For things doable outside Dominant Society
I live in Stumptown, West Virginia. If I mention it, most non-local folks will ask, “What’s it near?” The truth is, Stumptown isn’t NEAR anything, but I can often at least get them close with, “It’s west of Glenville State University on Route 33.” In truth, we’re closer to Grantsville, in neighboring Calhoun County — even assigned a Calhoun phone prefix for our landline. And that one-flashing-traffic-light town is still about 14 miles away.
For the most part, like many valley farms, ours is in a bowl. Surrounded on three sides by immediate hills, in a wide enough valley to prevent any blockage of the sun. We’re not “on the way” to anywhere, not where folks can easily “just stop by,” and though we have neighbors (mostly family), they’re far enough away that we can barely hear each other, much less see each other.
Spend three or four days here — let alone weeks — and that 14 miles from town, in your mind, feels more like 14 million miles. From here to a nearby planet.
And, our house was never meant to be a house. It was built to be a recreation building for Hersman’s Recreation Park — summer use only, no closets, no storage, with an upstairs open floor plan. And — we’re a bit behind on upkeep. Without any demand for “curb appeal” (there is no curb) or city ordinances, we’ve gotten a little too relaxed perhaps with “proper lawn procedure.”
And I am grateful the entire world can’t drive by and see our constant remodeling and re-organizing. In our lives, we’ve collected and hoarded stuff, much of it construction and project materials, but also antiques, truck toppers (for trucks we no longer drive), feed buckets, and “that’s cool and/or interesting, I need to take it home and find a way to enjoy it” stuff.
But, we also have a difficult time parting with stuff and finding time to manage, remodel, and enjoy our stuff. And when it’s all just stuff — it really isn’t so cool anymore. But, we’re getting there. Prioritizing projects, reorganizing, adapting to what we have, and the time we have to do something with our stuff.
As I said, I am grateful that very few ever view our always-under-construction zone.
Since it’s the season for gratitude, and I’m trying to incorporate more gratitude in my ongoing living, I decided to make a list of other things I am grateful for, things that Dominant Society cannot enjoy to the same level country bumpkins can.
I am grateful I can walk out to the chicken pen in my nightshirt and underwear, in clunky garden clogs, messy hair bun, and an unplucked chin. That I can mow in my bathing suit, and garden in my bra.
I am grateful that when I take a bubble bath in our jacuzzi tub, I can add bubble bath and turn the jets on to produce bubbles that overflow the tub and run out onto the concrete floor and towards the drain because our shower/tub room was once the women’s showers.
I am grateful that when I’m out in the gardens, walking the dogs, or hiking, and I have to pee, I can pee where I am and don’t have to walk back to the house. (I keep TP in my farm apron.)
I am grateful that when I’ve got my music playing on our stereo (which has speakers on two floors and around the outside of the house), I can crank it UP and dance and sing around the house and yard without anyone getting offended, upset, or calling the crazy wagon.
I’m thankful I can, when they insist upon doing so, let my dogs bark at nothing for an hour in the evenings. Our beagle especially is obsessed with her own words and the way they echo through the valley.
I’m thankful I can “nature bathe” whenever I want, in multiple locations. I can sit in the yard, lay in the hayfield, sit amongst giant stones, wander off into the woods. This may seem like a small thing, but I have come to learn it is essential for my overall well-being. Morning sun sparkling across a heavily frosted field. Watching a leaf twist and turn on its way from branch to soil. The lone duck that hangs out on the lake all day, just to welcome more of his feathered kind every evening at dusk.
I’m grateful I can tend to our home, produce and raise our own foods, and work remotely on my own schedule — all business up top, in my leggings and house slippers off camera. (And get rid of stuff, and finish projects.) That I can finally establish a work/life balance.
I’m thankful I have time now for devotions, yoga, and meditation. Again - simple things, but excellent for pain management, strength and balance, and mental and spiritual health. I have found journaling again, cathartic, creative, and filled with plans, dreams, and mind-maps on how to accomplish them.
I am grateful seclusion allows for intentional living. I can (and do) select my news, information, activities, and social interactions, in person and online. I am extremely thankful I have been able to prioritize real life over scrolling and can choose where I invest my energies without the undue (and unreliable) influence of others and Dominant Society.
I am grateful for the non-human creatures in my life. The flock of finches partying in the pine tree, dining on seeds from the pinecones. The deer that has no fear of me, our cat, or dogs. The house wren that likes to pop in for a brief inspection when I prop the doors open for fresh air.
And, of course, I am grateful too for you Dear Reader. What good are written words no one reads? Even my personal journals are brought out again to be reviewed by future me. And while I am nothing more than a leaf falling from branch to soil, I am finding beauty in the motion and music of the dance in between. I’m so glad to have you here with me as I find joy in my simple living discoveries.
What do you have or do in your life that makes you grateful that perhaps others might not enjoy or understand? What are the joyous expressions you cherish that others might laugh or scoff at? What are some of the goofy things you a grateful for?
Happy Thanksgiving. Count your blessings — hillbilly or otherwise.