For years I have been longing to look out my window and see fields. I have said to Peter a thousand times that I need to see nature, my soul has been keening, "Arooooooo", like the primal cry of an unwilling ex-patriot.
The thought that our kids have been seeped in suburbia has been grating on me for years -- the fact that they haven't had the opportunity to tromp through nature aside from parks, or seen the entire pallet of stars because of urban light pollution, and have never smelled a cow pie up close.
Peter and I both lived in the countryside for a portion of our childhood and it has had continuing impact on both of us as adults. We moved to rural Virginia two months ago. One of the first purchases we realized we needed to make was BOOTS. And the christening of a "mud room" -- on the back porch. I ask you, how many people in a cul de sac have a place to hang their barn clothes?
The best part of this place is the horse farm. The kids have met the owner and she hired all of them as part time stable hands. When they come home they really do smell like a barn, but it's the wholesome smell of hard work. Nothing like manure to purify the soul.
I've often worried about the problem of modern culture permeating the minds and sensibilities of children. One of the hugest coups in corporate history, to me, is the seduction of millions of innocents who have been duped into thinking that the sharp haired, pointy nosed, whiney mouthed, mean spirited cartoon characters of anime are worth the time and money spent on them. I say to my children, Abraham Lincoln didn't watch anime and he turned out all right. JESUS didn't have anime and we all know about him. So there. Enough of the pervasive seduction of the popular culture. I rest my case.
In this new house we can't get Cable TV, we can't get DSL, we don't have Satellite TV (yet) and we don't have video games. I encouraged my boys to find something creative to do with their free time. I was thinking in terms of learning to play the piano, sculpting with clay or practicing manly clog dancing. Instead, they go into the corn field and pull up the broken stalks and throw them at each other. They call it "Corn Wars". While my daughter is arranging her room or reading a book, the boys go out to hurl dirt and roots at each other. They come home with painful corn stalk slivers stuck in their fingers. They are bonding with the earth.
A couple of weeks ago we had the first snow of the season, mixed with sleet and freezing rain. The days were spent taking ocean boogie boards and attempting to slide down the back slope. Soaking and bruised they came in, red faced and damp haired, wiped out from the romp in the cold.
The four of them came in to change wet clothes, drink hot chocolate, inhale plates of macaroni and cheese, and then return to the fray. It was their first real experience with sledding in a winter setting for more than a single day. In Virginia Beach, if it ever snowed it melted the next day. I loved that they were outside, playing with God's playthings and not inside pushing buttons and zoning out in the electronic mind-rot realm. They stayed outside all day and long after dark, sliding and shouting under the moon.
I'll take this over suburbia any day. Besides, the house was nice and quiet and I could catch up on my soaps.
Written in 2002
Kim lives in Maine, which is lovely, and where she continues her enthusiastic relationship with Art, Music, Nature, Books, Animals, Humor and Trees.