Daisy finds her sensibilities offended by domesticity.
A dear friend from high school came to visit me last week (my excuse for not blogging), and while she was here at the Green Goddess Gardens, she remarked that she wished she was as domestic as I am. At the word “domestic” I swear I could hear the record needle scratch as my brain came crashing to a halt. Domestic? Me? What on earth could she mean? She explained, “Well, you know. Domestic. Like, enjoying taking care of a house and cooking and stuff.”
I had to laugh at this while gently explaining that cooking and taking care of a house are about as pleasurable to me as repeatedly stabbing myself in the neck with a pencil. Are there honestly people out there who like doing dishes, washing clothes, and picking up stuff to put it back where it belongs? And is that how I come off to the population at large? Domestic?
Okay, now I had to look it up. Dictionary.com had several definitions of domestic:
1. of or pertaining to the home, the household, household affairs, or the family: domestic pleasures.
2. devoted to home life or household affairs.
3. tame; domesticated.
Alright fine, so she’s got me on number one. I guess on paper I am totally domestic. I am a married homeowner with a child and pets. But I hardly find pleasure in maintaining a clean home. The phrase “domestic pleasures” strikes me as a bit of an oxymoron.
We’re starting to lose me on definition #2. I would not say I’m devoted to home life and household affairs. Household affairs are things like paying bills, shopping, cooking and cleaning, all of which I detest. Yes, DETEST.
And definition #3 is just way wrong. I seriously doubt anyone who has ever known me would describe me as “tame.”
So what the hell am I then?
The truth for me is that I just don’t see my life this way. My house is not a home for tame creatures with beds and fine china and ironed clothing. My house is my cave, with cats roaming in and out as they please, a comfy little shelter from the rain and cold. My bed is my nest, ever unmade, an unruly pile of pillows and sheets. My yard is not a grassy square of lawn – it is an overgrown thicket buzzing with bees and butterflies and chickens. Wild weeds grow alongside vegetables planted on purpose. Nothing is manicured. Not the lawn, not my nails.
This place is my little bit of wilderness in the middle of a city. Here I can make my life with my own two hands, instead of buying it pre-packaged at Target. I can go dumpster diving and scavenging like a pirate. I can get to know all the plants that grow on my land intimately, getting down in the dirt and smelling, tasting, touching, watching. My wild little yard is a feast for the senses, even with the traffic noises in the background and the neon “Carey Hilliards” sign blinking across the street (when the wind blows the right way, you can smell the deep fried food…).
I think there’s a better word to describe me (and everything I stand for): Feral. Here we go again with the definitions….
1. existing in a natural state, as animals or plants; not domesticated or cultivated; wild.
2. having reverted to the wild state, as from domestication: a pack of feral dogs roaming the woods.
3. of or characteristic of wild animals; ferocious; brutal.
Definition #1 is what I strive for. Every problem that faces me gets fed through this filter. What is the wildest solution? How can we get closer to the wild way of living that all creatures are instinctively drawn to? How can we match nature? I usually have to give up some security to live a wild life, but I accept that. For example, my cats are miserable when kept inside, so I allow them to roam free, knowing their sweet little feline lives will probably be truncated by the front bumper of a Volvo. My chickens exhibit unhealthy behavior when confined, so I let them have the run of the backyard, knowing I will likely lose at least one to the pair of hawks that live nearby.
Definition #2 works fine as well. Perhaps I haven’t totally reverted to a wild state, but seriously, how much different is my life from my Paleolithic ancestors? I live in my cave, scrounge for food and resources, and I never go to a doctor. I don’t even wear a bra unless I’m trying to “fit in” somewhere civilized. Sure, I’ve got a car and air conditioning and an internet connection, but most of my life is lived in the low-tech. Pulling up the plants I don’t want on my land, scattering seeds, making friends with other wild creatures, telling stories, making things.
I guess even definition #3 applies to me, especially when I’m on my period.
I’m always looking for ways to wild up my life. I made my hammock so I can enjoy the feeling of relaxing outside. I seek ways to eliminate/simplify/postpone housework so I can do the things that bring me joy. I cook simple food to nourish my body. I get my animals and my kid outside as much as I can, knowing that just being out in the sunshine elevates their moods and boosts their immune systems.
Life is wild. Let go of what domesticates you. It’s dirty and sometimes painful and your neighbors may look at you funny, but feral life is so much more fulfilling than what WalMart has to offer. Quit buying bras. Nap outside. Make something useful. I think you’ll be surprised at what wildness feeds your soul.
Not pictured: Better Homes and Gardens
My "cultivated" garden...
My clean and organized carport.
The "manicured" front lawn of the Green Goddess Gardens
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