What the hippies got right.

I've started to notice litter...everywhere we go.   This always seems to happen with most of the projects I work on - no matter the subject it begins to seep into my brain and then like an odd awakening I start to see it everywhere.    While doing  a documentary on genetics suddenly cloning becomes front page news and identical twins begin an invasion - while working on a film about The Wizard of OZ  I notice references to the story in commercials and in print constantly.    And with litter...well I've noticed you don't have to look far to see it and now I have a compulsion to pick in up.  Taking an evening stroll in the park with my daughter, I spot a plastic cup, I pick it up.   I wonder if I would have done that a week ago - I hope so.  

Yesterday we traveled to THE FARM  It's a place I have heard about for years but never made the trip until now.  If your ever in the area of Summertown, Tn its worth a stop by.   In 1972,  a caravan hippies from San Francisco traveled the United States in search of a place to call home.    They ended up in Tennessee on a spread they called THE FARM.   But unlike most "intentional communities" from the 60's The Farm has survived.   Cynthia was our guide.  She is a founding member of the Swan Conservancy, a land trust that bought up surrounding lands for preservation.  We took a magical hike to the "tall falls"  now a part of the Swan conservancy's land trust.

As we hike and talk, I notice how fit and young Cynthia looks.   She's lived at the farm since 1975, where she and her husband have raised four children.  She looks fantastic! She tells me the early years were tough raising children and living below the poverty level but then she worked for the State of Tennessee and launched the green initiative in schools, helping implement recycling programs.  After more than a decade of service she's comfortably retired now, a grandmother with a one daughter who has chosen to live on the farm as well.   Cynthia admits its nice to have things like a car and a washing machine.  When I ask her why she thinks The Farm survived she says because we were able to stay true to the founding principals.  Whatever the reason, it seems to work and I can't help thinking its not a bad way to live, as my daughters plunge into the waterfall.   We return from from our hike and as we drive away I realize  I never saw one piece of litter any where!  The Farm's land was pristine and cared for as if it was truly loved.  How groovy cool is that.

A different kind of vacation...

You know how you plan the big summer vacation to go to the beach for a week to relax, catch up on reading, reconnect with your children, walk on the beach with your husband and have some quality family time.  But as the date approaches somehow your children sense your secret desire for a dream family vacation,  like how horses sense fear or sharks smell blood.   And during the hectic packing phase their training begins. As if they are preparing for battle, they begin to test each other with new bickering techniques.  Well crafted jabs of sarcasm that could drive a Buddhist monk into orbit not to mention a  mom.   But  the day finally comes and you load up the car and go.... and of course the vacation is good but somehow feels exhausting and even though you're glad for the time with your family, when the week is done you feel like you might need some time off for some rest and relaxation. 

Well this year our family vacation is different.   We've combined our work with our family,  something that hasn't been done since Laura Ingles Wilder's Pa made her a balloon out of a pig's bladder to play with while they slaughtered the family hog.    But what the heck, my daughter Jane loved that book and so did I.  So we are piling  the family and gear into a very large and beautifully decorated RV and crisscrossing the state picking up litter, listening to great music, meeting fabulous Tennesseans.  My only secret desire on this trip is to survive.   By day two we've already experienced more than a month of beach vacations and at night my kids fall into bed tired and sleepy.   What more does a mom need? 

Harlan at Montgomery Belle State Park

Harlan at Montgomery Belle State Park