Saturday, December 17, 2011
Total Solitude For 33 Years
Off an old county road, a row of mail boxes and a leaning no trespassing sign is the only hint you will see of a community who chose to live in complete solitude from society over thirty three years ago.
Today the family and I had the unique opportunity to be invited into this small group of people and tour how they live without many of the influences and necessities from the outside world.
Rainbow Valley was created in 1978 as an overflow from White Hawk, another off the grid community started a few years before in the late sixties. In the mid eighties as many as forty families lived in the valley and worked toward the greater good of preserving life, freedom and the pursuit of happiness. Now years later, just a hand full of members remain.
In the Valley's hay day life was made up of complete self sufficient living plus helping one another and giving back to the community in which they lived. During the harvest months the residents would pick their gardens and take baskets of food to the community center and exchange vegetables, knowledge and crafts. It was not uncommon in those days to find each dwelling place with a complete working farm full of gardens, animals and many different items to live by themselves without asking for help from the outsiders.
The more I talked and asked questions the more my gracious host stood upright straightening his curved overworked back producing a smile and a thought that maybe his life was something of interest after all.
He invited us into his house where his family was busy doing the daily activities of survival. I stood at the thresh hold of his house in complete awe to how easy I actually have it. I started to ask why they chose this lifestyle but quickly remembered all the times I have been asked that same question. I already knew the answer before it ever came to my lips and along with my family stood embracing the sight before us which was so many levels above my willingness and thought process. I was now the outsider trying to understand why and how.
The kind gentleman took us to every room in his self built underground house describing in detail every aspect of every item they used to live. His most prized possession besides his antique claw foot bathtub was a seventies model stereo system where he had to have me hear the great acoustics of what a round underground house sounded like. Flipping open the wooden top to a turn table that showed almost a half a century of wear, he gently placed a Rolling Stones record on it and cranked the volume up to max.
Last week, if you will recall, I was called a hippie from a very educated English professor. During the time my ears were throbbing to the Stones, I looked over at the middle daughter and she smiled with a knowing smile that yes, maybe the great professor was not wrong after all.
Anyone with the money can buy and have installed a fifty thousand dollar turn key tracking solar system to supply power to the whole house. I wanted to see real life, raw solar, virgin thought and that is exactly what I got. He did not really want pictures of it so all I can tell you is it was a true work of art. Cables held together by clothes pins, Solar panels of varying sizes linked together with scrap wire and mounting brackets made from pieces of unwanted wood found here and there. Everything the books tell you not to do he did it and it worked. I was truly impressed and took detailed notes.
I asked how long did he think he could survive if the coming economic crash was to hit today. As soon as the words left my mouth I knew the answer and knew that was a stupid question better left unasked. All the sudden I felt like a city folk and was embarrassed I even asked it. He knew it and just grinned.
It is a wonder we do not practice this type of building more often.
Our host even felt inclined to give me an old generator. He said it needed a little work but it was still a jewel. I could not say no, that would have just been rude.
My new friend, like the other remaining residents of Rainbow Valley will never leave. They will live there until they die and probably be buried there. He said the outside world has long passed him by and there was no place in it for his kind.
I left Rainbow Valley with mixed emotions today. Envious of them for living the way they chose with what they have and not needing much of anything from anybody or society but I also left a little heart broken that we all do not live that way. Self governed, self reliant and self sufficient only relying on what we do for ourselves and our community to survive. Instead we have become a "Me" world only wanting what we think we are entitled to.