“Mom, why is there a goat in the pantry?”
March 19, 2012 § 3 Comments
I suppose the answer to the question posed in the title of this entry begins with a couple’s vacation to Hawaii that sparked a passion for a simpler and more agrarian way of life.
Tim and I came to the Big Island for our first visit in 2004 and we knew within ten minutes that we were going to make the leap. And it was a leap. Both of us had good jobs, a house with the “right” address, a couple of cars, kids in private school. Tim was in sales – no surprise there. I was teaching at the time. When school was in session, I hardly saw my own children. I kissed them in the morning before I left in the dark, and I made it home in time to kiss them goodnight – most nights I made it home in time. I wanted to do so much in the classroom and with so many different lessons, there were hardly enough hours in the day to make it all happen. I loved my students. They made me think and excel. The administration a little less. So you had the perfect storm: tropical island calls and a historian is told that there is “no place for politics or religion in the teaching of history.” I was ready for the next adventure and we bought a ten acre coffee farm in Hawaii. Did I mention that Tim and I knew nothing of farming coffee? We loved gardening but it is very different growing a few things to add to the dinner table and farming in order to provide for your family’s income. The first year found us like “deer in the headlights.” We knew the avocados had to come off the tree but we didn’t know how exactly that happened. The transition wasn’t as easy as we thought it would be. It was difficult to leave family and friends so far behind. It was difficult for me to leave my profession. Reactions to our move ranged from encouragement for cutting loose and “living the dream” to anger and sadness because they realized the great distance meant that everything was going to be different. We had no clue about what we were doing but we knew this family had found home.
Now, I haven’t forgotten about the goat. The question about why there was a goat in the pantry is a reasonable one to be sure and deserves a response. But as I was hearing my daughter’s words and thinking about an answer, everything about why we moved to Hawaii came to my mind at that point. This was not a path I planned. It just happened. And there are times when I find myself wishing for a more conventional life. Usually, when I have lost my patience with our unfinished coffee shack. “Unfinished” is key to the answer to the goat. You see, there was a time when we had built a pantry but had yet to finish the exterior doors. And so Brie – a goat of some intelligence and definite perseverance – learned where the oatmeal lived. And on occasion when she thought no one was looking, she would quietly cross the temporary boards – move the glass lid without breaking it – and help herself to breakfast. “Mia, there is a goat in the pantry because this family has chosen an exercise in letting go of perceptions of what life is suppose to be. We have decided to do what we love to do and let go of “shoulds” and “have-tos.” It is an unconventional life by some standards but it is a beautiful expression of individuality.” Did my husband and I lose our minds that day when we stepped off the plane in Hawaii? Perhaps. But I now have a door that keeps the goats out of the house most days and I am grateful for this luxury in my life. Prior, I never even considered the benefits of a proper door. Now, even though I often long for a well-organized and comfortable home, wonder sometimes just how many farmers’ markets I can do in a week, and feel a bit overwhelmed by the jungle’s testing of our weed whipping ability, I do love this exercise we are living – including the goat in the pantry – and I am grateful for this simple, agriarian life.