by Meriah Nichols
Our home is round. It is built in the style of a yurt, perfectly round, but it is not, as it is in Mongolia, a portable residence. Ours is made of stone and copper. It is there for the long run, just as we hope to be.
Our family lives completely off the grid, relying primarily on solar power, but with a backup generator. Water comes from the numerous natural springs located on the property, drawn directly from the earth. We use an outhouse, and our shower is outdoors. It is so difficult to reach our house that the post office refuses to deliver mail, and telephone service is out of the question, as there are no telephone lines.
School for two of our three children is five miles away, and those five miles take half an hour via ATV, thanks to dirt inclines and switchbacks that mark the narrow, one-lane road. We have bears ? we eat bear! We have (and eat) wild boar, too, and deer. Bobcats and mountain lions roam the property, as do alligator lizards, and snakes are not strangers, either.
When I write about the basic pieces of our lives, I feel like some kind of rabid crystal-using, hemp-wearing, patchouli-smelling, goddess-worshipping, crunchy granola hippie who doesn?t shave her legs. But that?s not me. I am deaf, and mention this because I believe my deafness fostered a competitive nature and ambitious spirit, as if to compensate for a lack of hearing. I graduated from university at 19 after simultaneously working full-time, am fluent in Japanese, and spent years immersed in a corporate world of power suits and city life.
But life changed. I met my husband, married, and gave birth to three children in a span of five years. And after my middle child was born, nothing about anything of my life as I had known it made sense anymore. Our daughter has Down syndrome, and a difficult home birth resulted in my own complications of temporary paralysis. That old life of work and money and striving to fit into a system required so much effort from me as a deaf woman that I just couldn?t do it anymore. I just? couldn?t. So off the grid we went.
Today, our life is connected to weather and our land. Food is a result of what we grow, pick, or harvest. It is wrapped in the beauty of a farm, and sweat pours into required toils of this life we consciously chose. The children? They thrive, running through fields and growing strong with constant movement. There are challenges, namely in the form of my middle daughter?s tendency to bolt when the mood strikes her, but a service dog stays close and herds her back when I call. All of the kids are learning to grow their own food, and, thanks to the internet and computers, also stay tech-savvy, a nice balance for their futures.
Living a life that suits us so well in both the hard places and easy ones is precious to me. It is priceless in beauty and matchless in time we are given to be present with our children. It has also allowed me to finally relax, accept myself and my deafness, and ease toward contentment. I am rounded, now. Not sharp or edgy. And I am here for the duration.
Meriah Nichols publishes the blog A Little Moxie, documenting a life of travel, disabilities, and lots of courage.?