Epilogue by Thad Russell
My parents’ utopian vision for their lives runs headlong into the inevitable realities of aging, illness and death.
My mother and father were devout and practicing leftists. Radicalized during the tumult of the 1960’s and 70’s, they championed an alternative, back-to- the-land lifestyle for over forty years. They grew most of their own food, and lived “off the grid” in a hand-built house that got its electricity (when they were lucky) from the sun and the wind. They actively worried about the health of the planet, and were concerned about the political, societal, and environmental trends in this country and beyond. Their simple, organic, less-is-more lifestyle was their answer to what’s wrong with the world today.
My parents lived in Vermont’s rural, remote Northeast Kingdom, where the long, grey winters are a distinct mixture of beauty and misery. Their 35-acre compound was designed to be a refuge, a place separate and protected from the evil and disease of the modern world. It was a place we could all retreat to when the shit inevitably hit the fan, when the long-prophesized and always-imminent economic and ecological disaster of Man’s own making finally came home to roost. The garden, the root cellar, the well, the solar panels – all of this made it a self-sufficient place apart, a lifeboat to protect us from crisis.
What they never expected, nor planned for, was that the biggest crisis in the life of our family would end up playing out there, in the lifeboat itself.
Thad Russell lives and works in Providence, Rhode Island.
To view more of Thad's work, please visit his website.