Anyone who loves the outdoors thinks at one time or another of selling the house, selling the cars, and pulling the money from the bank to hit the road and explore the world. I think everyone in craves a simpler life. Contributing Editor C.W. Dash looks back on the past, and wonders about the future.
When I was a kid, there was an elderly man living alone in the woods in a shack no larger than 12 x 12 feet. His name was Bert and I suppose he had a last name although I don't recall if I ever learned it. Around the county, he was referred to as Bert the bum.
Bert's place was three miles from town beside a dusty, gravel road, tucked into the oak trees along a narrow creek. From there, Bert would make his hike into town every third day or so to buy bread and sometimes a few canned goods. For the most part, he lived off the land.
Across the country, I'm sure there are people still living like Bert did 40 years ago, but I wonder if I or any one else would be ALLOWED to CHOOSE that lifestyle in an attempt to "pare down" our lives.
If we had kids, would social services intervene and insist we have running water and lush toilets? Would fish and game officers come knocking at our doors with warrants for taking fish and game of our own property? Would the EPA restrict the amount of fish we ate from a stream running through our property because of suspect mercury levels? Would the FBI camp down the road suspecting us of being the next Unabomber?
Even now, I'd like to expand my garden plot, but if I do, will someone cram an ordinance down my throat If I install a solar shower in my back yard--complete with privacy curtain--will I be arrested for indecency? Will the food and Drug Administration one day come into my kitchen to make sure my home-canned goods are up to snuff? It seems to me that too many rules, regulations, laws and ordinances, and a myriad of senseless do-gooders in governmental agencies will see to it that living a simpler life is nearly impossible.
I sometimes wonder if Bert had longed for a better life. Now that he's long gone, his shack has been replaced with a large, modern home and a landscaped yard where vehicles and adult toys have frightened away the wildlife. That's called progress, I'm told. I don't know about that--I'll have to think about it.