Friday, June 10, 2011

City or Country?

Jeremy finishing up his semester threw me into a kind of panic.  All of the sudden we seemed significantly closer to graduation, and "real life".  All of a sudden I felt a desire to re-define where exactly where we were headed.
Although the first time Jeremy got some baby chicks (by inheriting them from a highschooler's science project) when he and I were engaged I thought he was nuts--I've grown to appreciate it and desire even more to adopt some of those older practices related to simple living and self-reliance.

If a little is good--then more is better--right?

I love checking in on SouleMama with their move out to the farm this year.  Renovating an old farmhouse, tapping Maple trees, raising chickens and pigs and bees.  There's so much that seems good and desirable about a life like that. 

But lately I've started to feel a lot of pressure about that goal, realizing that we have inconsistencies in our dreams.  Mostly realizing that that dream of living out on a farm and spending most of our time and energy working on providing for our immediate physical needs is not the life that we've been preparing for the last seven years of our marriage.  We've been in school for 7 years, preparing for a profession most-likely located in the urban setting.

And the truth is--there's so much we love about that idea. 

We loved the summer we spent in uptown Salt Lake City.  Jeremy walked to work downtown everyday.  Owen, Jonas and I had two pocket parks within walking distance, and a number of huge city parks within 5-10 minute drives.  We rode the "city train" to the downtown library, to a SLC Real soccer game, and just "around" for entertainment.  We would go listen to free outdoor concerts on Thursday nights at the Brigham Young Historic Park.  We lived above an ice cream and chocolate shop.  We went to the farmer's market on Saturday mornings, and ate at a number of local restaurants.  We loved going to explore and enjoy really well-designed public spaces.  There was also a zoo, a planetarium, a historic living village, an aquarium, splash parks, up to date public transportation, and an airport 10 minutes from downtown.  Remembering all the amenities makes me want to move back there tomorrow!

But the goal of city living doesn't mean I have to give up on all my other goals either.  Chickens are legal in SLC and many other large urban centers as well.  The small amount of gardening we do is possible in a city particularly if we aren't afraid to tear out our front yard to do it.  There are also other opportunities in the city, like community gardens, and supporting local agriculture through a CSA membership or farmers' markets.  And I'm not afraid of urban foraging either.

There's a reason we chose to get started with beekeeping this year, as opposed to getting a goat, or cow or something like that.  Beekeeping is going on in large cities.  When talking the idea of bees over with Jeremy I said how beekeeping seemed like the next logical step for us since we could continue it wherever we go.  It's a skill that we can continue to use no matter where we move next--city or country.

When I told a man at church we were getting bees he surprised me by asking "Really?  Will they be able to make it where you live in town?"  I was surprised because this man is a farmer--shouldn't he know about bees in the city?  But he didn't I realized, because he was a country farmer, and Jeremy and I are city farmers.  They are totally different ideas.  And that was the first time I started to think about my conflicting dreams and which one was really my dream--not someone else's.  

There's a continuously growing group of city dwellers that are interested in being self-reliant, and participating in small-scale production practices within their small lots and neighborhoods.  Jeremy and I have followed a lot of this development--that's why we know all about bees in the city.  The Real Food movement is such a big part of our lives too, along with recycling, reusing, and all manner of "going green".  The sense of community is high and a big motivating factor in a lot of these urban groups, and that to us seems like the biggest difference between city and country--and something we desire.  

It's true, I would love to see my boys running wild and barefoot through the forest.  But maybe my boys will just have to rely on their grandparents for that wild natural play--that's what grandparent's houses and cabins are for right?  And at home my boys will participate in wild urban (or at least suburban) play.  Chickens, bees and vegetable gardens included. And the thoughts of that idea make me truly happy.

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