Thursday, July 23, 2015

Jetsons meets Little House on the Prairie

When I was little, I was immersed in the Little House on the Prairie books and TV show. Living in Arden, I sometimes imagine I am living in Walnut Grove--but with electricity. Like Laura, I live in a rustic house that looks like it was cobbled together by elves or someone's Pa. We are nestled outside a forest with other houses that look like they came into existence in a similar magic fashion--and are held together in a ways that have baffled home inspectors. We have a creek or two, neither of which is quite a fishing hole material, but one is playing host to a family of beaver this summer.  And when the winter was really bad two years ago, we all banded together until the train came through with supplies and food.  Okay, the thing about the train didn't happen, but we did act pretty neighborly toward one another.

I would say that the way that my life most resembles the Little House books has to do with the community spirit. We don't have sing-alongs, spelling bees or church picnics. Instead we have the Arden Concert Gild, Saturday dinners, and the talent showcase of ACRA summer camp. People walk the narrow streets to get to the events. We chat and catch up. Gossip a little. Ask after the health of a neighbor. Report on a tree down on one of the paths. And yes, we have our very own mean-spirited Nelly Olson who sometimes makes life miserable for those who cross her path. I don't have to name names. Nelly is an archetype who makes her own presence known.

It would be the quaintest of lifestyles except for all the technology. My husband is an IT guy. While I was reading LHOTP books, he was hacking the very early video games so that he could trounce every high score his brother obtained rightfully. Mark's predilection for programming means that above our rough hewn fireplace mantle we have Hue lighting which he can control by his iPhone. I can control them, too, but I haven't found the practice as convenient or user friendly as Mark has. What was wrong with our dimmer switches? In addition we have home security, house cameras, dead bolt we can activate with our touch if our iPhone is on our person. We drive electric or hybrid automobiles. From under our carport, built in the peg fashion, the blue light of our chargers glow against the backdrop of the dark forest.  Computers. Tablets. We have all the gadgets, sans the new iWatch. I am not entirely comfortable with the new technology. It isn't that I am a technophobe. It is just that I don't like the fact that my life changes so quickly before I get used to it all. For example, last week, I  rented a DVD from a grocery store kiosk only to come home and find out that we don't have a DVD drive anywhere anymore. My computer doesn't even have a drive. Mark said he would come home and hook one up, but I had rented the DVD to watch in his absence, knowing he had an after-work engagement. I was so mad that I paid to stream it, cursing that I just paid twice to rent the same mediocre movie.

When I feel that technology is closing in, I sometimes do something that takes me away from it. I read a book, the kind with actual pages made from the pulp of a tree. Or I can some homemade salsa. I sew a skirt. Or I poke a stick at my garden (I am not a great gardener, but I make stabs.) Mark, too, seeks refuge in the natural world after his day working as the head of an IT Department. His latest battle, one that Pa would approve of, entails wrestling our modest leasehold away from the grips of invasive plant life. He is working to eradicate the bamboo, ivy, and lesser celandine which is the bane of village gardeners and the Arden Forest Committee. And jointly, we go for our hikes. The back and forth from nature to technology creates a balance--mostly. 

I am typing this blog post on my MacBook Pro while wearing socks I knit for myself. The windows are open, the breeze is blowing in. It is getting dark in my living room, but not quite knowing the best way to turn on the lights, I will sit in the dark until it is time to walk to the ACRA Summer Program Open House. 

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