The Cottage Life

I was reading recently about a Northern Irish lady who lives in a 280 year old cottage without running water or electricity. She grew up in the cottage and still lives much in the way her grandfather did when he bought it in 1887. She cooks her bread on the open fireplace and hauls water from a nearby spring well for washing. I don't want to romanticize her lifestyle to a flowery fiction, rather than the hard-working reality it is; even she says in the article that Americans visit and expect her to be walking to the well in a long black skirt, but she's more practical in trousers. And I don't know what I would do without my Internet or the ease of modern electricity, or even modern stove top to cook on! I know the picture in my head is a romantic one; linen dresses and evenings reading by the doesn't factor in the cold of winter, the work of hand-washing, or the labour in general. Still a part of me persists in day-dreaming about that lifestyle. It reminds me of a Jack London novel; in Smoke Bellew (a very lively read) a young, soft newspaper columnist adventures to the Klondike basically on a dare. It's a struggle at first, he isn't accustomed to the rugged, outdoor lifestyle, but eventually he begins to flourish. His body is toughened and his mind is more challenged--which also reminds me of C. S. Lewis's The Great Divorce in which the narrator journeys towards Heaven but finds his body too ghostly and soft to deal with the beautiful, very solid landscape he comes to; his body is too accustomed to half truths that reality is too solid for him...Both books seem even more relevant in today's world of computer screens (which I'm not against, as 90% of my job involves a computer screen), we are less in touch with nature, let alone reality, than ever before. As hard as I know a lifestyle in an old cottage without electricity is, (and I'm not advocating we abandon all our modern advances, I like my modern medicine thank you very much) there's something about it that also feels right. But I as much as I enjoy the thought of throwing my laptop out a window, selling all my clothes, and learning how to live off the land, I doubt very much that I have the conviction to make that sort of lifestyle stick. I suppose I'll settle for enjoying my old home that has been updated with all the modern amenities and try to switch of my electronics a little more often--after all no one is forcing me to use my computer in my off hours...   


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