Saturday, January 9, 2010

Ten Sleep

This afternoon I plunked down in my home office recliner, finally ready to read the book my daughter got me for Christmas: The Daily Coyote by Shreve Stockton. It was going to happen — I was determined not to put it off another day.

I had spent the previous hour cleaning, and organizing the wires and cables behind the desk in my office. The tangled mass had been shouting at me for quite some time to unravel them and make them neat again. The sight of those wires paralleled my state of mind. Maybe if I could straighten them out, my nerves would follow suit.

With my chore completed it took some time and effort to relax. I kept fidgeting and shaking my foot as though impatient about something. I even made a couple of phone calls in an effort to delay reading. With no one else to call, I kept peering over the top of the book seeing objects that looked askew, and getting up from my chair to fix them. Why that was so important I'll never know. Sometimes my own mind doesn't explain itself to me.

Sparky nestled into my lap, helping to ease my restlessness. Who needs a valium when you've got this?
Once I finally settled down and began reading I soon drifted off to another world — a place completely different from the hustle and bustle of working 40 hours a week, cursing at rush hour traffic, and muttering obscenities under my breath to mean people. I was quickly transported to a place where folks in the community take time for one another, help each other. Where there's space to move around, and land that is breathtaking to behold. I didn't think a place like that existed in the United States, and neither did Shreve Stockton, until she stumbled on it while taking a very brave and exciting cross country journey on her Vespa.

About 10 pages in, I was ready to sell the house and all our belongings, and move to Ten Sleep, Wyoming. Shreve brilliantly weaves a story of a slower paced life with a real connection to the land and animals. Although I don't know if I could rough it the way she has, in a 12' x 12' cabin with few amenities, I'd like to try. Any price seems worth it to have some scenery for my eyes to fall on and a variety of animals around me. City life with all its chaos is sucking out my soul, leaving me dry, parched, and desolate.

Look at this photo of Ten Sleep. It refreshes my spirit.
I was looking down at my sweater tonight with two buttons struggling to hang on and thought, 'You know, you should mend this.' But knowing me, I'll wear it until the buttons eventually fall off, where it will then go neglected in a closet for several seasons before I finally throw it out or donate it.

Where has all my self-sufficiency gone? The bigger question: Did I ever have any? My grandfather built his own house with his bare hands. My grandmother made meals from scratch. They worked the fields, slaughtered cows, wrung the necks of chickens for dinner, and hung clothes out to dry. They patched, repaired, and reused things. In those days there was no running out to buy something on a whim.

Shreve wove her own rugs by cutting strips from wool coats purchased at a second hand store. She carved her own curtain rods out of tree branches. She got a cat to take care of her mice problem. A wood stove was her only source of heat in winter. Could I do that? Do I even have the capacity to think these kinds of things? Knowing me, I'd get to Wyoming and freeze to death. I'd be bitten in the night by rabid rats. I might starve.

Reading about the new life she has made for herself has obviously got me thinking about a different kind of life. I've grown extremely weary of our "shop 'til you drop" mentality. Lord knows, I have more stuff than I know what to do with. Maybe I should start by seeing if I can mend my own sweater. :/


Autumn said...

This post is so well written, and it perfectly captures the ambivalence I feel about living in a city like Dallas. I would love to see you live somewhere that inspires you, that calls to you and challenges you and makes you feel more alive. You deserve more out of life. I wish we could take our whole family with us to live somewhere remote and beautiful.

Gail Dixon said...

Thank you, sweetie. You're young enough to follow your dream and I'm glad you're doing it. Just wish it was a little closer. I too, wish we could move the whole family somewhere for a better life. That's such a beautiful idea. I may start praying for just such a thing.

Teresa Evangeline said...

Ten sleep sounds like a wonderful place. I wonder if I've been through there. The Big Horns are my favorite mountain range. Shreve Stockton also sounds like she's living a life I admire very much. I will need to check it out. A nice post. Thank you!

Kittie Howard said...

Belle, this is a beautiful post. I'm too much of a people person to live such a remote life, but I often think that it doesn't really matter, that our 'cabin' is iniside of us. I just need to get up and get busier...

Gail Dixon said...

Teresa, you should check out Shreve. She's a pretty cool chick. Thanks for stopping by. :)

Ah, Kittie. I'm not as much of a people person so maybe that's why Ten Sleep is so appealing to me. Wish I was more like you!