Travel makes one modest, you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world. – Gustave Flaubert, French novelist (1821-1880)
Traveling leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller. – Ibn Battuta, Medieval Muslim traveler who wrote one of the world’s most famous travel logs, The Rihiah
While walking around the yard my mind wandered to the three-part memoir of a couple, Mary-Jane and Michael Houlton. The Houltons lived in Wales where they sold their home and everything in it in order to buy a boat. For six months out of the year they would cruise the waters of Europe with their two dogs while wandering through canals and mooring wherever they chose. It wasn’t always smooth sailing but their ingenuity was intriguing. Their second adventure book has them wintering in France at their newly-purchased five acres and off-the-grid cabin. All of this happened in the beginning stages of Brexit and the Pandemic. What timing.
I’ve always been drawn to that off-the-grid lifestyle, though in truth I probably have no aptitude for it. The thought of the Houltons and their lifestyle made me think of the lifestyles I have lived. Raised in the Delta in a subdivision, college in a dorm room, a summer in a two-room apartment with a roommate. Graduating into a more upscale apartment, then to a house in a city of 250,000. The next abode was a sixth floor apartment in a metropolis of about 4 million where all is concrete and buildings block the sun; a small greenspace for walking the dogs. The only birds were pigeons.
The following life was to downsize to a travel trailer: oh the freedom it provided along with spacious places, birds, trees, flowers, mountains, oceans, lakesides. Stopping for a seasonal job then on the road again.
Afterwards, sold the travel trailer, settled down, and moved into a rented mobile home in the country. I had never lived in the country and was terrified of snakes. Even a dead snake on the blacktop road was frightening. Then there was the farmer who walked his cows down the road every evening after work. I was terrified of cows. What if they mauled you? One dark night I awakened to the mobile home shifting. Outside my window cows pressed against the mobile home while eating the flowerbeds. By morning the cows were gone as were the flowers. Once a horse appeared at my front door. Another day sitting on the stoop looking over the barbed wire fence into the field, a cow with some difficulty stood up. She had been so quiet I didn’t know she was there. Then I saw the newborn calf. She had calved in utter silence. I could get used to this.
A tornado took the mobile home so a house was next, and then a dome tent. Over a year in the tent taught me everything it could about nature, the earth, sunrises, sunsets, season’s changing, and the presence of God. I was not frightened and not exactly off-the-grid with a long electric cord, access to water, and a radio.
Seasons in life change and you never know how or when but I do think the Prairie house, with all its serenity, nature, love, and comfort, could be the end of the trail though the Houlton’s off-the-grid kit sounds a bit interesting.
Shannon Bardwell is a writer living quietly in the Prairie. Email reaches her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can help your community
Quality, in-depth journalism is essential to a healthy community. The Dispatch brings you the most complete reporting and insightful commentary in the Golden Triangle, but we need your help to continue our efforts. Please consider subscribing to our website for only $2.30 per week to help support local journalism and our community.