Title: The Rural Life
Author: Verlyn Klinkenborg
Genre: Memoir/ Essays
Length: 213 pages
I don’t remember when I acquired this book, but I do remember the moment I first picked it up. I can’t place the moment in time or identify my whereabouts, but I distinctly remember being drawn in by the off white matte finish and the rich colors of the font. I remember seeing the house and the tree in the circular image, thinking “I want to live there.”
More than ever, I want to live there. We are saving for land and to build our own house. It still feels like a pipe dream, but it is a pipe dream in action. We have little choice but to make some version of it obtainable. We’ve dreamed of 40 acres, our goal is 10. We’ll take just 2 if that’s all we can get. But in all this dreaming and planning and saving, there are a fair number of doubters in our midst. It’s ok, I doubt myself too. But I do know my own mind – no matter how much work it is and whether I can make it happen or not – I want the life Klinkenborg describes in his memoir.
L’Engle sold me on Crosswicks… land and a 200 year old house. Klinkenborg sold me on his gardens, the work of an amateur ‘farmer’ who isn’t a farmer at all but a man who lives as self-sufficiently as he can. He talks of pig farmers, of an Iowa homestead he grew up on, he talks of Texas, and all corners of rural America, and his little journal of country life is endearing.
On lunch breaks at work I’m plucking through a Popular Mechanics publication about how to build log cabins and small houses. Practicality by day and soul searching by night, I may know my own mind but I do like to be sure of things on a fundamental level beyond my desires.
I want to build something that lasts for years to come. I want to work with my hands and create. These are things I’ve always wanted, except before I mostly sketched pictures and wrote books. Before I was sloshing paint on a canvas and writing very poor poetry. I want to continue to slosh paint, write, and tinker with things that are pretty… mosaics are a dream of mine… but I want to build a house that will stand for 100 years. I want a green house where I can watch things grow and dig my fingers in the dirt, eat the vegetables that come out of it. I want to milk my own goat and drink fresh milk while I contemplate character development.
I want my child to have fields and forests to romp in, chores in a barn to do, and chickens to pester.
I want space and fresh air.
I was laughing at work the other day, “I’ve already lived in the city ghetto [Oak Cliff], worked downtown as a server [West End, Dallas]. I did the suburbia routine [enjoyed a number of different sorts of neighbors, had block parties and dinner parties, exchanged mail in the street when our mail-woman proved a useless turd in Spring, TX]. Now, I’m ready to be OUT.”
In short, I want a full resume of human experience, but I want to end on the cozy bits. So when I’m old and gray, would it be too much to ask to be living the rural life like Klinkengborg? I’ll definitely be looking for his other books in the future. I may need them if my dreams don’t come to the fruition I’d like them to.