Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mad Max Meets Little House on the Prairie

The land
You know how certain snippets of conversations stay in your memory, no matter how long ago they may have taken place or how insignificant the person you were talking to may have been in the grand scheme of your life?  Twenty years ago I had a conversation with a guy who I had a brief but intense friendship with (can't even remember his last name now, pretty sure it was Italian and started with an M.)  But there was something about this conversation that struck me as prophetic at the time, and while I can't remember much of it now, what I do remember is this:

We were discussing the impending collapse of civilization, and I, in my youthful exuberance, was all excited about it, saying it would be liberating and return us to a simpler way of living.  My friend - Jay - said, "Like Little House on the Prairie."  And I said, "Yes, exactly!"  And he said, "Yeah.  But it's going to be Mad Max first."

The reason I'm thinking about this now is because my blogging friend Claire commented on my last post that what I'm doing makes her think of Laura Ingalls.  And since that conversation with Jay is never too far from my mind, I've come to automatically think of Mad Max when I think of Little House on the Prairie.  In my weird little view of the world, I actually enjoy this and see it as a kind of balance.

The thing that struck me this time though, is that where my land is (yes, that's right - MY land!  It's official; I'm now a land owner - WOO HOOOO!!!).  Anyway, ahem.  Where my land is, it's already a lot like a cross between Mad Max and Little House on the Prairie.  So the prophecy really is coming true, just not in the way I'd imagined.  The truth is, if when Western civilization collapses finishes collapsing, life out there will simply be MORE like Mad Max/Little House on the Prairie - a change in degree rather than paradigm.

I guess now would be an appropriate time to mention the movie.  Sigh.  I've been avoiding this because this little movie about the Mesa, called Off the Grid: Life On the Mesa, presents an exaggerated and one-sided view of what it's like out there.  Like any other place in the world, there are good "neighborhoods" and bad ones (as well as the very human tendency to overact for a camera crew), so if you watch this movie, please keep that in mind.  There is also a mix of people out there that is far more varied than just what's shown in this film.  The Mesa's a pretty big place.  My friend Rusty actually wants to make a different film that would show another side; I'll enthusiastically help him if he does.

That said, however, there is definitely an outlaw sort of feel to the place, which actually appeals to me for a variety of reasons.  It provides a certain kind of freedom (e.g., from building codes) that makes it worth dealing with the inevitable dangers of such lawlessness.  That's the thing about freedom - it's more often than not holding hands with danger.  And I'm fine with that.

Since I've made a pact with myself that I won't get too spiritual/philosophical on this blog, I'll shut up now, but if you're interested in reading more of my ruminations on freedom vs. safety, I posted on my other blog about this about a year and a half ago:  http://thepollinatrix.blogspot.com/2009/10/swan-song-for-moment.html


  1. Ah, polli, I know another young woman who's also looking for a spot for when our civilization finishes collapsing... I don't think she really want a Mad Max sort of things. I don't think she has Laura Ingalls in mind either... But who knows...

    Congratulations on your being a land-owner. May your land be an oasis for the soul and the seeking.


  2. Welcome to the club! The happy feeling I got when I received the deed to my land is still there.

    Hoping it isn't Mad Max... or The Road, but it won't be Little House on the Prairie, either.

  3. Claire - The impending (or not) collapse of civilization is definitely not my primary motivator for this project, nor is living a Mad Max or Laura Ingalls type of life, but more what you say about having "an oasis for the soul and seeking." Thank you for that blessing!

    jicky - Thanks! Yeah, ANYTHING but The Road.

  4. You are now a landowner! I feel I should start calling you Lady Mad Ingalls. Congratulations on securing your oasis.

  5. Rural America still lets people express themselves more than "mainstream" suburbs and cities. I grew up on the prairie (which was a scarier place than Laura Ingalls Wilder let on in her childrens' books) and now I live in an Appalachian county of 950 square miles, two stoplights, and 7500 people.

    I'm not planning for the End Times, or the collapse of the government (although some of my neighbors are). It's not an easy place to live, but my husband grew up here, and we're managing.

    It's good to have elbow room, isn't it?

  6. Rebecca, that's what I want. Elbow room. Here in DC there isn't much. Can't wait to get move out to Terlingua next month.

  7. Eryl - Yes, please do call me that! I love it.

    Rebecca - Appalachia would be second choice after New Mexico. I've loved it when I've been there. Yeah, I'm not planning for the end times either, or - I should say, my "plans" for disaster of any kind are far more about where I am spiritually than physically. And yes, elbow room is delightful. Although there won't be much of it in the bus with my son and three-year-old :)

    jicky - so DC is where you are? That's quite a move you're making. Congrats!

  8. woohooo to you
    congrats on being a land-owner :)

    I had the entire series of Little House books as a kid, they were a favourite, right up there with secret seven and famous five

    curious about your comment that building on the mesa provides freedom from building codes? here in australia things are so tied up in beauracratic red tape that owner building for us was a massive logistic/legal nightmare, so would like to know more about how you get to build without meeting any council/county requirements

  9. I'm a gypsy and lived all over, but Texas kept my heart and I'm moving back. DC has only been home for a few years. I can't take it anymore!

    Northern NM is lovely but I wanted more land than I could afford there.

  10. Kel - there are lots of areas that have ridiculous codes, but rural areas tend not to have many or even any. There are no building codes or inspectors where I'm building either.

    Part of the reason I wanted a property 10 acres or larger was that septic would not be required and I can save that money for other projects.

  11. Congratulations! This is very exciting to know the land is now purchased and the hive will begin being built. We read today about beehives and I thought of you.

  12. You had me at "Mad Max."

    In case you hadn't guessed, I LOVE apocalyptic themes. The end/collapse/paradigm shift of civilization. Goes with the territory of being a science fiction junkie. And Mad Max is one of my favorite concepts of all time. Could actually happen, that's why.

    There are two mentalities, I suppose; when the end comes, there'll be people who will try to live as they do in Little House on the Prairie; and those who live like Mad Max. That is, you'll have a peaceful portion of people who settle, farm the land, live virtuous lives, help each other, form a community, etc. Then you'll have the scavengers, the reavers, the pillagers, the cutthroats, who'll roam the land preying on the LHP people.

    Something to think about. And that picture DID conjure up both Prairie and Max imagery in my head.

    AWESOME post. Congratulations on being a land-owner!

  13. Very nice to find your blog. I will be following it regularly. And congradulations on the land. You will not have any regrets. What you will be teaching your children is beyond what you even know. I will make comments when I think I might be able to offer you something to think about. My first thought is to consider a propane generator. Gasoline has issues that propane does not, Like carborator dirt and water in the gas. They are about the same price. The bus is great, and you will do fine with it. I think your name is Susan, so that’s it for now, just be safe, and enjoy your learning experience.

  14. we obviously live in the wrong country for owner-building!

    Jicky, if you don't have a septic system, what do you have? Perhaps a composting toilet? Do the authorities consider if the property is larger than 10 acres, then your plumbing systems won't affect anyone other than you?

  15. I don't know the reasoning behind the rule, Kel, but since the Big Bend area will never have a dense population it's pretty moot. I will have a composting toilet ala the Humanure system. Simple and nothing to break down.

    There is a gentleman in Australia who built his own rammed earth house.


  16. Kel - Thanks! I'm curious - what method did you use to build?

    jicky - Yeah, I only have an acre, couldn't afford more. I've actually spent a lot of time in Texas, as my family is in Baton Rouge, and the only thing between NM and LA is Texas. I also lived in Austin for a while. I'm a gypsy too, and once I gain financial freedom from owning my own land and house, I intend to travel!

  17. Jennifer - Thank you! I love knowing that beehives call me to mind for you :)

    Postie - Thanks! No, I did not know you were an apocalyptophile (is that a word? Blogger has underlined it with the dreaded red squiggle). But it makes so much sense that you are.

  18. Hi Lou, thanks for visiting and for your support. Great idea about a propane generator. Reading your comment sent me off on yet another round of googling. Yes, my name is Susan. My blogging friends tend to call me Polli, but I'm becoming partial to Lady Mad Ingalls :)

  19. Lady Mad Ingalls, I was born in New Orleans though the gypsy in my soul came from being a military brat. Both my parents' families are scattered now since Katrina.

    Mark me down as a fan of apocalyptia since my 9th grade reading of 1984 and Brave New World.