Sunday, October 16, 2011
Dolly Freed: One Awesome Possum!
The summer I graduated from high school, in the shop-till-you-drop era of consumerism and Reaganomics, I read a book that saved me from the yuppie expectations and showed me how simple life could be. The timing was magical.
Though it might be difficult to present Dolly Freed as an artisan she is so inspiring that I can't help but mention her. Dolly wrote Possum Living in the rescission area of the 1970's. She was18 and had left school in the 7th grade at the age of 12.
This is a survival guide, but not for the reasons you might think. Dolly's brand of survival is of the 'Bloom Where You're Planted' sort. It posses the question, if you were to strip away all the trappings of your life who would you be? Could you survive? Could you be happy?
There is a sad, troubling thing happening between the lines. Aside from Dolly's pluck and cheer there is the underlying truth that she is living in poverty with an alcoholic father who seems at once overly permissive and possessive of his daughter. Dolly fully adopted his desire to live outside the money economy and at times, even the law. She is passionate but still very young and idealistic.
After writing Possum Living Dolly put herself through collage without a student loan and went on to become an aerospace engineer at NASA. When Dolly decided that she wanted a career closer to nature she went back to school and got a masters in environmental education with a specialization in biology. Later, when there was no funding to start an environmental education program she developed a pilot program on a shoestring budget that was an overwhelming success.
In the 2010 reprint Dolly includes an afterward that explains how she moved forward from Possum Living keeping her love of nature and simplicity while living within 'the system'.
You don't need to go the whole Possum, raising rabbits and chickens in the basement and distilling moonshine in the kitchen, to benefit from Dolly's wit and wisdom!