It’s hard to know where to begin when people ask what I’ve been doing for the last month or so. I’ve summited mountains, learned about ancient Native American cultures and explored parts of the country I’d never seen before. But what’s been most amazing about living on a farm in Colorado is the simplicity that marks my life. I wake up when the sun shines through the windows of the bus I live in, and go to work with the land I live on. I pull weeds out of the ground, use tools to manipulate the soil, and harvest crops on my hands and knees, picking out bugs and wilted leaves. Feeling dirt and living things and getting deep into what our earth is made of has often made me think of our ancestors who first started growing food for their families and communities. Time was about how much light was left in the day and any able-bodied person was competent enough to help out with some instruction. Likewise, I’ve never felt so grateful for my hands and feet, which get me farther here than my college degree. Even as an artist, I’m more amazed at the work of my hands on the farm than on a canvas—how planting a row of seeds with my thumb one inch in the soil produces lettuce is a miracle I feel bewildered and humbled to witness. And my feet have taken me places not even four-wheel drive could—on top of my school bus for stargazing, through Chicken Creek to clean off, down the skinny pathways between beds of squash and peppers. My body is such a vehicle of utility and recreation here that I have begun to slowly forget about my physical appearance and whether I look good. I just feel beautiful because I am happy and I am a part of the beauty here. Most of my clothes have dirt on them, I mostly pee outside and my 20 degree sleeping bag is my prized possession for cold nights in the bus. Sometimes I look up and see the mountains surrounding us and a cool breeze kisses my face, and I cannot help but smile because I am so happy with so little.
I recently moved into the school bus my host farmer renovated into a small trailer-like lodging. For the past three weeks or so I’ve been living in a VW van with a bed and a mini fridge in the back. Something I love about this area is the creativity and self-sufficiency with which people live their lives. I have always felt a little weird for my creative inclinations that some people might call “eccentric”. When I was in middle school I used a pile of old kitchen appliances destined for Goodwill to make art for my friends. In high school, I turned my closet wall into a message board full of my friends’ pictures and inside jokes. And in college I attempted brewing Kombucha, reupholstering an old loveseat with skirts, and making a tapestry out of old earrings and cool sticks I kept. I kind of always felt like the weird artsy kid for all of my projects. But here I see evidence of the same craziness in this renovated school bus, the makeshift greenhouse beds, and the pile of found objects we call a “resource pile.” It’s so inspiring to see people like me follow through with their crazy ideas. Since coming here I’ve foraged for clay and made a few coil pots and bowls, and today I just made a shadow box out of an old desk drawer that I found in the “resource pile.” I really feel like part of the reason God has me out here is to embrace who I am in all of my strange, creative, silliness, even if I feel like I’m the only one doing whatever it is.
I have met so many people who inspire me to live boldly and not be burdened by the opinions of others or what is considered normal. My life doesn’t need to be a series of strategic career decisions or a march towards a specific goal. I am grateful just to have a roof over my head, food in my stomach, and people to sit by a fire with. ❤
Highlights of my trip thus far
- Went to Telluride Bluegrass Festival by myself without knowing any of the bands and met some awesome people while I was hula-hooping who worked at a ski resort in town and let me stay with them instead of driving home early. On the Gondola ride back we were looking at the stars going down from the mountain sitting with five strangers and one had a ukulele. He started playing a Grateful Dead song and all of a sudden our entire Gondola broke out into song.
- Hiking to the top of Helmet Peak and Madden Peak in the La Platas, I thought I was going to pass out but made it!!
- Meeting Dave Holiday, an old and seasoned wilderness therapist dressed in florals, at a coffee shop in the middle of Grand Staircase, who told me stories form the field and encouraged me to adventure.
- I went to the opening of the Mancos Brewery, danced to some salsa and met this girl who ended up inviting me to her bridal shower the next day! She was a sweetheart. The bridal shower was a little awkward because we played a lot of games about her life and I had just met her so I didn’t know any of the answers. HA
- Read up on how to harvest/forage clay and made of small candle-holder for my hosts out of clay from the creek in their backyard.
- Obviously became friends with the baristas in town to the point where they knew my order
- Learned SO much about different plants, weeds and how farming actually works.
…lots more! I will update J