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My Semi-Primitive Life Style
September 22, 2016
by William P. Meyers

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Country Living Experiment End Nears

I just ate two apples from my own tree, a variety called Kidds Orange Red. Soon eating my own apples will come to an end. My wife Jan and I are arranging to move to Seattle. There we will live in an ordinary house or apartment, with ordinary conveniences. The conveniences in ordinary American homes started being added in the early 20th century. They are now so commonplace that people take them as a given, unless they stop working.

Our country house near Point Arena has some modern conveniences, but I enjoy some of the lack of modernness. I will miss my semi-primitive lifestyle, which is really not very inconvenient, and in many ways is a pleasure.

Most people living in the countryside, especially here in California, have all the modern conveniences. They just have to drive further to get to shopping. But most rural people are not blessed with the fine weather we have on the ridge above Point Arena. It rarely gets hot in summer, and seldom freezes in winter.

The main primitiveness I enjoy is thermostat-free living. When I get up in the morning the house is cool even in summer, but is cold in winter. In winter I dress in heavy clothing on the rare cold days: thick wool socks, flannel-lined jeans, layers of warm shirts and perhaps a sweatshirt. I build a fire in the woodstove, and I might turn on a space heater in my office to work. I shed clothes as the house warms. In the Spring, Summer, and Fall I do a lighter version of this routine. On the rare hot day I end up in shorts and a t-shirt.

We could have put in a propane-based central heating system and an maybe even an air-conditioner, but in addition to the installation costs that would add to our monthly bills.

I am old enough (born in 1955) to remember when even middle-class people did not worship Thermostat. Heating yes, but I was not moved into an air-conditioned house until around 1965. And that was Florida. None of the schools I attended was air-conditioned.

For exercise I cut my own firewood. Even so, more trees die each year than I need for warmth. It is the nature of the climate here, where there is usually no rain for six months of each year. You can see the Darwinian struggle of the native pines and manzanitas for the remnants of the winter rains that linger in the soil. Not every sapling can grow to be a giant tree.

Other than that we have electricity from the grid. Some of my friends are far enough from the grid lines that they use solar (and propane) or wind for electricity. We have our own septic system and a well, plus the pumps necessary to have running water. We have hot water. We have land lines, but no cell phone service. Internet service used to be minimal or flaky, but lately the satellite internet service has improved.

It is a long drive to a country store, much lessto a chain-store mall. We do get things via Amazon on occasion, but mostly we try to buy as little junk as possible.

In an emergency I think we could grow enough food to keep from starving, as long as we had electricity for the well. But it would be a lot of work. As it is I grow some vegetables and fruit, but most of our calories are store-bought.

Mostly we will miss our friends and the walks in the woods. But both Jan and I have lived many places. We will make new friends, and we will enjoy walking around a city or its parks.



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