Radical Homemaking

treechairToday I carried my computer, a mocha, and a candle up to the tree house to write. Admittedly the candle (Lemon Loaf) was ridiculous as an add-on, but a bit of fire seemed a good way to bring a tad of warmth to a coolish late-August morning. In June I hauled up a card table and Mark sweetly carried up this patio chair, doubting I’d actually use it. But use it I have, and more so now that farming work primarily involves harvesting, giving more time to read or write up in the trees.

Late summer light shimmered through the thinning canopy this morning as a gentle breeze moved maple leaves this way and that. Chipmunks stashing nuts, Towhees hunting for bugs under fallen leaves and Robins tweeting each other (!) from tree to tree kept me in good company. So long as the weather holds I hope to read and write in the treehouse often in the weeks ahead. And I hope for a few more nights sleeping under the stars so I can listen to the wildly vibrant nightlife in the forest and the occasional owl who lives nearby.

I’m beginning to feel as much at home outside as in. Maybe more. Houses for people used to be used primarily as shelters for sleeping and to hunker down in during storms and winter cold. Now they are used round-the-year-round-the-clock for living. Dens, nests, burrows, holes, caves and hives still function primarily as shelter for God’s other creatures, so perhaps some primal part of me still yearns to be outside. Maybe years and generations of living in houses meant we largely became ill at ease (dis-eased?) with the Great Outdoors.

Returning to the classroom every fall left me feeling ill at ease the other way. All the sudden I went from living mostly outside to living mostly inside an office or a classroom. I missed witnessing the enchanting fall scurrying of life in the woods. I could see bits of it from my office window: leaves changing color and falling to the ground, bees in bushes going after the last summer nectar to shore up food for winter. But seeing it made me long to be in it. To sit by the hives, to work down by the creek pulling up non-native plants so I could smell, hear and see fall activity–to participate in it. This is my second year of rebellion. Of not going back inside. I am grateful for the choice and chance to keep living outside a while longer and do not take that choice for granted.

Gratitude for this good, earthly home fills my soul. And wonder that God created a Home that works together so seamlessly. Where sunlight, wind, rain, dirt, trees, creeks, berries, and the lives of a host of creatures are integrated into daily and seasonal cycles that keep Life moving forward.

I’m practicing paying attention and learning to be astonished (as Mary Oliver says). An existential contentment seems to reside Outside. Perhaps it’s simply a place where the inhabitants don’t overly worry about the future but perform the tasks of the day expecting good–acorns falling from the trees, the abundance of Fern Creek cucumbers (currently) for nibbling, pollen and nectar for the taking.

I am reminded that all is well in the big scheme of things.

Who knows what earth will be like a thousand years from now? Perhaps it will be unrecognizable to humans, maybe even mostly uninhabitable. But I imagine some sort of life will continue that can sing praise to the God that began it all and will sustain it so long as Earth exists.

May I take my homemaking outside and live radically aware of life, singing God’s praise for it all.



  • I hear you Lisa and rejoice with you that you can spend so many hours communing with God and nature in His creation. It is indeed wonderful not to have to cut ourselves off from that when the school year begins again for those who are still tied to it as we both were until recently. I have spent quite a bit of time watering as our very wet Spring turned into a hot and dry Midwestern Summer. Fortunately, this Summer hasn’t been as brutally hot and dry as last, but it is still uncomfortable at times. We are now within weeks of moving into our geothermally heated and cooled new retirement home. We have had 4 pullet eggs with the promise of many more. We too are enjoying a bountiful harvest with more to come, although preserving it for winter is more difficult this time as we have been “camping out” in a small home with many of our things packed in the garage awaiting the move. This has been especially difficult for Carolyn. It has not gone according to schedule, but yesterday the garage door was installed and the stairway down from the back porch was roughed in. Our local electrical utility is yet to hook us up to the grid, so many things including installation of appliances are waiting on that. Our dream is to also install solar panels at some point and generate our own electricity, but that will have to wait a bit until our piggy bank recovers. We trust you are all well. Thanks for posting various recipes, some of which we hope to try. Enjoy the Creation. I am leading an SS class tomorrow on that very subject. God bless you today and always.

    • Yes–and your journey is a similar one to ours. Building our home with the intention of making it efficient and earth-friendly was a wonderful adventure, even with the unexpected challenges we encountered. We also put in geothermal heat/cooling and have been very satisfied with it. We had an analysis of our roof for solar panels but were told we didn’t get enough sunlight to merit them. Even so–we attempt to live lightly in terms of our carbon footprint–stretching toward more ways to do that over time. And blessings back, Mike!

  • Ah, Lisa. A beautiful piece. I’m so glad you’re spending your days and nights in nature. And you ARE like Mary Oliver- observing it all, breathing it in and recording it because it is too good not to share. Also, it is a really nice confirmation that I’m not the only one who feels claustrophobic indoors- like we’ve built these shelters around ourselves that we reside in although unnecessary- especially in beautiful summer and fall days like these. Real life- the natural world- is out where you can look at the ground and see something living. I hope to come visit again soon:)

    Love to you and Mark!

  • Thank you, Jamie. I do wonder how many such souls are out there, feeling a bit claustrophobic or at least uncomfortable with all the time they are required to be indoors!

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