My husband, daughter and I took a much needed trip to visit my parents this weekend. They live a little over two hours north of us in a small town west of Traverse City called Lake Ann, Michigan. We go there to relax and enjoy their company, but not nearly as often as we should.
Their farmhouse sits on 40 acres of land and only one of the two other houses on their road is visible from theirs. The stars are always brighter there on a clear night. The darkness is always darker there on a moonless night. They do not have any light pollution, sound pollution, water pollution or air pollution. Everything is fresher there, everything tastes and smells better there.
Their nights are usually filled with the occasional hoot of an owl or howl of a coyote. Maybe even the rustling of a herd of deer passing by. The night we arrived was just filled with snow, lots of snow, plus the occasional rush and crash of the snow as it slid off the metal roof on their house and slammed to the ground. There were also a few flashes of lightening followed by the rumble of thunder. Thunder snow? That can’t be good.
The wall of snow that slid off the metal roof.
By morning it had snowed at least 24 inches. We awoke to a brisk chill in the room and slowly realized that the thick, wet, heavy blanket of snow had damaged many trees and snuffed out the power. We slowly became aware of the fact that we were stuck there until we dug ourselves free from the snow. Once that monumental task was complete we were at the mercy of the county snow plow to come and reconnect us to the main road. We assumed we weren’t a priority as I mentioned earlier that there were only three homes on the entire road, which is out in the middle of nowhere, in a small town.
Brian digging our car out of the snow.
We decided that this was probably the best place to be stranded. That is because my parents are used to living simply. We tease them sometimes that they live like Amish people. They heat their home with wood, use a wood cook stove, dry their clothes on a clothes line or by the fire and they do not have a TV. Yes, I said they do not have a TV. In a world obsessed with instant gratification, convenience and overstimulation, my parents live simply. They grow their own food in their organic garden and can or dry the excess that can’t be eaten right away. They cook from scratch not a box. They eat fresh local dairy and meat products. They have a mulch pile and a recycling bin.
Late that afternoon and into the evening my stepdad cooked the most amazing “emergency meal” on the wood cook stove, partially in the dark. He made pork steaks (from a friend’s pig) roasted with potatoes from their garden. It was topped with sautéed mushrooms and onions and served over noodles. There was also a rosemary, potato, chicken and cheese casserole for me because I don’t eat red meat. We all decided that it was one of the best meals we had ever eaten. We all helped with the “chores”, then we sat by the wood stove and kept warm. We talked, isolated by the snow storm, but together, enjoying each other’s company. There is something about being “unplugged” from the world of technology and that makes you more “plugged-in” to reality and your family.
View of my parent’s road after the snow storm.
That night as I lay bundled up in bed I thought about how dependent we have become on “things” to do the work for us. How we work at jobs we hate and we run around all stressed out. We do this to make money, to afford the “things” we need, that are supposed to make our lives better and more convenient. It becomes this vicious cycle of consumption and exhaustion. At that moment I decided that I would like be more dependent on myself and to find things to eliminate so I would need less money to live and in turn would work less. I realized that creating a healthy body can also be about simplifying your environment and your relationship with it, as well as the foods you put into it. With that thought there was a sense of peace and calm that ran through me as I drifted off to sleep that can only be achieved in the absence of technology.
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