Last week I was wandering around a few book blogs and ran across a review for this book by Logan Ward. I apologize for not making note of whose blog I read the review on. If it was yours please let me know and I will give you full credit for turning me on to this book.
Logan Ward and his wife, Heather were prototypical New Yorkers circa 2000: their lives steeped in ambition, work, and stress. Feeling their souls grow numb, wanting their toddler son to see the stars at night, the Wards made a plan. They would return to their native South, find a farm, and for one year live exactly as people did in 1900 Virginia: without a car or electricity- and with only the food they could grow themselves. It was a project that would push their relationship to the brink- and illuminate stunning hardships and equally remarkable surprises.
From Logan’s emotionally charged battles with Belle, the family workhorse, to Heather’s daily trials with a wood-fired cooking stove and a constant siege of garden pests and cantankerous animals, the Wards were soon overwhelmed by their new life. At the same time as Logan and Heather struggled with their increasingly fragile relationship, as their son relished simple joys, the couple discovered something else: within their self-imposed time warp, they hadf found a community, a sense of belonging, and an appreciation both for what we’ve lost- and what we’ve gained- across a century of change.
There have been many times I wish I could chuck it all and go back in time. Once when I was reading the Little House on the Prairie series to my young sons we decided to do just that. For one day, we lived like the Ingalls did. No electricity, no TV. We ate food that was suggested in the book and found simpler pasttimes to keep us busy like flying a kite and playing dominoes and cards. We had a great time- for one day.
The Wards had the courage to give up modern conveniences for a whole year. They did a lot of research before embarking on their adventure, bringing supplies with them that were only available in 1900. They experienced many hardships including a drought that threatened to dry up their drinking water supply as well as their food source for the year, and a 2 year old with a fever that made them question thier choice to not have a telephone or a vehicle in case of an emergency.
But along the way they experienced life at it’s best too; canning more then their estimated 300 jars of food to get them through the winter, the hospitality and friendship of a neighborhood determined to help them through their year, sitiing on the porch in the dark watching the stars while sipping bourbon, indulging in a Tootsie Roll (invented in 1896), preparing a Thanksgiving feast for family all grown from the garden and cooked in a wood burning oven, and falling into bed exhausted but satisfied from the back breaking day of work.
This book was not only moving but filled with hilarity as well. For instance when Belle, the horse, steps backward and the wagon starts to jackknife, Logans “foot pumps instinctively, searching the floorboards for a brake pedal” before Belle’s former owner Marshall simply hollars “Whoa”.
Logan Ward is brutally honest about his and Heather’s relationship throughout the book and their doubts as to whether all they have done is really worth it. I really enjoyed reading about their foray into the past and would recommend this book to others in a heartbeat.