Guest Post - M.- Adapting in Place Class Week 3

by: EJ on 07/25/2012
Posted in: Guest Posts

Despite being about to have her third baby any moment now, M. continues to share her insights with us from Sharon Astyk's "Adapting in Place" course. Her description of a late night discussion really resonated with me.  I appreciate how sharing thoughts with Sharon Astyk can keep you up at night!  My partner and I try to keep a five year plan in place and it is time for a renewal.  In five years, our single son will be old enough to be out of the house and things will really change.  Do we move now to a home more suitable for retirement and aging, or do we wait for him to leave home?  Should we invest now and get our dollars out of the money market and into land - or should we wait it out as land prices continue to fall?  Read how M. and her family tackle similar issues below.

This week I did some very hard work for this class.  I have to admit, it wasn’t anything exactly on the homework, but there is a hard decision my family needs to make and this class has allowed me to approach it from a new angle and I think opened up the discussion more between me and my husband. Basically, we have to decide whether to stay in Maryland, where we have a lot of friends, a pleasant house and neighborhood, and a source of income or go to live in upstate NY where we both grew up and where our families live.

Sharon asked class members to post a “most pressing question” the first week, and I posted this one of course, and I’ve gotten a lot of interesting responses to it.  Some readily admit that it is the income from job or a partner’s job allows then to spend time and money on the subjects of preparation and adaptation. Some other folks feel like the time they spent chasing money in a city or region where they didn’t want to end up was wasted. A lot of people, Sharon included, spoke up for being where you want to be, especially when you have young children, even without a great job. If the place we want to adapt to is 350 miles away, money won’t be much help. So on Sunday a friend watched my little boys while we walked down to the local coffee shop for a quick date. Actually, we didn’t talk about any of this then, but luckily the caffeine allowed us to stay up after the kids went to sleep for a late night hash out session.  We’re about to have a baby, and have already decided to stay here for this year. But in May, our current lease runs out. What are we going to do then?

The first thing to establish was, do we really want to end up in New York, or would we be happy staying here? How important is it that we get there eventually? The answer seemed to be, for both of us, pretty important. Ticking through some of the scenarios from the class, especially the more extreme climate and societal changes, in every situation we both would rather be near our family, in a less hot and crowded region. Hot summers? Social unrest? Aging infrastructure? Natural disasters? For all of these, we’d rather not be in Baltimore. Seeing and having our children see their grandparents every week or month instead of a couple times a year would be very important to our family. It’s where our roots are, our safety net, the cost of living is low, there is water and clean air and space and a climate which in some ways will be improving even as the global temperature rises. So yes, we want to live there.

Next topic was how soon? Next year, or in five years, or in ten years, or when we retire? This one is a lot harder. I think until now we had been thinking of earning and saving money here in the Baltimore/DC area where there are more jobs available and then using it to buy some land or a house closer to our family eventually. If we want to go sooner, are we willing to move there and rent? Move there without a job lined up? In my dreams I can buy 5 acres, have a house for us and a few more for our friends and relations, and spend my time planting fruit trees and berry bushes, digging my root cellar and learning to cook on a wood stove. My boys will play in the creek (as long as the water’s not too high!), collect eggs from the chickens and dig for worms in the garden. In reality, if we pick up next spring and move, we’ll be renting some small house and not doing most of that. I’ll be trying to find students, learning new homeschooling regulations, and chasing a one year old around. The canning pot will not be making an appearance. Do we still want to be there, sans the homesteading paradise? Well, I think we do. Being safe and near our family is what’s most important, not the chickens. 

One of the questions Sharon asked was “where would you go if a. you had to leave your home and evacuate for days or weeks and b. if you lost your home and had to move away on short notice?” and it did not escape my notice that most of my classmate’s answers involved a few blocks or a short drive, and mine was a seven hour car ride away. Wow, really? Well, that’s where we’d go.  That’s where we know we’d be taken care of, where we could stay as long as we needed to, where there would be the hands and hearts to support our family in a time of need. Until now, my husband and I hadn’t thought about it that way, but I think what it’s going to mean is a big adventure for all of us come next spring.

Where would you go if you had to leave your home at a moment's notice?  Share your plans in the comments section below but be prepared for some potentially late night conversations. 




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