A lot of people ask me if the transition from living in a big metropolitan city in Florida to that of a small rural town in North Carolina has been difficult. And the short answer is yes at first – but for selfish reasons. No close shopping malls. No more coffee house chocolaty-mocha latte’ frou-frou drinks. No quaint little dress boutiques to pop into to shop the latest styles. I missed them all terribly. And I missed the dressing up part too – okay the shoes. It was the end of my world as I knew it.
All in all though the move wasn’t so bad, after all the reason I chose Western North Carolina as my destination of choice was to be close to my parents; themselves homesteaders of sorts, to learn how to live this new “self-reliant” lifestyle by watching as they performed skills handed down to them by their parents; and their parents before them.
For the first nine (9) months I watched intently; asking questions along the way, as my mom canned, preserved and cooked from scratch (none of which I did in my er …“other” world – especially the cooking part). I also watched as my dad gardened, harvested and worked with his hand-tools; choosing to manually fix things with odds and ends he’d collected throughout the years opposed to going out and replacing them. My dad; as with a lot of dads, had always said that anything in life worth having was worth working hard for. And he did – they did. No short-cuts. That was just how things were done with my parents – you worked hard for them.
For me, being with my parents was like being at a personal “heritage skills” camp. Me watching as my parents did what came natural to them. My mother the oldest of her siblings didn’t want her children to have the upbringing that she had; cooking, cleaning and caring for her younger siblings while her parents worked. She wanted us to enjoy life, get a good education and make something of ourselves. And, well I can honestly say I did enjoy life – never realizing it could work against me some day.
One beautiful sunny day my parents were driving into town (that’s what people in rural areas call going grocery shopping or to personal appointments) – out of nowhere a person late for an appointment ran a stop sign at a high rate of speed and broadsided my parent’s vehicle killing my dad instantly. Their vehicle was then shoved across the street and into a telephone pole killing my mom. Both parents were taken instantly – as was their knowledge. The end of my world as I knew it had once again come. It was now up to me. No more leaning on my parents’ skills and knowledge. I knew if I was going to survive yet another ‘end of my world as I knew it’ I was going to have to work hard – really hard. Sure, it would have been easier to pack-up and go back to the life I had given up but with that decision would come all those uncertainties – what if there was a devaluation of the dollar?; what if I couldn’t buy groceries?; what if there was a catastrophe causing major traffic gridlocked? (After all there is only one way out of Florida); and, what if there was civil unrest? In my heart I knew the choice I made to live a more self-reliant lifestyle was the right one. I just had to take what my parents had shown me and put it to work. Oh and another thing …that day was the first time in nine months that I had not been behind the wheel driving my parents into town.
Can I say it’s been easy? No; far from it. But like dad said, anything in life worth having was worth working hard for. And I am. I’m learning and doing new things every day.
It’s been three years since my parents were taken. I now grind my own grains to bake breads. I can and dehydrate my harvested fruits and veggies from my garden (I’ll save those stories for a later time!). I milk my goats to make cheese, yogurt and ice-cream and gather duck eggs for baking and cooking.
So, in answer to the question, “Has the transition from living in a big city to a small rural town been difficult?” As I sit out in my gazebo, gazing over the mountain tops; sipping my ‘homemade’ chocolaty-mocha latte’ frou-frou drink, I smile, no this self-reliant lifestyle is good.
I’m now ready for the next end of my world as I know it.
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