Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Back to 1900

Fleeing an overstressed yuppie life in Manhattan, writer Logan Ward and his wife Heather, dumped not only their upscale life, but life in their own century. After some searching they found a small farm with a home of approximately correct vintage to live in while turning the clocks back to the year 1900. While they took a very few liberties--Heather continued to be a vegetarian which was not very common in 1900 and neither wore clothing of the period [which to me took some of the pain out of it] but they did go with mostly fibers available at the time. They took a small liberty with transportation by buying "vintage," but not necessarily 1900-era, bikes. And, they engaged in little [acceptable to this reader] wishful thinking--that vulcanized rubber condoms were widely available and acceptable. One "liberty" that did show some common sense was to have a phone line available, but the phone was not plugged in. This was in case of a medical emergency with their toddler who, after all, had no say in this time travel and didn't need to prove the 1900 child mortality statistics to be correct.

When, early in the book, I got to the word "vegetarian" I almost tossed the book--too predictable, too cliched. I could imagine a size 0 woman complaining that she "forgot" to eat. Instead, I ended up liking and RESPECTING both Logan and Heather in their pursuit of something different. The back-breaking hard work of hauling water, splitting wood, etc, was predictable, but the developing community--family, really--that came out of nowhere to support their efforts was so delightful and so unexpected. A rare gem--a neighborhood of caring people. That "Village" Mrs. Clinton claimed it takes to raise a child.

I loved, too, the Charlotte Mason-eque aspects of the project. The development of good work habits, of attention to detail, of time to reflect. I loved that 19th century books, once too complicated to focus on in the face of a sea of electronic interrupts, became a joy. So, too, did nature. Observing nature in the garden, from the seat of a horse-draw wagon or thru the eyes of toddler son, Luther, the Ward's discovered an amazing hidden community of bugs, small animals, plants, you- name-it. The old-time well-thought-out home-crafted gifts, too, brought delight. A pair of handmade chopsticks for heather, real edible fruitcake soaked in brandy, a Huck and Tom raft for little Luther--all made me wish for that type Christmas. The food, garden-fresh, would have delighted an of today's locavores. Then the ending giggle about the luscious homemade herbed goat cheese that still has me chuckling (and craving homemade herbed goat cheese).

This book, like it's visual cousin the "1900 House," makes me want to simplify more, grow more food, but cling tightly to my refrigerator, washer and dryer. It takes real WORK to live so simply!!

See You in a Hundred Years by Logan Ward.

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