Ah, who then can
we turn to? Not Angels: not men,
and the resourceful animals see clearly
that we are not really at home
in our interpreted world. -Rilke

If you have not yet read Rilke’s Duino Elegies I strongly recommend it. The link will do but the translations vary so widely that an off one can ruin the sense of what he is doing. The quote above from the first elegy has been with me for a long time. It stays with me, how could it not?

As I have spent my first few weeks working on the new house in Esmont I have had time to reflect on the many reasons my wife and I are making this move. We are still getting the house ready, it has been a lot of work and money and a lot more to go before we are actually in there on the 1st of July. Beyond the house, there are the 30 or so chickens and 10 ducks that are set to arrive at the end of this month and I have much to do to prepare for them. Getting the pasture and paddock ready has had its own challenges not the least of which has been an epic case of poison ivy; the grounds are rife with it (enter the pigs).

Everything had to be right for this move. I have waited a long time to find a home and land that meets the standards of my lunatic romanticisms. Though I reckon myself a practical minded person I can not help but try to make the practical fall in line with the ideal. In this instance I am talking about the material make up of things.

I see the world around us often as an “interpreted world.” We are surrounded by the artificial. Whatever that may mean for me, right now, that takes on a very material meaning. Our houses are plastic, our clothes are often as well; our food…well you know that old story. Little by little I attempt to get back to what I understand as real, perhaps authentic.

In my daily life, and for reasons too long to explain here, this has meant putting on the habit of not buying anything made in China, anything made of plastic or synthetic materials. I loathe composite metals, particle boards, anything made to be cheap, temporary or veneer. It is not easy as almost everything has gone the way of the cheap, temporary and veneer and I am not a fanatic about this method, if I have to bend I bend. I am satisfied with making my road a slow road, I want these changes to be permanent.

The house in Esmont has a thick walled slate foundation. The walls in the house are sheet rock on the surface but through a cut in one of them I have seen that the original walls of rough cut tongue and grove oak planks are directly beneath, a solid and real material. The floors are not the original 1903 wood floors but I hope that they are under the hard wood floors that have been laid sometime since. The siding is wood slat, the roof is steel. The rafters in the attic are thick cut rough oak or some other hard wood in beautiful condition.

This house is a house that I can understand. It is made of materials I understand, not the plastic wrappings and the vinyl sidings and the PVC and the who knows what I have lived in my whole life. This is a house of solid things, of real things where I intend to establish a life of solid and real things: plant, animal, water, air, man (fire).

I do not mean this to be a criticism of any other life style. These are my conclusions, or rather a hypothesis at the most. After all what is organic farming? For me it is a theory of ‘getting back to.’ An attempt to live more in tune with the existing order, or at least an attempt to find out just what that would look like.

As for me, I now have a ‘real’ house and some ‘real’ land, my work will bring it together and the outcome will enable me to continue our ‘real’ food business at Rev Soup. I suppose it is all my personal way of trying to feel at home in our interpreted world. Ezra Pound said, “Make it new.” Perhaps that is what his generation needed at that time and place. I say, make it authentic. There will always be new.