I'm Good With Urban-Suburbia



Now...don't get me wrong.  My Preacher and I have been doing our version of "urban homesteading" for many years now. We plant gardens.  We've planted berry bushes - they didn't make it.  We tried again.  (One made it.  We will plant more this spring...)

We have an apple tree.  Well, it is our neighbor's apple tree, but trust me...it's ours. We have peach trees (plural).  Well, they belong to the neighbor across the street, but trust me...they're ours.  Same with a cherry tree.  This is the beauty of urban living at its best, see.  You get to know your neighbors and actually love them.  You end up sharing apple trees and hydrangea blossoms.  We have a tiny fish pond.  We burn outdoor fires in our firepit almost twelve months of the year.  The amount of square footage of our porches and decks equal (if not surpass) the square footage inside our house.  We are lovers of the outdoors, here at the cottage.

We expand the garden a little each year.  This past summer, our raised beds gave us enough green beans and tomatoes to last us through winter.  We even drive a truck.  We have friends with beautiful suburban acreage (a couple after my own heart!  They are far more involved with people than vegetables or animals, though they do have lots of dogs) they grow an incredible garden, right in the middle of a subdivision...and they have very, very green thumbs.  We can grow stuff there, if we had to, if we needed even more planting space - and then swim in their pool.  They live minutes away.

But we don't need to plant another garden bed at our friends' house yet.  I want to experiment further with our own urban gardening - the kind that weaves the vegetables in with the flowers in with the landscaping...whole books written about this, and there's big possibilities here yet to be explored. 

We were considering building a story-book cute, tiny coop and run for three laying hens...just for fun and grandkids.  But then we remembered that God often calls us to travel and minister to people.  I love chickens, but in my world, people win every time.  (People are God's favorite, too.)  Still...if we can find responsible chicken sitters...we may....we could...our pastor friend Bo from Virginia has some way cool breeds and has offered us chicks and his decades of expertise for free.  We could even get a milking goat.  Same reason.  Fun and grandchildren.  Same way...free from a friend.

We might.  We might not.  

One thing is for sure.  As you can tell, we are good...really good...with urban living.  Things are good in this declining, urban 'hood, what with a grandson next door and two grand daughters a mile's walking distance away. See, as much as we think livestock and acreage are fun ideas, we value time.  Time for people. 

My good friend Wendy and I were talking a couple years back about the whole yuppie farming/simple living movement that has been going on for YEARS.  (In other words, this is nothing new.  This post isn't a reaction to anyone who just so happens to have suddenly taken up farming in the last five years...apocolyptic end-timers, politically-charged off-the-gridders, and home schoolers have migrated to the countryside and taken up farming for decades now.  I know a bunch of 'em.)

She said something I thought was so wise.  She said, "There's many ways to live simply.  I don't want to get up and have to tend chickens every day.  It is simpler for me to go to Food City and get free range eggs for three bucks."  Like me, she has pretty much rejected the idea that you must live in the country to be earthy, wise, or even to eat "from farm to table".  

Here at the cottage, my Preacher and I already live beautifully and simply, we eat healthily, and we enjoy not smelling the poop.  We enjoy time for grandkids.  We enjoy being able to leave at the drop of a hat - brazen, romantic empty nesters that we are.

God bless Mary Jane Butters...but I don't want to live like her.  She's beautiful and wears cute hats, and I can take and adapt some of her ideas, making them work for me right where I live...

...but I am content to live in what's known as a neighborhood, and I tend to think a modicum of close-neighborly dealings is necessary and healthy for our emotional and spiritual balance, even when the dealings are a bit uncomfortable.  The teenage boys who used to live on this street challenged our patience and even our Christian faith.  We've had to take strong stands instead of move to the country.  Our neighborhood is densely populated with real people, some drug addicted, some Godly, some who keep up appearances, some who don't keep anything up, but all keep me well rounded and grounded.

It's a very simple and satisfying life, mine.  My lettuces will get planted in a couple of months, and I can make a killer chicken soup from the thighs of free ranged chickens bought cheap.  Not a big deal.

I don't need views or solitude or chickens to feel creative.  I don't need to kill my own cows to have meat.  I don't have time to raise and sell livestock - and I am supremely grateful for those who do that for a living.  But my priority is to build up lives - to invest into God's favorite thing - human beings.

I see the same sunrise and sunset, the same cloud formations, and constellations as anyone on any farm.  Don't need the busy-ness of poultry or pastures to be busy doing what, in my opinion, is most important in the Kingdom of God.

I'm glad for those Real Farmers (like the Voskamps over at Holy Experience) who integrate their country life with a life of missions and faithful attendance to local church.  I know so many of you who rock that kind of lifestyle, and you don't use your acreage and animals as an excuse for escaping the joy and heartache of consistently, year in and year out, dealing with both the delightful and the very difficult people.  But for this Preacher's Wife, more than three chickens, and I might look like an older version of that picture up there.  Gah. 

Besides.  I sort of like putting on yoga pants, a cute T-shirt, and colorful Nikes when I decide to take a walk.  No dungarees and boots, thanks.
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