Tag: berryville

How rural living prepared me for the quarantine

Considering I’ve been self-isolating a bit earlier than when the quarantine became mandatory in my country (Spain), I’m now on Day 33 of my stay-at-home life. So I’ve started wondering, What would I do if this was 1990 instead of 2020? How would my ‘quarantine lifestyle’ be like?

Riccardo Mori’s How I’d live this quarantine if it was 1990

I really enjoyed this post from Riccardo Mori about what it would be like to quarantine at home in 1990 instead of 2020. Our lives would not have looked much different.

I’d have lots of books to read (or finish reading) at my disposal.

I’d have tools and materials I could use to write my fiction, from an Olivetti electric typewriter, to a old IBM PC AT connected to a printer.

I could keep in touch with friends and relatives via landline telephone.

I could get the news and a bit of entertainment from TV, radio, and papers.

I could listen to vinyl records, CDs, and cassettes on the home Hi-Fi stereo, or in my room with my old Walkman. My parents owned a fair amount of records, there was always music in our home.

In 1990 I was still living with my parents, so if we wanted to spend time playing together, we would take out our boxes of board games and cards.

In 1990, I was 9 years old so my life would look drastically different. I’d be on a farm with dial-up internet. (We had 26400 bps on a good day). I wouldn’t be worrying about how my investments were doing, nor what I’d be making for dinner every night.

I wouldn’t be doing any of the adulting tasks I would now. I would be playing outside in the woods. Riding my bike around the dirt roads. Playing video games and reading books (I was a voracious reader.)

I would not be distant learning through any video chat. I wouldn’t be working on assignments online. There was barely a line then and it had to be turned on with a telephone line. It was still a process to go online.

Instead of trying to think about the obvious differences of being a child instead of an adult, I think about how my life then has prepared me for life now.

I have a lust for learning and reading. That started young and never stopped. I tore through books and read through anything I got assigned or got my hands on from our local library. Rural libraries are a gift and a lifeline.

I always had projects to do. When I was a kid, it was teaming with my brother in NBA Jam to keep track a record book of our accomplishments, or keeping track of where we were in Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger or Secret of Mana.

I had a steady supply of books and acres of open space to run around in and explore. I grew up on an 82 acre farm, then 40 acres. I could barely see a glimmer of lights at night from the neighbors house in the winter when the leaves were off the trees. It was 60 miles form the capital of our country, but felt an entire world away from everything.

I think about that all the time. Even more now as we’re sitting inside trying to figure out how to make dinner interesting and what pantry items we can use up today.

I think about how well growing up in the country prepared me for having to manage my own entertainment and fill the hours of my days.

The internet has certainly given more opportunities for exploration and communication. But learning to fill the unstructured hours of my youth prepared me well for the modern Quarantimes.

On a Slower Life

We are very much products of where we’ve come from. My life is strongly colored by my upbringing. I grew up on a farm. I grew up around animals. I had trees and fields. I took bike rides and wrote in notebooks.

I did not have cable television. I did not have the Internet until later in my adolescence, and even then did not have broadband connectivity until college.

I grew up slower.

I wasn’t ignorant. I read voraciously. I wrote and thought. I shared my thoughts in that fledgling collection of wires and computers. I talked to classmates and spent hours on the phone with a friend talking to the wee hours of the morning.

I have no idea what we talked about. Important things™ to our teenage minds.

It was a slower life. A life of Sunday afternoon reading under the sunlight or playing baseball in the yard. A weekend of soccer games and ice cream. The long bike rides and long drives as I got older to enjoy the world surrounding me.

hammock on the farm

A world I took for granted as the young often do.

As I get older, I yearn to return to that slower life. I am not cut out for the city. I want to watch fields fill with firefly and lightening dance across the sky. I want the wind to blow over the uncut fields and hear the distant mooing.

I am not cut out for the city. I like my quiet far too much. I don’t understand references to most Nickelodeon shows or the piles of other children’s television my wife can recite from memory.

I had 6 channels. (Maybe 8 if the wind was right.)

I watched the Red Green Show and learned about the Handyman’s Secret Weapon. I spent a lot of time fighting with antennas to marginally improve a picture of a basketball game or The X-Files.

It was a slower life and as I ease into the middle of my third decade of life, it’s that slower life I miss.

(Photos taken Eric Holscher, my brother.)

The Ruralist

The older I get, the more I miss the small barely two stoplight town I grew up in. It’s only 60 miles west of me. It’s a place where my father still can’t get land-based broadband internet. It’s where I grew up without cable TV because the cables stopped at the end of my road. And there weren’t enough people to justify running them back to the few houses that sat on acres of land.

J.D. Bentley writes in The Ruralist

The most redeeming quality of big cities is that their people choose to congregate in small, dense areas, leaving the bulk of the earth to the rest of us.

As I’ve entered my third decade on this earth, that line resonates deeply with me. I grew up with cows and deer for neighbors. I grew up without a working knowledge of the Nickelodeon schedule. I grew up in a quiet place. Where I could sit outside and barely hear another sign of humanity. I’d walk in the woods and take long bike rides past apple orchards and corn fields. I relished the silence. The wind in my ears as I raced down hills and pedaled like a maniac up the next.

When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to move out of the little town. I could not wait to spread my wings in a bigger city. I escaped to Richmond, VA for college and lived there for a several years afterwards. Then I returned home to the outskirts of Washington, DC. First living in Northern Virginia across the river from it, and now in Maryland to its north.

I like the area where I am now. It’s quiet enough it could almost be mistaken for rural. There are deer and rabbits nearby. I pass geese, ducks and the occasional heron (I think?) on my walk to the Metro.

That’s where the illusion ends. When I cross the barrier from wildlife to concrete and board a train descending underneath DC and into the heart of the city.

By day, I am city dweller, though at least I am close enough to the National Mall and Capitol Reflecting Pool I can still enjoy the ducks, green spaces and people-watching.

But I miss the quiet nights. I miss falling asleep to the wind whipping through trees and across open fields. I miss the cows and occasional rooster.

I miss hearing a world not powered by motors and processors.