Editor’s Note: This is a post in the series, Simplicity in Action.
Seven years in May – will be our anniversary without running water. Educated idiots? Dirty hippies? Our sanity is perhaps questioned by many, yet we have never been happier or healthier in our lives.
We left our apartment one cloudy day in Seattle with the hopes of rediscovering a new and more fulfilling life in southeastern Hungary, against the wishes of some and with the bewilderment of others. With our backpacks stuffed to the gills and a couple of duffle bags in hand we said our goodbyes and flew away. Two months later we were surprised by our twenty file boxes containing mostly books, two trunks filled with clothes and kitchen apparel, a small selection of fine art that we were proud of at the time. By surprised I mean that we never really missed those things, if our “luggage” sank we wouldn’t have cried. I wasn’t fully aware of the concepts of minimalism or simplicity at the time, it seemed they were out to find us.
Lucky for us, my husband inherited a house in a large village in Romania. Luckier still, we found a five hectare property with deep green lush grass up to our waists, ears of corn the length of our lower arms and a cob house – the place we call home. As new homeowners we thought we had bought our dream, in reality we bought ourselves a lot of work. The first year on our property we cleaned up our land, garbage pile after garbage pile, broken fences serving as the perfect locations for mini dump sites – all hiding underneath that luscious grass. We picked up rotting (not decomposing) shoe after sandal after plastic after rusty nail.
In seven years this inherited waste has turned into forty cubic meters of properly placed garbage in a landfill and more than fifteen cubic meters of scrap metal. The land is now about as pristine as we can leave it.
Throwing away the garbage produced by others really made us stop and think.
- How much is enough?
- Do things really make one happy?
- Why do people not live in better terms with their natural environment?
Waking up with the sun, going to bed with the stars, we started to live in a way that neither of us had before. Simple didn’t happen overnight, it was a progression from this thought to that. We began to put heart and soul into each home-cooked meal, we took a curious delight in picking peas from the garden and pleasure in raising sourdough, goats and now our daughter.
The happiness on her face as she runs outside barefoot into the wind is priceless. When she finds a mud puddle she conquers it like a duck. Her handmade clothes and handcrafted toys are shaping her life and every fiber of her being. Simplicity is all around us.
Will we ever enter the realm of running water again? Perhaps, when the time is right. One of our clay buildings is crumbling down under the pressures of age and rain from the north, but it will surely make an excellent natural pond liner. Our dug well serves its purpose of water for washing up and for very minimal irrigation during the long dry summers. On our one speed bicycles we are exercising our lungs, going back and forth at least once a week, two kilometers each way for artesian drinking water to nourish and care for our bodies.
A sense of being is explored, made increasingly conscious each and every day. Tonight we are watching our two and a half year old dance with such energy and emotion to classical music on the radio, I wouldn’t change this moment for the world.