Archive for May, 2015

The Care-Taking Mission & The Search For Home

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

The Care-Taking Mission & The Search For Home

by Jesse Wolf Hardin

It has been a busy Spring here in the wilds, connected as we are to the larger world through the magic of internet and at the behest of a calling – in the past month putting together another free Herbaria Newsletter plus the next 280 pages-long Plant Healer Magazine, producing a new color book on the history of herbalism and medicine called The Traveling Medicine Show, working on the upcoming Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference, and writing posts for several blogs.  The advantage of affecting culture and human kind from the “comforts” of a remote wilderness sanctuary, is tempered by the awareness that the walls of these crudely built cabins are in need of caulk and waterproofing or paint, that Elka could use help keeping the firewood split that heats our homes and food,  and that I have not been able to break away long enough to run the water pump to move precious water from our rain barrels to our storage tanks before this coming weekend’s expected storm.  I have missed the raw experience of daily close contact with the elements and fundamentals of real existence, the ritual chores of connection, the scent and heft of wood and water.  This led me to pondering again in the middle of the night, as to what kinds of folks might work best to share our incredible land and necessary responsibilities with.  It’s intensely wonderful here in such a wildly natural place, but most would say it has too many drawbacks being remote, in a county with a few hundred libertarian country folk, hard to make money, and anything but hipster. Anima Sanctuary Cliffs in Mist by Jesse Wolf Hardin 72dpi The result of such midnight thoughts was my writing my latest post for the Mother Earth News blog.  While most often we post about herbs and healing, this time I cover the subject of “Caretaking in Paradise” – not an appeal for assistance and involvement at Anima Sanctuary so much as encouragement and a primer for folks who cannot afford to buy remote property but wish for a way to live out in nature somewhere nonetheless.  I include in the post a list of practical tips for finding and arranging for caretaker positions in the rural and wilderness parts of this country. It brought to mind the times before I arrived in our river canyon, when this impoverished young dreamer was searching out places where I might be useful, healthful, and welcome: “For nearly 15 years, I learned to reinhabit the mountains of the rural West by caretaking a number of places:  A wild turkey refuge on a creek 23 miles of dirt road into the forest from the small village of Pecos, New Mexico, planting oats for the birds and keeping the pipes thawed between the spring box and the log cabin provided.  A ramshackle cattle ranch west the ghost town of Chloride.  An A-frame near the art colony of Taos, that I repaired and painted instead of paying rent.”

The search of course, led me here, and probably could have led me nowhere else.  This enchanted land, its shining examples and difficult challenges, have in combination informed my thinking and teaching, and largely shaped the person that I am.  It inspired my lifelong commitments to its care and restoration, though that ended up meaning being along here for over a decade.  The folks who at one time or another were pledged to live here or who helped pay for the sanctuary all drifted away, except for one who fortunately helps ensure its legal protection from afar, and my family who tend its needs are few indeed, but it nonetheless remains true that a primitive homestead lifestyle and our important duties are meant to be the work of a clan if not village, community, tribe.  To thrive, rural, farm, and wilderness land needs to be free from the crowds and concrete of so-called “civilization,” and yet if can benefit from small groups who guard, restore, and celebrate it.  Finally, as I wrote for the M.E.N. blog:

“…remember that caretaking means literally “taking care” – tending, maintaining, nurturing, and ultimately benefitting a home and ecosystem that you deeply care about!  It works best not as an experiment but as commitment, committing as fully to a place and purpose as we would to a spouse, a child, or a cause.  …Whether we end up a lifetime caretaker or making years of payments, we each have the option and opportunity to live our wildest dreams – including a dream of living close to the land and the elements, inspired by its beauty, fulfilled by our earthen role and worthy tasks.”

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To write us, email: mail(at)AnimaCenter(dot)org      –     And to read the entire Mother Earth News blog post, click on:  Caretaking in Paradise