Step Into My Time Machine…

[Previous Rural Farmgirl, April 2009 – May 2010]
Have you ever wondered if you were born during the “right time” in history? Certainly I know that I was, but there are moments when I can’t help but to think I would have loved the Wild West.

I wouldn’t have done well in the Victorian period; although I love so much about that time, I am too much a “free spirit” to have ever been able to walk in those shoes trying to conform to the era’s views of women. I have never fit into any one mold too well.
I love to watch shows like Lonesome Dove and Little House on the Prairie and see the wild women of the West, with their long flowing skirts, surrounded by beautiful horses and the nearest neighbor a half-day’s buggy ride away. They were highly capable, yet somehow maintained, a  “softness” about them. While their lives were certainly busy with the chores and challenges of the day, it was less invaded by the world around them, and they had more freedom to break rules and design their own existence. As I sit here at the computer, or pick up the phone, or check in on Face Book and send a message out on Twitter, the world always seems so close. Lately the wide-open spaces have been calling me.
Most of the time having the world a mouse click away is simply wonderful. Recently, I was sharing with friends how great it is that I can get calls and messages from my kids who are outside the country, and I never have to wait too long for information updates. Oftentimes it is as simple as opening up Face Book to see that they have left a comment. In those moments, I love that I am in the 21st century. Yet there is that “wild” part of me that longs to be disconnected from the technological world and more connected with nature. There is that part of me that likes the challenge that comes with having things not come so easily.
It seems to me that back then, even with the distance between the physical homesteads, there was a sense of community that seems to be lacking in the world today. It saddens me to drive past abandoned grange halls. I could sit outside of them forever and envision the tales they have to tell: the bands playing and children running and women sitting around an old handmade quilt loom tying down a quilt for someone’s soon-to-arrive bundle of joy.
When I get to go to my in-laws’ cabin in the mountains I feel like someone lent me their time machine and I can step back in time. There are no phones, no computers, no power, and the outside world seems a universe away. There, nature seems to have a front row seat. The noises and the smells are more sweet and intense and the colors more vivid. As I step out of the car upon my arrival, my eyes close and I take in a deep breath that relaxes all of me. There is simplicity there, where the mundane takes center stage and there is nothing pressing other than the need of the moment. Things like gathering water or firewood or picking berries take precedence.
What I love most about my time there is that my thoughts are free to roam. I don’t have the interruptions of the world, and stories and tales and songs can pour out of me. The smallest of things can inspire me the most, and physical labor becomes a close friend, bringing with it a physical exhaustion that is easily substituted for the mental exhaustion I often feel. This time away is a refueling time for me. It’s as if I have stood under a cold shower and let the cares of the world rinse away, replacing them with new and exciting stories to tell. It is in those moments that I feel more alive, more connected with my own being and with God and the world around me.
What a unique time we live in. We can enjoy the comforts and conveniences of the modern day yet step back in time, even if for only a moment. It isn’t always easy to find the time to unplug from the cares of the day. I tend to make doing so harder than it ought to be. I am learning, however, that I can take little mini-vacations by doing some simple things like unplugging the phone in the evenings, shutting the computer down after 6:00 P.M, going for a walk, or taking a glass of iced tea out to the deck. I like to sit down with my feet curled up just as the sun is setting and allow the worries of the day to follow it over the horizon. So go ahead, step into my time machine there is room for us all in here.

  1. Aunt Jenny says:

    Yep..the old west. For sure that is the time I would pick. I would love that era. I feel like most days I could give up modern conveniences easily…well, after my knee surgery and recovery time is over..haha. Really though, that has always been my dream too…and I agree with what you said about the Victorian Era…I don’t think I would do as well then..but the wild west..yep..thats the ticket!


    Kindred spirits… there is just enough "rebel" in me that the women of the west seem to fit. Sorry about the knee surgery..

  2. Carol Alexander says:

    I’m new to your blog (blogging, period, actually) and love it. I’m reading the diary of a young girl who ventured into the bush of Papau New Guinea to translate the Bible for them. She is a five hour hike from the nearest airstrip. Reading this has been stirring up the same types of feelings in me, too. Yes, I live in the country (family would say the ‘boonies’). Five miles from town, though, seems too crowded most days. May we all take the time to connect with God’s creation, rest and meditate on a regular basis.

  3. Carrie says:

    Hey Rene!! I am sitting here at my computer with the pouring rain outside and dreaming about my delicious days in Washington and Idaho! We have yet to have summer here in my portion of New York. However, I have been sleeping in my little TagALong and pretending that I am in the woods camping! Sick, huh??

    I am glad that you get to enjoy summer on your side of this big country!


    PS–You mention granges…I never knew much about them, but went to private school in an old grange building! It was really cool. And the last couple of years I noticed that there are some active granges who put displays in our county fair. I guess they are not all gone!

    Carrie~ Summer has sure hit here, reaching about 104 for the last week or so. I do uderstand that in some parts of the country Granges are still active. Wish it were true here.

  4. Gary says:

    Good Bloggie Rene’…
    I think we all yearn in some way for a "simpler" time, however my Mom was always quick to point out that "simple" is a relative notion. The days of yesteryear were simpler in many ways, but without all the "conveniences" you mention, those times had their own complexity, usually involving good old fashioned elbow grease.
    I like to think of the days of my Mom’s youth, when there was passenger train service, and you could ride from our farm community to the city for 10 cents. The most appealing thing about times gone by to me is the one thing which is glaringly missing in our own times: Good Manners.
    GodSpeed to Y’all…!
    in Tampa

  5. Nicole says:

    And what about Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman?! Love that show (we recently watched the entire series on DVD)!


    Loved her….. GOOD CALL!

  6. Denise says:

    No west for me,but,I would have been happy in New England in that era.Although I love my computer access I don’t do the facebook thing or twitter.I have a phone for emergencies which my friends got me after I broke down in a snowstorm.However I can write a mean letter and I make a practice of doing so at least once a week.Sometimes it’s just a thank you note but people sure do love getting them.Stepping back from the present and taking a look at where you’re at should be something we all do.Love your blog ,always look forward to it.


    Thanks. Letter writing! I too love it.

  7. Amanda Baker says:


  8. Patricia says:

    I can appreciate your view of the "old west" from mini-vacations. I have these fantasies sometimes too. I believe that we are wistful about it because escaping to the woods is a relief from the stresses in our lives…and we can take our many dirty clothes home to the washing machine even if we hang them to dry. We don’t have to make our own soap, always wash in cold water until our skin cracks, and wear clothes for many days because we only have 2 dresses, one for every day and one for good. The authentic "simple life" was not so simple and definitely not easy. It was very very hard work and we pick and choose which parts to incorporate into our very rich and easy lives in the 21st century (to which most of us return).

    You are so right for sure… It always looks more "romatic" then it was. Althought, I do make my own soap..

  9. katmom~Grace says:

    Oh Rene’,
    so aptly put…"Where nature has a front row seat"….
    luv it!

  10. Ann says:

    Ah the "old" days..
    I am not that old but I have had six childrens. Milked the cow and made my own butter. Kept the garden and did all the canning. Raised chickens for eggs and meat and did the butchering at home with our own hands. Raised hogs for meat for the table. Sewed the childrens clothes and didn’t have two nickels to rub together. Hard work. Love it…yah wouldn’t trade it. But the "rose colored" glasses don’t show people the "real" side to it. It is hard work. But no other way to raise a family.
    Love the blog.

  11. Debbie says:

    Love this one Rene! Yes, I too sometimes think I would have liked being alive in another time period.. I do love the Victorian age and even had a Victorian Theme Wedding with the horse and buggy to boot! My hubby loves to try and convince me that I would not have enjoyed the lack of cleanliness and all that dust flying up from under the buggies wheels as we rolled along the countryside,but I am determined to keep my romantic notions about times gone by and even pine for them when I feel the need! We too are blessed to have a " get away from it all" kind of place. Ours is near the sea! Our very small and efficiant ( under 500sq feet) summer cottage is a three season solar powered little slice of heaven where we go to shed the " trappings of modern technolgy" each summer for a few weeks…Gradually our cell phones have become part of our summer scene due to aging parents and kids being more independent but everyone else and everything else MUST WAIT for us to return from vacation… REMEMBER THOSE? Vacations??? You have the right idea about " disconnecting" at certain times of day or night… I think that is about the healthiest thing I have heard on how to live well in these modern times since the invention of the world wide web!

  12. citygirl Bj says:

    The early 1900’s would be the time for me, in the country. My grandmother was alive during that time and I actually have a written history by one of my aunts from that time. It was a hard time but the women in my family are full of vinegar and were the"if I can’t get it done I’ll do it myself". I am that kind of woman. My daughter and I joke about us both being from the wrong time period, she’s 30’s and 40’s girl. Only thing is if I had been born in that time instead of this time I would not be alive, having had a kidney infection at age 4 and going in to acute renal failure I would have died. But I enjoy much of that period in my mind and some physically. I do hang most of my clothes, have even washed them by hand( had the blisters too) I garden, have a spinning wheel, can card wool and make yarn, knit and crochet as well as sew,quilt and embroider all of which my grandmothers both did. I have chickens and hope to some day have a small farm and have a cow to milk and make my butter and cheese. I have made my own bread and jam and have tried my hand at canning. The things I don’t know I can ask my cousin who was born before me and enjoyed a country life with our grandma that I wasn’t able to being so young. My cousin is all I have, none of my siblings share my countryness and can’t remember what mom and grandma used to do. I’m an odd duck here and sure feel it most days, but thank God that there are birds, flowers, horses and chickens close by to get that country feeling. When I think about that time and the clothes they wore and the heat we have I wonder how they survived. Most of us strip off as much as possible, they wore layers and layers of clothes. I have several historical books that show pictures of women farming in those days all had those long dark dresses or skirt on. I’de like to take a ride on a wagon train sometime in authentic clothes and see what its like. Anyone ever do that?

  13. ladylocust says:

    My first blog. Pretty exciting for a hick like me. I adore your references and the romantic side of the picture; however, I am way too practical and see the hardships that accompanied the picturesque views. I grew up on a ranch and recall taking turns waking up every two hours to tredge through the snow and check the stock. (At this point, don’t sniff or your nostrils will stick together.) I was once awaken by my mother saying, "Here, get this lamb in the oven. I have to go back out." Stress management included mucking out the barn. Work was measured by wheelbarrow loads. But as you say physical labor is great therapy by comparison to mental exhaustion. I think the main difference is the reward. With physical labor, there is an obvious reward whether it is a clean barn or a live lamb bouncing around in the cold April sunshine. I always say, "When I die, feed me to the coyotes. It’s one less calf they’ll eat." What I do before I die is more important. I now live in the mountains with my two kiddos, and yes I do have to deal with power outages in the winter and bears consolidating my fruit into neat little piles, but I wouldn’t trade it off. I love where I am. The mountain air is good for the soal.
    Kudos – I so appreciate your blog and perspective.

  14. Wanda says:

    My husband is always saying he wants to get away to a cabin in the woods. I think he would miss his electronics way more than he does, but a cabin in the woods, what a get away that would make, especially if it was in the mountains and by a lake.

  15. suzy says:

    I love this one Rene’, My hero as a child was Annie Oakley. I thought she was so cool.I always loved horses and owned two growing up. I remember fantasizing I was living back in the western days.Now days I spend alot of time thinking how I’ll put another garden in here or there. I also have a favorite spot to kick back on my porch and watch the sun rise. On the other side of the house, on the deck ,I can watch the sun set. Does it get any better than that ? I have to say that secluded cabin does sound great, too.
    My friend and I were talking the other day about how we think it is important to teach our chldren and grand childen how to grow their own food and how to preserve it. Bless my little grandaughter’s heart , she got so upset when her brother told her hamburger meat came from cows. She did not want to believe it.I distracted her by taking her to the garden where she tasted a fresh raw pea and all was forgotten.Living in the country can be hard work now days , but I know it was alot rougher back then. Still, it would be fun to go back in time for a day.( as long as I wasn’t put on scrub board duty) Love to all, Suzy (Texas)

  16. Sharon says:

    Living in rural Canada for 25 years….and having lots of baby lambs running around my kitchen when it was too cold outside…..nothing like it. A great life.

  17. Jamie says:

    I’m new to your blog and love it already, a women after my own heart. Sometimes I feel displaced between the modern world I use on an increasing basis and the simpler times I enjoyed growing up in rural southern Illinois. I didn’t have a cabin in the mountains but instead our family’s retreat was a cabin on Kentucky lake. Originally it didn’t have the conveniences of air conditioning or even indoor plumbing at one point. My Aunt Kathy would make fritters for breakfast, at night we’d roast marshmellows over the camp fire from twigs forged in the woods and then would go to sleep, one room for the adults and one for the kids. At times there would be a good ten to fifteen of us cousins bunked high and low in the cabin. Some of my best childhood memories are from there. Years later, I’ve learned how to find that place in my heart everyday, where I can go there when I need to. Sometimes it is through the magic of a good book, sometimes a movie will remind me, other times my mind will just find it’s own way. Today however your blog brought me back there. Thanks! It’s fun to find out who you are between the best of all times.

  18. Martha Cook says:

    Hi, I am a Lecturer, an officer of a State Grange – and have been involved with the organization called Grange since 1994. We are very interested in seeing Granges continue on, and even begin again or anew, in some of those buildings some of you have seen. Would be happy to answer questions about Grange for anyone. Martha

    Great to meet you Martha,

    Thanks for the offer to help us understand more about how we can revitalize the granges in our own areas… feel free to email me at

  19. Gale says:

    I love MaryJanes Farm magazine and the entire concept of connecting with the feel of the earth and elements around us no matter where we live. Even though I am a "Urban Girl" I am a farmgirl in my heart! I have been reading the blogs about being in another era. So often I have felt the pull of the early days of our countries development. Such as the wagons trains traveling across country. They needed to use every bit of there skills and energy to make it though each day. Even though it was very hard they still knew how to enjoy the world around them. I try every day to touch the earth and enjoy the beauty of the world around me. Thanks for helping me feel good about where I am.

  20. Bill Bartmann says:

    Cool site, love the info.

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