Review: See You in A Hundred Years: Four Seasons in Forgotten America
Have you ever felt so stressed out that you wished for simpler times? That’s exactly how Logan and Heather Ward felt. They were living in New York with their baby – Logan was a writer and Heather worked for a justice-reform think tank. They felt like they worked all the time, but were so stressed they never had time to enjoy anything. They decided to embark on a year long experiment and live like Americans did in 1900.
They decided that “If it didn’t exist in 1900, we will do without. And that means we’re not going to have e-mail, phone, computer, credit cards, utility bills, or car insurance.”
The Wards sold their apartment in New York and bought a farm in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. They had the electricity and water cut off and installed an outhouse and a wood cookstove. They bought goats for milk, a horse for transportation and seeds to plant. They did keep a phone in case of emergency, but kept it unplugged.
See You in A Hundred Years: Four Seasons in Forgotten America is Logan Ward‘s account of their year. It is published by BenBella Books. Logan is brutally honest in his account. At the beginning things were very difficult and the relationship between Logan and Heather was strained. As the year progressed, they became more confident and more adept at the challenges they faced. The Wards made a lot of friends and developed a real sense of community.
Neighbors came to tell the Wards about the attack on the World Trade Center and Logan’s reaction was “Over the past few months, I have been calmed by the lack of twenty-first-century distractions and humbled by the power of nature. Like the weather, the terrorist attacks were beyond my control. All I can do is cling to the simple assurance of daily chores.”
This is a fascinating, well written book and I thorougly enjoyed it. It certainly gave me some things to think about. I found this article about their experiment. In it, Logan said the five things they missed the most were the kitchen sink, washing machine, music, a good pencil sharpener and sandals. The five things they didn’t miss at all were the refrigerator, television, telephone, daily news and processed food. Somehow, I think my lists would be different.