Friday, August 31, 2012

Living the Good Life

Yup. This pretty much sums it up.

When the temps get over 90 degrees, its too dang hot to do much of anything here in Georgia.  As a result, when not taking the dogs to Jekyll Island to swim,  we do pretty much what Ruby is doing in the above photo.   Well, I'm usually sitting at my laptop solving the world's problems by giving people my welcome and sage advice on Al Gore's internets message boards, or reading a book, or watching old westerns on TV.  Pam plays Angry Birds on her iPad.

Did I mention that I'm reading a book?   Its called "Living the Good Life; How to Live Sanely and Simply in a Troubled World", written by Helen and Scott Nearing and first published in 1954.   The Nearings moved from New York City to a small run down farm in 1932, the height of the Depression.  It seems that being a vocal communist anti-war college professor didn't set too well with some of the folks down there, so they decided to change course and move.   Scott was 49 and Helen was 28.

The Nearings decided to live as self-sufficiently as they could.  They built their own home and outbuildings using stone from their own land using the Flagg Method (forms and stones and concrete).   They grew most of their own food and bartered maple syrup and other crops to get what they couldn't grow.   They didn't keep animals, and grew organic vegetables. 

After making their Vermont farm a success and living independently for many years,  they decided to move to Maine.  Scott didn't like the new Stratton Mountain ski resort being built nearby.   The Nearings had purchased their farm and subsequent farms for $2,200, but with all the improvements they had made and the new ski resort driving up land prices, their farm was then worth $6 million (in today's dollars).   The Nearings were a different kind of folk.  They didn't believe in making profits from their work.  Scott kept detailed records, and when building and selling a stone house, for example, he would price it at the cost of materials plus their labor at local rates.  so instead of selling their land for $6 million, they donated their 600 acre Forest Farm to the town to be used as a town forest.  Yep.  Gave it away.

Not surprisingly, this book is often credited with being the inspiration for the hippy communes of the 1960s and 70s.

One toke over the line, sweet Jesus...

I guess their chosen lifestyle worked.   Helen passed away in 1995 at the age of 91, and Scott died in 1983 at the age of 100.   I wonder if Willard read his name on the Today Show?   If he did, Scott wouldn't know.   He didn't own a TV.


  1. I swear it's in the genes. Good health is the key. None of these stories happen to normal people.

  2. There is a sign on the Nearings' homestead kitchen wall in Maine that reads: "Youth is a gift -- Age is a work of art."