions varied from polite disdain, a blank stare, or possibly a somewhat condescending chuckle. It’s only worth mentioning because as illustrated in the movie “Escape from Suburbia” we may be headed for voluntary simplicity whether we want to or not.  I’m not a Chicken Little thinker, however, watching the aformentioned movie made me sit up and take more notice. It might be worth your time.

A confession is due here. I’m not living as close to the land as I’d like. I’m not growing my own food, (although I do eat from friend’s gardens once in a while.) And I’m not in my yurt. However I forsee my partner and I taking action on this. I’m glad I have the background I do, having lived in my tipi and yurt. As Richard Louv says in his lecture and book “Last Child in the Woods”, my past experiences give me a touchstone, a reference point that helps me know my place in the natural world. My life is still more green than most, but I’ve still got goals to reach. I suggest you do the same. 

Living closely to the earth not only makes sense, it can be much more fun than being in the rut of spending all those non-renewables.

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One Response to “Living Close to the Land, A Lost Art?”

  1. Environment and nature » Blog Archive » Living Close to the Land, A Lost Art? Says:

    […] Read the rest of this superb post right here […]

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