Monday, May 16, 2011

#7 - Our Land is a Sedative

Our acreage and future farm happens to be about 1 and 1/2 hours drive from our home on the bay side of Greater Houston. It's at a perfect distance. Kind of like a "Goldilocks" distance...not too far away, but close enough to make the trip easy, yet still feel as if you are a million miles away from it all.

David walking along the frontage of our property.
As we make the drive out of the Houston area to our land, we must drive through the heart of Houston. We take I-45 and merge onto the Pierce Elevated, which is a section of Interstate that is actually elevated above the regular roads and buildings below. Pierce Elevated cuts through part of downtown, so as you drive down Pierce Elevated, you are surrounded by towering sky-rises of downtown Houston and a couple of well established hospitals. High above downtown's ground level traffic chaos, you speed along without worrying about pedestrians or street lights and you get a great view of Houston.

On this part of I-45, we get to drive past by the hospital where I was born. St. Joseph's Hospital is still going strong. We see metropolitan high-rise living quarters, and I won't lie, I always feel the sting of jealousy. There's always been a part of me that would've loved to live in the downtown area, near the theater district. Here, I could leisurely stroll to a nearby cafe or go see a Broadway production...such awesome diversity. I would suddenly be propelled into the world of "you are so cool." Living in suburbia means you are a practical person, not necessarily cool. If you live downtown, age doesn't matter, you are ultra-cool. That's how it works.

David walking with his daughters in the heart of downtown. He's
taking us three ladies to lunch for Tai food. Yum.
My mental picture of living downtown is so dreamy...well, until the homeless guy is laying on the sidewalk outside the entrance to my home and I have to step over him to get to my door. And, until frequent downtown events create roadblocks that make it a hassle to get to and from my place, and then there's the 24-hour noise...Does it ever stop? This happens every time I mentally sort through all the big bonuses of living downtown, I am suddenly assaulted with harsh realities that show me that downtown living isn't for me. In theory, it sure sounds like fun, but not on a regular basis.

Mono-Rail speeds past my girls.

Still walking a few blocks. Too many choices!  But, David knows where
he's taking us for lunch!
Since our lifestyle does require frequent trips downtown, you don't want to know how many homeless people I've actually had to step over as they slumbered on the sidewalk. It happens. Or you might be walking toward your building and pass a street person in a heated battle, face to stapled poster face, with a telephone pole. It is never boring. Business women race from one place to the next with their pricey business suit and designer purses and walking tennis shoes temporarily in place so they can seriously tackle their lunch break. Every now and then, a man sitting on the corner will be playing his saxophone and I drop money into his instrument case. This is what I love when I am in Houston. Diversity.

My husband and daughters - we all know the city life so well.
It's a part of our culture; it's in our blood, but I've found the COUNTRY!
Whenever I get too much of a craving for downtown kind of life, I make a trip to Houston's Galleria, maybe check into the hotel that's inside the Galleria and get my dose of downtown. Just a little bit is satisfying, then I am ready to go. It's not something I want to experience long term. I get enough of it already. Every week, I live in a whirlwind splash of city life. It can be fun, but it can also create a lot of strain. I quickly get sick of commercialism and high-priced living. This is when I'm reminded that my land in the country is EVERYTHING the city is not. It is quiet; it is raw; it is without overwhelming man-made intrusion; it exudes a sort of regal kind of existence that cannot be duplicated by man.

If I don't get to be on my land frequently, I actually get depressed and have "nature" withdrawals that people around me can't really understand. Our land feels sacred to me, as if it helps to nourish my soul.

I know that people downtown don't want the ball and chain of yards to manicure, they might have their little patio and that's good enough for them. They treasure their limited, private outdoor space, if they have it at all. As for me, give me dirt! Lots of dirt! And, I must have trees. Large trees, small trees, and trees of all kinds. I have got to have my garden area where I can go pull off a fresh bell pepper to cook with dinner, and where we have ample room for the dogs to be dogs so I can laugh and play like a kid while throwing the ball as far as I can and watch Howdy sprint with his bunny hops to catch the ball. I get to sit back and enjoy the greenery. Sometimes, I throw out a bird seed mix, then I relax and watch all the different, beautiful breeds of birds fly down for a snack. Other times, I sit in my lawn chair outdoors and write in my journal. I've been doing this for as long as I can remember.

My soul craves wide open space, it allows me to take in a deep breath of air and be grateful that the air is not "cluttered."

David and the dogs headed into a part of
our land that is more dense with forest.
What is cluttered air you ask? Well, according to Lana, the less artificial matter around you, and the less cramped your living conditions, the less cluttered the air will be as well. It's an emotional, spiritual, mental kind of relief to be free from city clutter. In the country, it seems that the air is free-flowing and clean; you are not crowded, so you get non-cluttered air. In the country, it's easy to take in a deep breath of air and to take your time exhaling.

Area of land where Howdy loves to play ball.
My husband must drive into downtown every day. He works in the Harris County Criminal Courts building and is daily surrounded with the baddest of the bad in our county. This past week, he was in the front page of, which is the on-line version of our newspaper. Here, in the on-line version and full print hardcopy of the Houston Chronicle this past week, a picture captures a bittersweet moment of my husband and his partner taking the convicted cop killer away after he received a 40-year sentence. The young cop who was killed in the line of duty, had a wife and two young daughters. One moment in time changed their world. Our family has grieved the loss of the young fallen police officer taken by this criminal.

My husband and his partner leading the convicted Cop Killer
out of a Harris County Courtroom. Bittersweet moment of great emotion.
Days like these make me REALLY want to move out to the country. Sometimes, I just feel as if I could run there and never come back to the city. But, I know that bad stuff happens everywhere. Still, it touches our home so often that I will be more than ready to focus on goats, chickens, a vegetable garden and a few head of cattle. My husband won't know what to do when he's no longer having to be on constant guard for himself and for everyone else around him. Yes, after living like this for decades, we're ready to live on a farm.

More than life at work, my husband's daily driving routine requires him to drive past refinery-land where explosions and dangerous chemical releases are a "normal" part of our world, then he drives over the intimidating 610 ship channel bridge that is under constant high surveillance to avoid a terrorist attack and all this is in combination with Houston's daily bumper to bumper traffic that can get snarly. My husband has made these drives more times than he can count. He knows Greater Houston so well that his "GPS" is the back of his hand!

The great part is...David is less than two years from retirement, so we are barely able to contain our excitement about leaving the Greater Houston area to live full-time on our near ten acres of land that we've been partially living on for about ten years.

On the weekends that we drive to our land, the towering buildings in Houston become tiny and tinier in our rear view mirror. As Houston shrinks from view, it seems as if invisible weights are peeling off of us. The further away from Houston we get, the less oppressed we feel. Maybe it's because the real world of bills, crowds, jam-packed neighborhood streets, and a world where people think success is reflected in what you wear, drive and where you lay your head at night is not our concern, at least for the weekend. Still we hold so much of Houston dear to our hearts, but I think we've seen everything, done everything and now it's time for us to move on. At least we are trying to do just that.

The sense of relaxation continues as we get closer to the Piney Woods. The highways are tree-lined with heavy forests of pines and it feels as if we are insulated from the rest of the world. Getting closer to our land, the roads narrow to two lanes with densely packed forest on either side; we are becoming more and more relaxed, feeling as if we could take a nap. Our muscles have jelled. Our breathing is slower. The world is at peace and our surroundings seem to be enfolding us into its resting arms.

For years, we'd travel every weekend to our property and my high-energy daughters would fall asleep once we arrived and they would sleep very hard, like babies. Both of them would tell me, "Mom, I don't know what happens, but when we come out here, I sleep better than ever."

Yep, there is a sedative quality to our land. I think it's just a typical sign that our life in Greater Houston is often too fast-paced and too stressful. Our culture has created a lifestyle that barely gives us time to sit back and we feel guilty about about taking a quick break. Convenience comes with added pressure for you to get out there and take advantage of everything at your fingertips. If we sit at home too much, we feel like a loser. The truth is, in the country, you might have less around you at your convenience, but there is still a lot to do. When you own a lot of land, it demands your attention, especially if a nice farm routine develops. You might have a large garden to tend and animals to care for; you probably will not find a day without chores needing attention, inside and out. On the other hand, when it's time to rest, you go sit on the porch and enjoy the view and take a break without the outside world screaming at you for more attention.

We are looking at a few considerations for the house we'll have built on our land. From various cabin-styles, to a rustic looking cedar cabin, we are still keeping our eyes open. But, we will have a metal roof. That is a non-negotiable, sure-fire requirement. I want to hear the pitter patter sounds of rain. I no longer want to insulate myself so much from the outside world that I can't even hear a rain drop. So my friends, I continue to look forward to the day when I can again hear the rain drops and not worry about a nearby chemical plant explosion or the trauma my husband must face after working with gruesome criminal cases. Our crowded city life is proving that I am needing to GET OUT OF HERE!

Until the day we can settle on our land full-time, I will enjoy my life in the Greater Houston area and be grateful. There's too much appreciation within me for Houston that can never be erased. But, I am a woman who has experienced great change over the past ten years. Since falling very ill in 2001, my perspective about life has changed and my idea of "home" has slowly evolved. I crave a more simple and natural lifestyle. And, I am learning that our land has the power to beckon me. It does, and I will one day sit back and enjoy it's embracing nature, every day of the week.

I love the rustic, inviting look of this cabin.

This is the kind of style that is appealing to me. Far from my
sticks and bricks huge home that I currently enjoy.

Gotta love that front porch. I will have lots of outdoor areas to enjoy.

I like the rustic feel all the way through.
The floorplan and ceiling is a start.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful...I could never live in a big city after always living rurally.

I love the cabins.
One floor for later in life is a big consideration...we won't always enjoy stairs. :) B.

Lana C. said...

B, I don't blame you about never being able to move to the city after living rurally. The two worlds can be mere minutes apart, yet be worlds different.

I agree about the husband and I now have stairs and we rarely go up those stairs because of aching backs, etc., but we have company so often that it is nice for them to have space that's kind of separated from us. But, we don't want stairs, unless it's a loft area for the kids and future grand-kids to enjoy. But, they'll have to clean it while visiting as well!! haha

Thanks for coming by, I always enjoy your visits!