Sometimes I have a snug little homestead of 3-10 acres. It has an orchard with apples, pears, peaches and maples.
It has a small bit of land for wheat – because I’m insane and dream of growing my own bread.
It has a magnificent vegetable and herb garden.
And naturally it has chickens. They are content chickens doing chicken sorts of things and helping me make compost.
But sometimes, I dream of living aboard a boat. This is nearly the antithesis of a homestead. I want to wander about the world on my boat. Perhaps I will have a fairly anemic tomato or a small effort at herbs. But that sort of thing really doesn’t work on a boat.
My ideal boat doesn’t exist. I want the boat to be able to navigate rivers and canals as well as oceans. In case you didn’t know those are things that require different sorts of boats. Sometimes just because humans have built bridges too low and mostly because a boat safe at ocean should have a minimum draft so it doesn’t capsize in high seas. That doesn’t always work in inland waterways.
I want it all. I want to have a boat with a garden that can cross the pacific and travel up the Yangtze or the Danube or the Thames. And then I want it to be able to cross into those fabulous man made waterways that are left from a bygone era but that show you the insides of a country in ways that natural rivers don’t dream of.
Sadly most of the man made canals are no longer navigable. Few countries invested money in their maintenance after their commercial value was nil. But some still exist and call the boater to the interior of a country, where the fields and wilderness border the canal.
It’s my dream. To travel indefinitely around the world by water.
Of course, neither plan is practical to my lived life. I don’t have the money and will never be forced to decide between boats and homesteading. And the imaginary boat that can cross oceans and glide easily in narrow shallow canals is sadly mythical.
But let’s assume all options are available. And I’m suddenly the winner of a lottery. I wonder if I would choose the boat. It’s risk. It’s constant unending change. The homestead is safe and warm and if not utterly predictable, it has more stability than the the boating life. I fear that given all my dreams, I might easily choose the safest option.
I’m a creature of tradition and safety. I would choose practical reality.
But at night, as I’m falling asleep, I imagine my trip through the Grand Canal of China or the winding relaxation of a trip through Great Britain’s canals or the gorgeous views from Europe’s waterways.
But don’t discount the homestead. It’s a satisfying and good life.
It may not be gorgeous lights and locales but there is something deeply satisfying in working with natural rhythm of things to make food.
I could be happy either way. However unbrave I may be, either option is worthy in it’s own right.