• Beth Hoffman

Water Heaters or Dancing Butterflies

I woke up in a panic today.


Flowers line the road

Inside, my mind is racing. There are so many little logistical things to deal with now that I have decided to stay in Iowa, the kind of things no one ever has enjoyed: Did we really miss the day to sign up for the outrageously expensive health care? Should we rent out our house or just up and sell it? Where will we live when John and I are on the verge of killing each other this winter while living in a 200 square foot tiny house?


Then there is the thrill of renting a storage unit. The excitement of meeting our $1000 deductible fixing our car (John just dented backing into my brother-in-law’s new truck). Oh, and let's not forget the water heater in our house in SF - it crapped out on the people who were renting for the summer. (Thanks for helping us out Jack!!)


Morning dew sparkles on the field behind the tiny house.

There is too the steep farming learning curve that is now our reality. The oats we decided to plant last spring were an expensive failure, a choice we made based on bad intel and an overestimation of how many oats the market in this region could actually absorb. And as I look at our spreadsheets, the price we’ve listed for hay seems too high as well.


But outside, the weather is glorious. 70 degrees this morning, the dew sparkling on every blade of grass. The breeze rustling the trees just enough to sound like small waves gently hitting the beach. A wren optimistically singing out for a mate, even now in August.

A cicada emerging from its creepy shell on a tree in front of our house.

It makes for a bit of a disconnect, this feeling of internal confusion while surrounded by the intrinsic hope of nature. This natural world and everything in it striving to succeed, every leaf, every bug giving it their all, be it the cicada emerging from its creepy shell or the racoon family trying to terrorize our garden for goodies (ha raccoons – we put up an electric fence!).


What a strange state of affairs to be the most evolved species on the planet, capable of building the Eiffel Tower, yet to have developed the brain capacity to spin ourselves up so tightly our purpose and vision are questioned. To have complicated our own worlds to the point where we never get to sing our wren song or to fly out of the cocoon we constructed to incubate our own creativity.


Today, in this state of panic – will we make a living at farming??? Can we afford health insurance?? – I try to ignore myself and to just observe the world around me. To watch the butterflies dance across the grass and remember how much more there is to my life than water heaters.

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