Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Seduced by. . .

When people ask why in the world John and I left the suburbs of Tampa where we were raised to buy a mountainside farm in North Carolina, I usually say that we were seduced by The Whole Earth Catalog and Mother Earth News.

I was cleaning out an unused cupboard the other day and there, along with a slide projector, a box full of change ($219.50), and a bunch of outdated reference books, were those amazing, life-changing catalogs.
 I still remember when I paged through the first Catalog -- suddenly everything seemed possible. I could order a yurt. . . or a book on building a log cabin. Soil test kits, coffee grinders, a guide to film making, common sense childbirth arts and crafts, a ship captain's medical guide (useful when one is days or weeks from medical assistance,)  Snugli baby carriers, underwater prospecting techniques, Cuisinaire rods, the I Ching . . .
Access to Tools, the Catalog's subtitle promised. And though I had a college degree, I quickly realized how very much more there was to learn. English lit was all very well but the Catalog laid out a tempting smorgasbord of potentialities -- art, craft, homesteading, design, engineering, practical philosophy. Our horizons expanded

Obviously, we were drawn to the back-to- the-land niche ( though there was a brief flirtation with the idea of living on a boat. . .) Many of the books on our shelves today were ordered on the Catalog's recommendation.

Now, of course, the Internet offers almost unlimited access to tools and learning.  But I can't bring myself to part with these iconic bits of our past.  And who knows -- they may yet inspire me toward something else.

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21 comments:

Victoria said...

Wow, that was a blast from the past. I remember The Whole Earth Catalog and Mother Earth News, but I haven't thought of them in years. I wouldn't part with them, either!

Ms. A said...

Catalogs for change and 219.50 in change. Change can be a good thing!

Desiree said...

Fascinating learning about these inspiring catalogues. I had not known of their existence before. They provided the ideas and you possessed the drive and enthusiasm to learn about and explore all the potential they offered. Remarkable story!

Thérèse said...

Souvenirs can bring new ideas too...
It sounds like you made the right choice for you.

Marilyn said...

Interesting catalogs. Somehow I don't think that searching the Internet gives the same enjoyment as looking at catalogs like these used to give.
Lovely photos.

Martin H. said...

These catalogues were your atlases. The journey continues.

Pat in east TN said...

Those books/magazines, also gave us the much needed information we needed to make our move to a better/simplier life ... that and getting our boys away from big town living, which we thought at that time wasn't good, ha!

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

Of all the things you mentioned, I think I would move just to see the precious faces on those two cows. They are adorable. It's funny where life takes us and how we got on the road to where we are. Thanks for sharing your story to the mountains.
Sam

June said...

I think Husband has his stash of those publications somewhere, too. It's history, after all.
Finding $219.50 is no small prize!

Brian Miller said...

i went from NC to Tampa, years ago...of course i am back in VA...neat catalogs...and i imagine you are happy you made that decision...smiles.

Star said...

I've never heard of those catalogues but they do sound interesting. I do my bit as far as back to the earth is concerned, trying to do without as many modern conveniences as possible. I would love to have lived on a small-holding when I was younger. Too late now, I'm afraid but I admire you and John for how well you have embraced it since you weren't brought up to that way of life.

Wayfarin' Stranger said...

Oh yes, that's where we all were back then, wasn't it. And now we have children who are following in the same path, at times leading us. Remember the green, earth flags? Jim

Beth said...

I can understand why you'd want to hold onto those. I think lots of folks were inspired by those publications and fantasized about living a self-sufficient life in the country. How wonderful and you and your husband were able to do it and that you seem so happy with your decision!

Barbara Rogers said...

Oh my, I just gave/threw mine away when I again moved...this time also from Tampa to NC. Loved having those Whole Earth Catalogs and looking at them every 5 years or so...which meant it was time to let them go.

Carol@The Writers Porch said...

We left city life in Nashville for the farm in Dickson after my reading Scott And Helen Nearing books about Living The Good Life.

Anonymous said...

Great post! Loved it!

Dean the queena

Joan said...

Oh but you have lived your life to the fullest Vicki.. such an adventure
and the journey goes on ..and i am here inspired!

Deanna said...

You made me grin with memory at the years of Mother Earth News gathering dust downstairs on the bookshelf. They were life changing for us too - although we just moved to the country 20 miles from home. Your move as a tad bit more drastic. I'm a bit envious, though, because visiting your mountains is one of our favorite vacation spots.

Thanks for the blast from the past.

Vicki Lane said...

Oh, I had a feeling there were some old hippies out there! We had stacks of Mother Earth News and Organic Gardening magazines -- I got rid of them a while back.

I loved the Nearing's THE GOOD LIFE too, Carol. Another iconic book for back-to-the-landers.

physican fax solutions said...

Im kinda happy for you documented every parts of it.

Brenda said...

Isn't it interesting how life goes? Because you decided to pick up a copy of Mother Earth News one day, you ended up living the country life in North Carolina. What if you had picked up Surfers International? Okay, I jest, but still - I am intrigued at how seemingly insignificant choices can alter the entire course of our lives. I have had a similar experience.