Well, my trip to the Huntington is canceled until tomorrow, the 5th. We forgot about the holiday! So, instead of gazing at artwork and gardens, I will be planting some herbs and ground cover this morning, and grilling a lamb shish kebab which has been marinating since last night.
As life and times seem to get increasingly more complicated, I often wish for a life that is less so. I expect this is just a purely sentimental and unrealistic thought as I imagine about how uncomplicated life was out on the prairies in the late 1800s.
A couple of years ago, we drove from California to Wisconsin to visit family, taking a month to do it. We took the I-80 through the middle of the country, traveling through places like Nevada, Wyoming, Nebraska and into Illinois. I spent my childhood in rural Illinois, and having lived so long now in the dry climate of California, I forget the lushness and green-ness of trees and fields, as well as the humidity, of the midwest in summer. We came back along the I-90, and driving through Minnesota and South Dakota, I was pulled by the openess of the prairies.
Of course, life was not easy in the last part of the 1800s out on the prairies. The Little House series of books, by Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter Rose Wilder Lane, point this out. Still, life had a much slower pace. There weren’t cell phones, cars, computers. Certainly there were far less people per square mile. Too, women could not vote, diseases got you, and housework was a dreadful chore. Today, we have survived world wars, and are currently swimming along with increasing unemployment, lack of health insurance, and state and federal budgets that are scary for their deficits and overspending. Other parts of the world are overwhelmed by religious fanatics and political despots.
In the 1880s there were similar problems, affecting a smaller population, but still as devastating. Local problems did not have the global impact they have now. I rather like the idea of being less caught up in global problems, but I don’t know that I want to wash my clothes in the river or have to slaughter my own chickens, much less be caught up in the societal strictures of the times, like clothing. In 100 degree weather, corsets and long-sleeved dresses do not hold much appeal! At least today I can wear shorts! Yet the allure of a simpler life still holds.
In short, then, I really do wish I was not so dependent upon others, and less impacted by global events. Nonetheless, I love having a washing machine, a garbage disposal, indoor plumbing, antibiotics, and the internet.
Independence nowadays may mean taking risks to create your own life, and find a zone of quiet in all the ruckus of the world. This may be far more difficult than it was in the last part of the 19th century….