Thursday, 12 July 2012

Eco-Heroes - The Earth Contact House

Sometimes when I'm doing something really mundane and manual, I go off on little mind trips.  Recently, while making strawberry jam, I was transported back to Missouri and my Aunt Gwen's kitchen in her super eco-friendly house and I thought I'd share this little journey with you...

Early in the 1980's, my Aunt Gwen and Uncle Shanny sold their lovely, traditional, brick home to build an earth contact house in the open countryside of the Missouri River Valley.  This meant the new house would be constructed underground with only the south facing wall having large windows to maximize  passive solar heat. It was pioneering stuff... seriously ECO WARRIOR! This raised a few eyebrows in my family, I can tell you! 


They thought it would look like a Bear's house, something out of a fairy tale.  Dad said he didn't fancy having to chop wood for the wood burning central heating.  Mom said she was sure it would be dark, like living in a cave.  My other aunts and uncles just tutted and shook their heads.  


But when it was done, the house was beautiful.  The front was traditionally styled with a lovely brick facade, elegant windows and brass outdoor lamps to light the way to the welcoming front door.  Inside, it felt like home, decorated in Aunt Gwen's immaculate style!  


For me, the best part was outdoors, several acres of bountiful gardens and orchards.  I would arrive early on Saturday  mornings to pick fruits and vegetables, often bumping into deer munching the pea shoots or rabbits having a go at the cabbages.  It didn't matter, there was so much grown there and Uncle Shanny and Aunt Gwen loved having nature all around them.  


It was magical stuff and I knew it at the time.  I made the most of it,too.  I learned how to preserve vegetables, freeze soft fruits and make pickles with Aunt Gwen in her sunny kitchen.  It was so much fun and the food was fabulous! 


Now, when I make jam in my little English kitchen, I remember those lovely days at the earth contact house. I didn't realize then, but quietly, in their gentle, domestic way Aunt Gwen and Uncle Shanny were Eco Heroes and truly inspirational!


Who has inspired you?  I'd love it if you'd tell me... leave a comment!

The photo is NOT Aunt Gwen's and Uncle Shanny's house.    : )

4 comments:

  1. WOW! I love that post! That house looks like you could cimb onto the roof of that house. It would be fun to sled down your house in the winter!:) Did the inside look like a normal house? How long did they live in their house? I really enjoyed this post. I hope to comment soon!
    Love,
    Jessica

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    1. When you visited Aunt Gwen and Uncle Shanny's house you couldn't see it until you were right in front of it because the whole thing was built into the side of a hill. We would actually be walking on top of the house to go to the gardens and orchards! Inside, it was EXACTLY like any other house,nothing was different at all. You wouldn't know you were inside a hill. Uncle Shanny and Aunt Gwen lived in that house for a very long time, I should imagine it was over 25 years! They had a lovely home and were very happy there.

      Love,
      Aunt Deb X

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  2. Oh how absolutely wonderful - it looks like a hobbit house. And how wonderful for you to experience it too. We've always dreamt of doing this, but sadly it's a lot more difficult in the UK and I don't think it's ever likely to happen now - but I still dream!

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    1. Don't give up...you might still build your dream home. I love the new cob houses being built in the UK. I understand they are very energy efficient and you can't get more GREEN than straw, clay and sand! Speaking of straw, have you seen the houses made out of straw? Amazing!

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