One of the motivators for us in turning this lot in the city into a homestead was that in our minds – there’s just something not right about living in such proximity to other people. Now, it’s not that I don’t like people. I do. It’s not that I don’t like the modern convenience of being 5 minutes from the store – there is just something about the ideal of country living to me that speaks to my core.
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it here or not, but my ideal place is on a 10 acre plot, with the house smack dab in the middle of the parcel. No one around you for 5 acres on any side… I like the open green space, and I like it quiet. Here at the Little House on 17th Street – the cacophony of sirens can wear on you, and the constant car traffic at times – can really get on your nerves.
There is something calming and peaceful about life in the country that the city simply can’t offer.
… and now there is scientific proof to back it up. A recently released study by the American Chemical Society has shown that increasing frequency of depression and mental health issues can be tied to increased urbanization, and simply trading your gray backdrop for a green one can make a huge difference in one’s outlook on life.
That was one of the motivators (aside from the housing market going belly-up) that led us to start this particular homesteading project. It was our attempt at creating something we could be pleased with – that would help to make us happy. Instead of it nagging at us that we couldn’t get to that dream home in the country… and likely never will – we brought the country to us.
There are times however, when even we have to get away. We have to simply get out of the city, get off the paved roads and get into the woods. My favorite places to go are many of Oregon’s rivers and watersheds. I have an intense passion for fishing and hunting, and much of my time in the woods is spent in these pursuits. There is something incredible about getting up at the crack of dawn, walking into the silent woods as the forest begins to awaken around you, the crunch of the leaves under your feet, the swishing of the grasses along the river’s edge… the lacerations from the Himalayan blackberries that are EVERYWHERE, (wait.. that wasn’t so pastoral..) but there is something soothing about getting out and tossing in that first cast into a perfect seam, the anticipation and the adrenaline surge from the takedown.
It recharges you.
I have recently lost some of that charge and my batteries have felt pretty depleted in that department lately. The last time I fished was last January. Yup, 1 full year ago… Life has been so chaotic, and nuts – and it’s not that I haven’t had the time – I simply haven’t made the time, and there’s something seriously wrong with that.
In that vein, I had the chance tonight to attend the ODFW (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife) meeting where they unveiled to the public their Coastal Multi-Species Plan. Essentially a plan that will shape the fisheries management policies on the coastal rivers of Oregon for the next decade and a half – naturally – I wanted to be sure to be there in order to hear what is being planned, as well as air my concerns with the aspects of the plan that I feel are not beneficial. There was a group of us there, folks that I know well who had concerns, and I feel the meeting was productive overall, but as I returned home this evening replaying parts of the meeting in my head – I realized there were a lot of folks in there fighting for the resource – working hard to ensure that these fish will be around for many generations – yet here I am – and I haven’t even taken an opportunity in over a year to get out and enjoy the resource while it was here.
One of my favorite quotes, by a writer named Edward Abbey popped into my head.
Be as I am – a reluctant enthusiast….a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive them.”
I’ve somewhat lost sight of this bit of wisdom in the past year… the past year was capped by work, home, more work at home, wasting time, more work… I’ve come to the conclusion that I need a mental health break. I think it’s time to start focusing on getting my hind end back into the woods, getting down to the river, and creating some memories with the family out in the beautiful wilds of Oregon… perhaps this weekend is a good time to start.