July 04, 2002

Goose Creek Part II

This is Part Two of Goose Creek: Finding Our Place

Goose Creek: Prologue

There is really no true beginning to our story, as every event in our lives, in infinite regression, is the outcome of prior events; of momentum and inertia, choice and chance, omission and commision...going back to our zygotic beginnings and beyond, perhaps to the primordial ooze, or Adams apple. But for the sake of our story, lets say our journey's beginning happens on the south side of Birmingham, Alabama in the early 70's.

Married, fresh out of college and even fresher parents of a screaming baby girl, we longed to leave the failing civilization of our day, and return to 'the land'. I had purchased 10-speed bikes for both of us to avoid the long gas lines resulting from the 'Arab oil embargo'. We were living in a second floor apartment at "la Claire Vista", where on many days, French notwithstanding, you couldn't see the middle floors of the tallest downtown office buildings because of the nitrous oxide brown haze. I couldn't find work in biology (I had a job but it was not real work) because all the Viet Nam vets were returning in droves with GS bonus points to outcompete all us 'civvies' for what few jobs there were in the soured economy.

I was raised in the city of Birmingham, but my soul was always at rest only when I was out of the city limits. Ann and I both knew we must find land soon and gain some self-sufficiency in a new and promising place...but we had no idea where to start looking. We purchased a book, Finding and Buying Your Place in the Country, that was to guide us, in resolute but staggering stages, toward our intended lifestyle. In this book was everything we did not know (which was everything) about what, where, and how to find rural property and make a life on it. Armed with this homesteader's 'bible', the hubris and naivete of youth, plus a subscription to Mother Earth News, our dream, if it had a starting place, began just here.

But a dream apart from action is only fiction. How were we to make this a reality? As I used to tell my advisees who wanted to know what to do with their lives: "You can't drive a parked car. There has to be some forward motion if you're gonna steer".

Our first forward motion toward our new and unknown life on the land was to buy warm coats. We knew we would be moving north, away from the torrid swelter of Dixie and toward real seasons, snow, and mountains. I ordered a down jacket and a 20-below-zero sleeping bag...an investment toward hope. I sat on the steps at night, when the temperature fell below 80, in that jacket, a prop to help me imagine being in that place where the weather would suit my clothes. The dream had surely begun and we were certain that we would know it when our time and place arrived. Then we waited. And waited.

Posted by fred1st at July 4, 2002 07:10 AM
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