Living in Place

For a New Year’s resolution, Clif and I have made a plan to use our car less and thus reduce our carbon emmissions. Our intention is to cut 1,000 miles from our yearly total, which was 7,800 last year.

Because we live in a rural community with no public transportation, a car is a necessity for us.ย  We must drive to the grocery store, and we must travel to sell books. Nevertheless there are plenty of ways to cut back, and one way is to become more involved with our town—Winthrop—which has a fantastic library and a new brewery, both of which sponsor many events each month. (This Friday night at the brewery is trivia night. Yes, we will be there.)

Another way is to go for walks and appreciate the natural beauty of the town itself, including our very own wooded road.

Whatever the season, there is something to notice. Sometimes the trees even look back.

As we walk, the crows are always watching. I was lucky to snap a picture of these two before they flew away.

Then there are the brown leaves on the winter trees,

and the little stream that winds through the woods not far from where we live.

I call this kind of close attention “living in place,” and it seems to me that focusing on what is nearby is a kind of meditation, which, in turn, can lead to an abiding of love of where one lives—town, city, country, or suburb.

In this time of climate crisis, a love of place is of utmost importance. Because in the end, we pay attention to what we love. We nurture it. We take care of it. We don’t destroy it.

Viewed in this light, living in place might be the most important thing a person can do.

52 thoughts on “Living in Place”

  1. The walk or bike ride to our house around the back way ( rt 135 to Waugan Rd to Annabessacook) is relatively hill free…

  2. A car is also a necessity for us but I always try to do everything I need to do in one trip. My French neighbours drive me mad as they go out in their cars multiple times a day for such a short space of time it can only be for small errands. I blame the fact that French bread must be available at every meal and bought and eaten within an hour otherwise you could beat somebody to death with the resulting stale baguette. ๐Ÿฅ–

  3. That is a wonderful resolution. I don’t drive a lot in an effort to conserve energy. Some weeks are better than others. We don’t drive the most economical cars. I do live in a car dependent suburb.

    I like the idea of living in place. I have a yard the size of a postage stamp, but we have a wooded area behind us, a stream and two small lakes where we can walk. I set up six bird feeders in my little yard and spend hours watching the birds come and go.

    Carbon emissions – They say cows are one of the greatest contributors, but I can’t imagine giving up a good burger.

    1. No matter where you live or how big your yard is, there is always something to notice. We gave up eating beef and pork years ago. Last year chicken, and now we are mostly vegetarians. At times, we throw in some seafood, but not very often.

      1. Wow! My daughter is also a vegetarian, with occasional fish. I had to go figure out my mileage, which was around 7,000 miles per year. I did drive to Florida once to visit my father, so that added a little more mileage than I normally drive.

  4. Love this post. We are lucky in that we live in a walkable city, and yet we are surrounded by greenery, and living in place is so important I think as t makes us appreciate the things around us. We have a car, which we use for grocery shopping, transporting the cat to the vet, going on trips. I don’t drive and I notice when my husband is away that I manage fine, and am happy to use a taxi if I have gone grocery shopping. I fly a lot for work, which can’t be helped given the transport infrastructure in New Zealand and the nature of my job, so am looking for ways to offset my carbon footprint. At least I walk to work!

    1. Sometimes flying is a necessity. Sometimes driving is. In between, we do what we can to live lightly on this beautiful planet. So wonderful that you live in a walkable city. That really is the best.

  5. Beautiful post. I agree with you about learning to live in and love place, and how it can make a difference. We’ve been looking for ways to further reduce our carbon footprint, too. Like you, we have the challenge of living in a rural area with no public transportation and everything being so far away.

  6. That is a good intention ad I hope that you are able to carry it our. Sometimes circumstances intervene and make a mockery of our best intentions. Walking is definitely a good idea so I hope that you get good weather for walking.

  7. That’s a wonderful decision/suggestion, Laurie. If each of us walked more, drove less, turned down the thermostat just a couple of degrees, picked up a bag full of trash each day on our walks, we would make a a difference, tiny as it might be. But that’s better than changing nothing.

  8. Lovely post Laurie, and I do agree, if we pay attention to our place in the world, we can take care of it. I think a lot of Australians are paying attention at the moment.

    1. Many thanks! Half-way across the world, our hearts are in our throats as we see pictures of the terrible devastation in Australia. We are grieving along with you and hope, hoping, hoping that we humans will finally come to our senses.

  9. Yes! I love this phrase. I too, must use a car. We are also rural so must drive to get to a shop but more than that it is necessary for me to travel 275 miles each way to support my parents and I must drive, despite having a perfectly good train line, because my support involves ferrying them to hospital appointments etc. But as much as I can I choose to live in place. There is always something to enjoy, something to notice, something to celebrate – right here on the doorstep.

    1. Sometimes we must drive. It is the same for us and selling books. We must go to fairs to get the word out, and some of those fairs are quite far. Longing for an electric car. The ranges have really improved. Will be writing about this in an upcoming post.

      1. Rick’s car is a hybrid vehicle, a blessing in terms of carbon footprint, but not so good at repair time. We learned that the HV battery is an expensive item to replace if the warranty has run out. $13,000! We were fortunate that the dealership finally agreed it was on them.

      2. Phew! Glad that battery was on the dealership. A friend just bought an electric car—more on that in an upcoming post. The battery in her car has a lifetime warranty.

      3. My old ’93 Subaru Impreza now has 453,000 miles on it. I will need to run it for as long as possible. Insurance is cheaper, repairs certainly cheaper, some repairs and maintenance I can do myself.

      4. The car is still a youngster by some standards. Subaru has a high mileage club, and our local repair facility has said he has seen one with over 700,000 miles come in.

      5. So impressed! Am I right in assuming that your roads aren’t salted in the winter? In Maine, it is usually the rusted bodies that do in a car rather than the mileage. But without salt and sand, our roads would not be navigable.

      6. No salt on the roads here in Oregon, just sanded in winter. I used to live in New England, which is where I bought the car, new. It was Ziebarted then (Ziebart went out of business not long afterwards), but it has still suffered some rust around the rear wheel wells, which is spreading.

  10. This is excellent. I’m trying to do more errands on foot or at least combine errands better. And during a recent ice storm, I went carless for several days as an experiment. It took a chunk of time to get to the dentist and back by taking a train and walking, but I saw it could be done. Hoping to do more such experiments and eventually give up driving.

    1. Wow! Impressed that you are planning to eventually give up driving. A little jealous, too. Unfortunately, this would be very hard to do in central Maine as public transportation is practically nonexistent. Keep us posted, if you have the time.

  11. Every little bit can help, Laurie. When I’ve measured my carbon footprint it’s pretty low until I start to add in purchased food, clothing, and assorted stuff one buys every year–general consumption, not excessive, and one site included books and magazines!!! It helped me figure out where to focus. Good luck with using the car less and enjoying living in place.

  12. Beautiful photos and love the New Yearโ€™s resolution!๐Ÿ™‚ โ€œLiving in placeโ€ is a wonderful plan for helping during these times and enjoying new and old discoveries in our local community. Enjoy trivia night and cheers!๐Ÿบ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. I agree on all points. So often we use energy to get to someplace for entertainment and stimulation, while buzzing by without noticing where we live and small nuances all about us. Another way to look at resource conservation is to “use up, wear out or do without” the stuff we already have. Keeping the existing car running a year or two (or ten) longer, means the less metal needed to be dug up, smelted, and shaped into the vehicle parts, less plastic was cracked and extruded into parts, etc. If we wear our clothes a few more times, then less water was used to make new clothe, etc. If we support local crafts and shop people, less fuel was used to deliver the stuff from workshop to the store to our closets, etc. Hey, you’re from Maine, like I need to tell you this? Oscar

    1. Tee-hee! I do come from frugal stock, parents who were raised during the Great Depression, and they passed their frugal, scrounging ways to me. However, there are fast food chains and big box stores aplenty in Maine and plastic, too. We all must do what we can and then try even harder. Not easy, and no one is perfect. But perhaps with collective action, we can all be good enough? A dream, I know, but one I’m holding on to.

  14. My parents taught me the same ways. Just being wasteful was wrong. I sure took it to heart. I can not bear to waste-now, the planet is suffering so there are more reasons not to waste. I like hermitsdoor comment. You are so right about driving less-If we all did that, what a huge difference that would be! Cheers to you for your light that spurs me on!

  15. Like you I live in a beautiful place surrounded by nature but the downside is that I need a car to do most things. My car is small and economical and like a number of other people who have replied I try hard to combine trips – it saves me money as well as being good for the planet! Good luck with your challenge and let us know how you get on please.

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