Friday, March 11, 2011

A Modern-Day Thoreau

There's a fascinating piece in yesterday's New York Times about the off-the-grid handmade home (more of a compound really) of John Wells, a former fashion and catalog photographer from Manhattan who moved to the West Texas desert to "hash life out on his own terms," following in a long tradition of back-to-the-landers. "His focus is on taming this rough environment to his own frugal needs, and delighting in the mental and physical puzzles it presents. Wind power or solar? What’s it like to hand-mix cement? How much water can you snatch in a half-hour of rain? Can you dam a gully? How do you build a swamp cooler, or an icebox? How long does it take to cook chicken cutlets in a solar oven?"

A typical night at John Wells’s desert homestead. Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

I have an old friend who chose a similar path, heading to the mountains near Marfa, Texas, from Brooklyn to homestead and devote herself to art and sustainability, and these modern-day pioneer stories certainly stoke my imagination. Who knows, maybe there's a compact cabin and a backyard homestead in my future.

Do you daydream about living a simpler life? What does it include? What modern conveniences do you feel you could live without?

2 comments:

lolamoth said...

I loved that NYT piece! Thanks for sharing it here.

Karen L R said...

oh, yes, i feel the longing....it would be such a lovely challenge to pare things down to the essentials. i'm working on it.

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