Normally the "let's go back to the land" books annoy the crap out of me. Take Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. It's not that I disagree with her idea that all of us should try to live and eat more locally. I'm down with that. I just didn't happen to enjoy Kingsolver's overbearing, self-righteous, and completely humorless take on the subject.*
So why do I keep reading these sorts of books? I don't know. Maybe because when I find one I like it's such a pleasant surprise? Such was the case with Doug Fine's Farewell, My Subaru: An Epic Adventure in Local Living. Fine, a writer and journalist, buys a ranch in New Mexico and sets about trying to live his life off the grid. Unlike most of these books, he does it in a rather funny way. Take his goals for the year:
"1. Use a lot less oil. 2. Power my life by renewable energy. 3. Eat as locally as possible. 4.Don't Starve, electrocute myself, get eaten by the local mountain lions, get shot by my UN-fearing neighbors, or otherwise die in a way that would cause embarrassment if the obituary writer did his or her research." (p. 4.)
Now THAT is the proper attitude toward going back to the land. In various chapters Fine outlines how he learned to drive on used fry oil, hooking up solar panels on his house (another plus: he admits that the batteries used in solar energy systems are themselves environmental nightmares--that's nice and honest, for a change), raising a couple of goats, and trying to keep the coyotes from his chickens.
So yeah, thumbs up on this one. Although I must admit, part of it also made me sad. Me? I came from the farm. I don't really want to go back to the farm. There was a lot of hard work there. And biofuels? With my bad luck in cars I can barely keep a vehicle running on normal gas, much less biofuels. Can't I just drive less and call it even?
*Wow, did that feel good to say out loud.