Today I began interviewing hippies. I spent three hours talking with a married couple who began homesteading in the Ozarks in 1976, the year before I was born. I am grateful for the gifts of the stories they told, the experiences and wisdom they imparted, and the warm food we shared. Their time was invaluable to me (even though the digital tape recorder didn’t work).
This couple, now in their late sixties and early seventies, came to the beautiful Ozarks when they were in their twenties, with little more than a vision and a willingness to learn, to work. Their first years were fraught with challenges and setbacks—including their home burning down (which led to the blessing of the community throwing them a spontaneous house-raising party). They tell stories of what they had to do to make ends meet, and how those who could not wandered elsewhere... They tell of the kindness of the old timers, who’d let them use their telephone, or the occasional bath. Stories of a rich and alternative community that endured, back in the sticks and hills.
Today, their home is warm and spacious—an eclectic and inspiring place to sit for an afternoon: be it with a calico cat on the steps of the attached greenhouse, or while meditating in the shade of the screened in porch overlooking the bamboo grove. Their garden is a standard to which others aspire. In the summer, they grow almost all their own vegetables. Even in a hard winter like this one, they still produce their own greens. When our conversations had ended, I was sent home with a bag of raw peanuts and two of the largest sweet potatoes I have ever seen.
As I embark upon this interview series, I hope that I impress upon the interviewees how utterly inspired I am by their myriad accomplishments. Their lives give me hope that we can succeed in our own homesteading endeavors. Indeed, this couple are exemplary of our (sometimes forgotten) capacity to choose our own path. And an unspoken sentiment was expressed via a half dozen ideas: that of a peaceful contentment. They have their aches and ailments, their gardens are hard on their aging bodies, and their home is ever in need of repair. But they didn’t count their deficits. They count their blessings. I hope that when I am their age, I can look back and see my own path in the same light.
Terrapin Hollow Press is excited to break ground on a new, non-fiction project about the hippies in the years after the counter culture movement. A Trail of Wilted Posies: How the Hippies Lived On is an in depth exploration of how many hippies continued living their values in secluded, rural pockets throughout America. The book focuses on those who settled in the Ozark Mountains. The book will chronicle:
* Their early experiences homesteading
* Establishing communities of like-minded folk
* homeschooling, gardening, homesteading (and their surprising relationship to the old-timers in the hills)
* Their interactions with the rural communities
* How their visions and values played out
* Their perspectives on marijuanna
* Their thoughts on the world today
* And more...
A Trail of Wilted Posies: How the Hippies Lived On is slated for publication in the fall of 2014. It will be available in ebook and paperback formats.
If you have questions or comments about the project, we'd love to hear from you. Visit our forum (the link is to the sidebar on the right) and let us know what you think.