It’s a hot summer day in the Missouri Ozarks. We have been living in a yurt with no electricity, running water, or a fan for about two years now. On the one hand it’s really great because without electric bills, heating bills, or significant rent we require very little to survive. This means I only have to work 10 hours or less a week. This is as we intended it as we moved here when my son was 5 months old so my partner and I could both be at home most of the time.
Most summer days are pretty tough – 35-45C and humid with a good number of ticks out in the woods. But we don’t really want to go wandering the forest where they are because just moving makes you hotter. So we usually spend our days lying around outside reading aloud to one another in the shade. Staying inside the yurt isn’t an option, it turns in to a greenhouse and is unbearable until the sun goes down and the cooler breezes come or – *heaven* – a storm comes. But this summer we don’t have many of those. We hear the thunder around us but the rain and its cooling effects always seem to miss us.
So today we pack up the car: me, my partner Sage, my son Daegan (now almost two years old), and Sage’s mom, Kite. We head for Vera Cruz – a swimming hole in a tiny town (so tiny there are no businesses at all) in a creek. We brought some pasta salad we made by cooling pasta under spring water (no fridge in our house), adding salad dressing and a few veggies. We plan to literally spend the day sitting up to our necks in the creek, alternating that with time spent floating on a tiny inflatable raft. Well, Sage and I do. Daegan and Kite will likely go up and down the creek nibbling watercress they find and turning over rocks to find crayfish.
The place is packed with others who have the same idea. And then, about 10 minutes after we arrive someone comes with a dog. At this time in his life, Daegan is terrified of them and he wants to go home. Instead, though, Kite has an idea, let’s take everything downstream and see what is there.
We head down the stream, taking time to ride the raft down some tiny rapids a few times and then reach the bottom. There we find a massive pool with a small beach on the other side. The water is pretty deep on this end – over my head and most certainly over Daegan’s head, and he can’t swim. And so we come up with a plan. Onto the raft he goes and the three of us push him and all of our things to the other side of the pool and on to the beach where it gradually gets shallower until it is a perfect spot for a toddler to play. The shore is pretty great for us grownups as well with a nice big tree to give us shade. We sit and chat in the shade, taking time to play with Daegan or jump in the water when it gets too hot. A couple of times I hop on the raft and visit the extremely shady branch of the stream that also feeds this pool. It feels like places in the stories I’ve read about Louisiana – except in this case there are no alligators and we’re just a tiny bit too far north to worry much about water moccasins.
We still hear the huge crowds and the now multiple dogs barking at the usual swimming hole but they’re a whole world away as far as we’re concerned. Nobody else comes down to where we are all day and so we end up with our own private beach with a yacht to take out on the water when we want to. We spend the day chatting, watching our little boy, telling stories and, no doubt, solving all of the world’s problems. To this day it is one of my moments of complete satisfaction and contentment. All is well in the world, life is perfection and I’m surrounded by people I love.