Tuesday, February 1, 2011

See you in a Hundred Years


From the Dust Jacket:

Logan Ward and his wife, Heather, had traveled the world—Kenya, France, Peru. But nothing compared to their next adventure: a trip back in time, living the life of dirt farmers in rural Virginia circa 1900.

Disillusioned by city life, the Wards pulled their son out of daycare and traded skyscrapers for silos in search of simpler times. Adopting strict rules that limited them to only the tools that were available at the turn of the century, they faced a year of struggles, where unremarkable feats—putting food on the table, attending a neighbor’s 4th of July party—became the worthiest accomplishments of their lives.

With no phone, no computer, and few distractions aside from irritable livestock and a plague of garden pests, Logan and Heather began to reconnect and rebuild their fractured marriage. More than that, they found what they didn’t know they were looking for—community. As the skepticism of neighbors and family turned to admiration, the Wards developed a network of support and love bound by neither time nor technology. By renouncing everything from cell phones to supermarkets they discovered what’s important in life, whether a hundred years ago or a hundred years in the future.

Logan’s chronicle of the Wards’ four seasons in the farming community of Swoope is an honest and compelling account of one family’s struggle to reclaim their lives from our fast-paced, materialistic society—a memoir for our modern age.  

See You in a Hundred Years is for anyone who has ever daydreamed about the good old days—and wondered how good they really were.

Discussions questions: 
  • Would you be able to do what Logan did?
  • What would you miss the most?
  • Did you like this book? Why or why not?

 To see the list of all FARM CHICKS' of POLYFACE BOOK CLUB Reads, click on the "Book Club" tab at the top of this page.


Anonymous said...

I don't think I could do it. I would not be able to live without an available and close emergency room or a phone to access emergency care and to be able to talk to family. As a kid I remember thinking that if I'd have been born a hundred years earlier I wouldn't have been alive (had a number of asthma crises as a kid). And to put my kid's health at risk would be pointless. Now that my kids are grown and living on both coasts, I would hate to not be able to hear their voices.
Also, i'm not so sure how I'd do with the snakes.....

Anonymous said...

I am still reading the book but I have some thoughts so far. I loved that Logan mentioned the book "My side of the Mountain" which was a childhood favorite of mine. And as a young adult I seriously considered going into the woods and living out and away in a cabin, either in upstate NewYork's Adirondack Mountains or in Alaska. But, I didn't do it and now- at 50+ years, I am not of that inclination!

I find that having horses, chickens, goats and growing vegetables is enough for me. I have learned a lot in five years on a 5 acre ranch in the Arizona desert. In the next few months, my husband and I are moving to a larger place farther out, where we will be off the grid and I will be a licensed goat cheese maker/seller. Those will both be new challenges for me. I don't miss corporate America which I left last spring, but then my husband is still empolyed and insured. That is important to us.

I would be able to do what Logan did but I do not get the point, as of yet, beyond that of personal challenge and the good story to write about. I appreciate what he and his family are doing but I wonder where it will go. It is a very entertaining book so far, I relate to the animal stories in particular.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Lissa -- maybe when I was younger, and single! I would like to move further out in the country, but it has to be something the whole family does together. It would be hard to give up the kids' activities; once you start on that hamster wheel it is hard to step off.

I wouldn't like having to drive a long way to get places.

I loved how he would talk about things not always going right for him and how he wasn't afraid to share the trials he went through.

Oh, and I totally thought the author was cheating when he said he couldn't do anything invented in the last 100 years, but if he could talk one of his neighbors into doing it for him that was okay. I guess it's hard to create exact rules for these types of experiments, but that one was pushing it I think.

Anonymous said...

I also agree with Lissa -- what was the point of the whole experiment? I've been reading pretty much non-stop (yesterday and today), thinking that, at the end, they would STAY and continue the life. But [SPOILER ALERT] they don't. And in the end, I found myself disliking them immensely -- it seemed like a very narcisistic thing to do, especially to their child. Was the whole point simply to cash in and write a book? If so, they are no better than any other reality-tv star looking for their 5-minutes of fame. The fact that they bailed out as soon as possible after their year was over was extremely disappointing. It doesn't seem like they learned anything at all.

Anonymous said...

Overall an entertaining book. But compelling, challenging, encouraging? Not as much as I had actually hoped & expected.

Have you ever watched those 'reality' shows where they're building motorcycles or cars or doing home renovations and there is incredible stress, pressure, problems and worries because everything has to be completed in an absurdly short timeframe? That's how their 'launch date' struck me. Now, of course, they could have been pondering and working towards this for years which just didn't show in the book, but the impression given is that a fancy struck them and a couple of weeks later they pitched everything and moved with no real plan, much less an actual place to implement that plan in. Coupled with the artificial dead line I am amazed they did as well as they did. Perhaps it is simply a difference in personalities, but all I could do was shake my head. My husband and I have been working on our move to the country (so to speak) for some years now. Saving money, checking out real-estate (and all its ups and downs like siting, neighbors, zoning, taxes, ad nauseum), reading copious books, learning how we can, developing and refining, and chucking and starting over our plan are all ongoing processes. To the extent, I will admit, that friends and family begin to doubt that this endeavor will ever get off the ground. Perhaps somewhere in the middle is a balance. But it still seemed like they could have saved themselves a lot of grief and enriched their experience by a little more advance work and less haste.

One of the parts that rang truest was the stress they experienced over the unrelenting heat and drought. How it taxed and strained them, as well as their animals, garden and well. When finally the rains came and renewed not just their land but their very hearts, I think at that moment it truly felt that they were experiencing what their 1900 counterparts did. For even though today we can ameliorate many aspects of it, we cannot change or control the weather. It doesn't matter how hard we work, how much we want it, how pure our hearts, a drought or flood or hurricane or tornado laughs at our illusions of control.

I wondered if he would tell of 9/11. Had they not gotten out of the city when they did, they would have been in the thick of it. But really, perhaps that sort of attack is today's version of hordes of grasshoppers wiping out a crop. Neither really seem to be controllable or understandable or predictable, but they leave devastation and death in their wake. Giving up our illusion of control is so often the hardest part of any struggle.

I loved their Thanksgiving. "I mean, last spring we didn't know how to plant a seed, and now look at this spread! I'm not sure I ever understand Thanksgiving before now." Another real moment. How I hate "Turkey Day." I don't know about you but I neither celebrate nor worship turkeys. But giving thanks, being grateful, is life changing. And how much more grateful and thankful when we begin to understand what really goes into that bounty.

Anonymous said...

Looked up on his web site because I was curious about eventual outcome. He stayed on farm for a while and now lives in Staunton. I was glad they didn't just up and move to NYC!

Anonymous said...

I finished the book this afternoon. I really enjoyed it because that is something I would love to do. I think it is a wonderful personal challenge to learn to become self sufficient. What better way to do that than total immersion? I also yearn to become disconnected. We did turn off our tv for a year and a month, my husband insisted we get it back. I am dreading having it back in the house because it can distract us of things that are more important. I think being disconnected can really be beneficial to your children, too. Not only can your focus more time on them, but they are not distracted by a glowing screen :)

Mary- I'm curious to why you felt it was a narcisistic thing to do.

Anonymous said...

I can totally see my family doing what they did or our own version of it. Clearly we are not all as well financed as they were which makes a big difference in such a drastic lifestyle change. I too would immerse myself in learning everything I could about what I was about to undertake. I think it would be a really exciting experience. Though I don't think I could limit it to a single year. Four seasons would give you a glimpse at traveling back to 1900 but not really be a fair barometer of life in that time period. Just as we have years of thriving and years of leanness now, how much more extreme were those fluctuations in 1900? Also I think in only a year a person would be limited to seeing the experience as temporary and "just get through it" -- rather than accepting it as your new reality and coping with the day to day challenges as your new normal. What I would miss the most? Right this moment I'm thinking how much I'd miss the internet and all the connections it provides me to the world around me. And my car, not being able to tool around as I pleased. But in actuality it would probably be little conveniences that I currently take for granted like a soft pillow or hot water on demand that would take that prize.

Anonymous said...

I think Leslie has a good point about "just getting through it." Sort of like their own version of Survivor. Tough it out and then go back to 'reality.' Gives it a whole different flavor when you can count down to when you can have all your luxories back - not an option for our 1900 predecessors.

Wendy said...

Seriously! A family decides to explore what it would be like to live for a year as close to the 19th century as possible and some of you are going to call them narcisistic? Or accuse them of cashing in to write a book? It was a personal challenge for their family and they lasted 10 more months than I would have! Good for them for being so curious and motivated to try it! Who cares if they went back to reality after a year? I would too!! I think it was a great story and I wasn't at all disappointed! It made me realize how much I depend on modern conveniences and how important it is to "unplug" and spend more time with my family and friends! Thank you Logan family for sharing your story!! I don't know of many people who could have done what you did!! It was a fun read!!

Anonymous said...

Wendy, I'm the one who called this book narcisistic -- and, although I appreciate the points that have been made, I stand by my statement. First of all, doing this with a two-year-old -- really? They had no clue what they were doing, and they were taking a baby with them -- great parental decision-making. And second, his first meal for his baby after their return to modern life -- french fries from a fast food restaurant. I'm sorry, but I really didn't like these folks -- I found Logan totally self-absorbed, and his wife virtually absent from the book. So, yes it was interesting to think about life 100 years ago -- but I was bothered by their doing this when their child was still so young, and their apparent lack of growth through their adventure.

@KMDRIC said...

Am I the only one who finds just a hint of irony that those who are attacking the author and his wife only do so from behind a cloak of anonymity?

Sheri said...

In their defense, we originally started this discussion on facebook and I posted all of these comments from those folks over to this page when we switched. They did post under their own names in our facebook group. I left them anonymous. My fault not theirs.

Also, in response to the gal who finds the Ward's narcisstic. I can see what she is saying and I can totally see why she would read the story that way.
I think because I had the opportunity to meet the Ward family, that thought did not even cross my mind. Logan does seem to come across as fairly self-centered in several of his comments in his book, but I think that is part of the beauty of this story. Human nature warring with different times.
Personally, I think it was such a great idea. I would love the opportunity to do such a thing - even with my 3 young kids. :o)

KMD said...

Ahh... Thanks for the clarification, Sheri!

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