by KEVIN TAYLOR & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & I & lt;/span & n the fairy tales, it's always something along the lines of a magic bean that turns somebody's life upside down, spawning a journey with many perils that leads, in the end, to contentment everlasting.
In real life, say on a Saturday morning in August, the agent of change could instead be a vintage tent camper that suddenly appears in a driveway.
It was hot enough at 10 on this particular Saturday that beads of sweat were popping out of foreheads in full cartoon mode when Ryan Haws leads a visitor to his Coeur d'Alene driveway.
"It's 1980 ... she's older than me," the 23-year-old says, giving a voila hand gesture to reveal a popup tent trailer with one sad-looking wheel blocked by thin pieces of board to keep it from rolling away. We stand a moment and take it in. It had been sitting, unused, at a previous owner's house for three years and developed a leak. Haws has spread the tent's torn canvas; it is in need of washing and sewing. Many of the innards -- seats, tables, dividers -- are stacked on the other edge of his driveway to air out for cleaning and reassembly.
It's the magic bean all right.
Imagine if you went off to work one day and came back that evening with this trailer in tow, excitedly telling family and friends that you and your spouse and your child plan to sell everything that doesn't fit in the trailer in order to crisscross the country in search of an organic farm to call your own -- even if it takes two years.
Imagine what people might say.
"My mom, she's so funny. She's always saying, 'Don't do this. Don't do that,'" says Rachael Jensen, Haws' wife. "I was trying to get her to say one thing positive about our trip. There was a long pause ... and finally I get some text back: 'Well, I just can't see any benefit to being homeless and poor.'"
After another silent beat for comic effect, Jensen and Haws let out a giant laugh.
& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & C & lt;/span & ertainly, the notion that they will hitch this little trailer to the back of a Buick Century and go sailing out onto the highways will raise an eyebrow and prompt a silent prayer from more people than Jensen's mom.
But Haws and Jensen don't see themselves on the path to transience. No, theirs is a classic quest story. There have been frustrations and chafing and wanderlust for several years in their lives and finally the lightning bolt hit one day that made everything clear: They need to live on an organic farm.
This is not merely a yearning for a bib-overalls-and-kerchief experience. There's more:
Serenity Farm, as they are already calling it, will be the sort of organic farm where people come to learn about organic farming, and where visiting high schoolers can learn about nutrition and there will be demonstrations of green building techniques and possibly tattooing and metal sculpture and even pampered getaways in an organic farm country B & amp;B.
More eyebrows rise. Additional silent prayers are offered.
It would be easy to see Haws and Jensen as wild-eyed fairy tale enthusiasts swooping towards the inevitable windshield of reality. But they are not much different, really, than the people who settled this country. Once they find land of their own, they expect it will take years -- step-by-step, starting with produce -- to build the farm they envision.
Haws wants independence and self-sufficiency. "For me, the whole point of the farm is not to have to report to a boss ... and be able to spend more time with my family."
He also objects to the soul-less nature of most contemporary house-building -- where it's more about the profit margin and less about appropriate siting, sizing or material use. This is why he'd like to eventually build examples of small "green" guesthouses "to show there are different ways to do things."
"I've wanted to have a bed and breakfast ever since I was 13," Jensen says. "I didn't know when I would do that, maybe at retirement. ... It just kind of ... it all gelled at same time."
The frustrations, the yearnings, the visions suddenly became a plan this year. The couple joined WWOOF (World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms), which is a network of people much like themselves -- or at least much like the people they plan to become -- where visitors can stay and work on a small farm in exchange for room and board.
Through WWOOF they have made contact with other young families running organic farms and plan to spend up to several months each at a variety of organic farms around the country, learning and making contacts as they go.
And as they go, they hope to find home.
"This may sound weird," Jensen says, "but I have a really sensitive sense of smell. I will know home when I smell it."
This is a wonderful line to end the story, but there is a postscript: The couple had planned to leave for southern Oregon and a farm called Rogue Valley Brambles more than a week ago.
Jensen made this recent post on their blog (journeytoserenityfarm.blogspot.com):
"The repairs to the trailer canvas are what seem to be taking the longest with all the water damage, mouse holes, and general falling apartedness. It would be AWESOME if we had an extra grand just laying around so that we could just replace the canvas. But ...
"All things happen in the time and for the reasons they are meant to. ... There, of course, is also the belief that this wouldn't be much of an adventure if everything ran smooth."
Oh, hell no. Magic beans never work that way.[email protected]