I'm just returning from an unexpected trip to a rural area of the East Coast - aka "Real America" - near the state line of Maryland and West Virginia, and I wanted to share some observations that I made while I was there.
First off, I am impressed with and amazed by the connection to the land that the people who live there forge. Really you don't have a choice ... if you grow up there, or if you make the choice at some point in your life to move away from civilization, you are confronted with the trees, animals and earth nearly every time you step out of the house. It is breathtaking. And you have to improvise as well. Every time we wanted to go somewhere, we had to cross a one-lane wooden bridge over a large creek that many people I know would simply balk at. But there it was, and it even had a toll booth.
That said, I feel a little wiser for the experience. What troubles me about these rural inhabitants is that no one is truly disconnected from the grid, and drawing resources so far out in the middle of nowhere, I feel like many of these dwellings are doing a disservice to the landscape. I wish I had seen a house that was really integrated with the land, that used solar power or wind for energy, that collected and filtered its own water, and that had its own thriving vegetable garden for food. Unfortunately I did not see such a house, and few of the homes I did see were actually attached to farms. I don't think I could ever live so far away from civilization without making my home completely self-sufficient. We have infrastructure for a reason and until we can figure out how to make these types of self-sustaining homes, the fringe-dwellers are only stretching our already-thin resources.
I come back to my idea of living in the city then (as if I had ever left). And I love cities, many of them, for reasons such as those presented by this article in the NY Times, which discusses an "an election contingency clause" presented by the owners of two condo developments in Manhattan which allows buyers to back out of contracts signed between now and Election Day if Barack Obama fails to win the presidency. No, I'm not kidding. Does anyone else think this is brilliant? I mean, fair play to their marketing department for getting themselves free press in the New York Times, not to mention facing reality.
So upon my return from the "Real America", where I did see many McCain-Palin signs, but also many Obama-Biden signs, I thought I would give a shout out to all of my people in "Fake America" who know that life will get better for ALL Americans if Obama is elected. Seven days before the most anxiety producing election I have ever known, my fingers are crossed.
The Awesome Obama HQ in "Real America", aka Cumberland, MD