This collection of essays is based on my experience living in rural Appalachia. Having pursued the dream of country living as a young man, after a twenty-year hiatus I returned to the land at age sixty and finally realized it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. As many fellow baby boomers retire and follow their bliss to hoped-for rural refuge, I offer insightful and contrarian advice to be careful what you wish for. In struggling to renovate my old homestead and resuscitate a former lifestyle, I name the place Sow’s Ear Farm and learn I can’t turn it into a silk purse no matter how hard I work, and question the wisdom of trying to do so in my golden years. In a wry, satiric voice, this book explores the pertinent issues about the reality of retiring to a rural lifestyle. There are no sacred cows or rose colored glasses in this disenchanted depiction of my would-be pastoral paradise—every aspect of the dream is fair game for lampooning.
While still employed, I longed for retirement in a rural refuge. Now, with the benefit of hindsight, I can say following your bliss can become following your folly. Beware—the lure of a home in the country is a strong siren’s song. Slick magazine articles and catalogues to the contrary, setting yourself up in a country lifestyle may mean you are setting yourself up for disappointment and only trading one type of stress for another.
Optimists might advise this experience is some sort of blessing in disguise—one of those inscrutable lessons the universe throws at us. To them I offer the remark made by Winston Churchill, who after losing an election and being told that it was a blessing in disguise, said “Damned good disguise.”