Wednesday, June 30, 2010


When I was little we spent part of our summer vacation visiting my dad's cousin Joy.

Joy and her husband Kent live in a cabin in the mountains of Washington.

They don't have electricity or indoor plumbing and they have to hike in or ride horses to get to their cabin.

They choose to live this way.

(I'm standing by the post)

We spent our nights bundled under blankets in the loft of the cabin and we spent our days riding the donkey and swinging on an amazing rope swing that swung out over the valley below.

We've only seen Joy and Kent a handful of times since that summer vacation.

They've come for family reunions and funerals, and when they come they bring with them the scent of campfire and the outdoors...and their banjos.

I've always been fascinated with Joy. She's beautiful and smart, and refined in a way I wish I could be, and I'm a bit in awe of her lifestyle. Joy sent my parents a Christmas letter once that was handwritten the old fashioned way, with ink and a quill pen. I kept that letter because of the simplicity it represented:

(you should read's beautiful)

Last summer I was pulling out of the parking lot at work when I noticed an old pickup truck. I slowed down because I was curious to see what kind of person drove such an old truck. A man with white hair and a big bushy white beard walked out of the store, towards the truck. As I watched him pull back an old army tarp and rearrange whatever he had in the back of the truck, I wondered about his life's story. I wanted to know who he was and where he came from.

In fact, as I drove to my parents house, I wrote the man's life story in my head...and I wished that I had had my camera to sneak his picture.

I had been at my parent's house for about 5 minutes when the doorbell rang. I got up to answer the door and saw the man with the white bushy beard standing there. It wasn't until I looked past him and saw Joy that I recognized Kent, the man beneath the beard.

I welcomed them in and we spent the next few hours talking. Joy told me her favorite part of living where they lived was the seclusion...the privacy they enjoyed. Joy bathes in a bathtub that sits in the middle of a field of wildflowers. When it's cold outside they build a fire underneath the tub to keep the water warm.

"There's nothing better than sitting in a tub of warm water with the rain falling lightly all around you," Joy said wistfully.

It was then I decided that I wanted to visit one day and stay awhile...because taking a bath in the middle of a field of wildflowers? Nothing sounds more serene.

Last week while I was at girls camp I had a choice: I could shower in a regular shower stall with ICE COLD water or I could shower in a makeshift shower, using water that had been warmed by the sun.

I chose this:

As I stood in that makeshift shower, feeling the wind blowing, and looking out at the aspen trees that surrounded me, I thought of Joy.

It wasn't a bathtub in the middle of a field of wildflowers, but it was close.

(picture courtesy of my dad...since I didn't take a single picture while camping)


Joann Mannix said...

So, you make this outdoor thing sound beautiful and romantic and actually, like something I wouldn't mind doing. Imagine that! But really, a bathtub in the wildflowers with gentle rain falling around. All I need is Robert Redford washing my hair, (like in Out Of Africa) and I'd be set.

Your aunt's letter is lovely, indeed. I am jealous of the life she chose. I think we would all be much better off if we patterned ourselves after her.

Nikki said...

I just LOVE this post. I have starred it in my reader and will probably read it several more times. It makes me smile.

Dazee Dreamer said...

That would be so awesome to take a bath in the middle of field, even tho I'm not a bath person.

Heather said...

Hey. Good drawing!!

My granny didn't have a shower when I was growing up and they would run a waterhose over a piece of plywood on their porch!! It wasn't warm but since it was 113 there that summer it was all cool. (Get it? Sorry.)

Your experiences - both of them - actually sound much better!!

Beth Zimmerman said...

Okay ... your post was all sweet and wonderful and I was feeling all misty and then I read Joann's comment and cracked up! Heavens!

Anonymous said...

When I was in the shower the other day, I wondered how amazing it would be if it rained warm raindrops and if the temperature was always just right. But then, I thought- principle of heat exchange: the weather wouldn't remain cool. Then I stopped thinking.

Joy makes me envious.

I think that drawing is so beautiful and neat. It really made me smile.

Bossy Betty said...

Love these thoughts and the reminder that simple pleasures are the best!

Tiffany said...

There is so much good to be said about a simple life. This reminds me of my great grandma (although she had electricity and indoor plumbing). She lived in a tiny home that was more beautiful to me than any big house. She owned two pair of shoes. Weekday shoes and church shoes. She had so little and was so happy. She was peace and calmness and order.

Thanks for the post. Its so lovely to remember her.

I think I'll go clean out a closet and get rid of some stuff.

p.s. I think you took the 'road less traveled' shower. Very cool.

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

A bathtub in a field of flowers sounds surreal, like a dream sequence from a movie. I'll bet it's beautiful!

CRAZYMOM said...

That picture is priceless. I think this post is exactly what blogging is all about. Remembering, recording... I loved it!

Michelle @ Flying Giggles said...

Joy writes beautifully! They sound like interesting people. Please take me with you, I want to take a bath in the middle of a field of wildflowers!

Lani said...

what a lovely post. Joy and Kent sound like people I would really enjoy meeting.

But I am kind of partial to indoor plumbing

Mr. Thompson and Me said...

just be glad your shower was made out of wood. Because trust me from experience.....tarps you can see through during daylight.

Which sort of ruins the shower in the middle of wildflowers experience...especially if you are camping with male friends.

adrienzgirl said...

The thought of a bath in the wild flowers field with the rain lightly falling to me sounds pretty close to BLISS.

However, I am quite certain I could not live without indoor plumbing. I'm definitely a modern girl.

Anonymous said...

NIce thanks for sharing, I think they are some of the lucky ones to be able to survive and enjoy life with so little technology. The choas of the world will hardley affect them since they built their lives from something more important than what society deams as the latest and greatest, wish we could all be more like them.-Cassie

jayayceeblog said...

That letter is amazing and so is the lifestyle they chose. Simplicity ... you couldn't have said it better!