Reflections on 4 years past (by Salem)

Here at the beginning of my 5th year living and growing here in Bloomington, it’s hard to imagine I ever lived any other way.  I’m in the heart of my groove and it feels smooth.  Small confession: 5 years ago I knew very little about all this stuff.  At least it seems that way now.  Sure, I’d read beaucoup books, completed the Permaculture Design course, and worked with Kevin Yates at Hungry Gnome in Athens, Ga for a year, but practically speaking I was green.  Green, lithe, and enthusiastic to experiment and learn.

Now, wow, I guess I got my degree in homesteading and feel competent in the gamut of related skills: All things plants, natural farming, tree-felling (except that one), raising animals, building a home (and taking one apart), masonry, pond creation, terracing, water management, and building a business (or two).  And the crazy part is there’s still so much more to learn!  I’m hoping to add bee-keeping, chainsaw repair, and more things I haven’t even thought of yet.

The funny thing about this, though, is that it all seems so common sense.  Living simply really is just that.  It just takes work, a lot of it, Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours.  I really believe anyone with the motivation can do this.  When I give presentations, like the one on Permaculture at Hilltop Gardens back on a snowy February day, people ask if I studied this stuff in school.  Nope, I’m a bachelor of psychology and english.  And besides, what university actually teaches you practical skills, especially ones necessary to surviving from the Earth sustainably?  There is so much land around here that needs people on it, tending it cleverly and respectfully.  The rewards are invaluable.  Just look and listen…

Sunset over Lake Monroe

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