We sort of had one growing up, where the family had some land in the country and my parents let a very eccentric man live in a rennovated hippie school bus parked on it, and eventually he built a network of little huts that were each beneath the area threshold where a building permit would be required. He maintained the land and the things we built on it, like tree houses and ziplines over gullies (all farcically unsafe, but a kind of heaven for a 10yr old self and siblings). He lived there until they sold the land, and he moved in with his estranged brother on another piece of land, just the two of them, not speaking for years.
It was certainly less genteel than described in the article, but this pattern hasn't disappeared. People I know with land have had long term tenants on the property, sort of Kato Kaylin long term guest characters, and as a retirement plan, it certainly beats being warehoused in a retirement home.
If there were a deal where I could park an airstream on someone's back 40 in exchange for some minimal property maintenance and gardening into my late 70's and 80's, that sounds appealing. There would probably even be competition, so I should start thinking about how I might interview for such a role that I might prevail over the other ornamental garden hermits.
The hermitic relationship removes risk for the hermit buying remote land, I guess. Saves you being caught with somewhere that turns out to be a dud.
I think these similarities are mostly superficial. The key difference being up-front cost, sustenance (food/water/shelter), and expenses.
A hermit (as described/imagined here) on someone else's property would focus solely on gardening and basic maintenance while enjoying the luxury of not paying for landscapers, electricians, builders, plumbers, etc (and enjoy the time spent not doing all of those jobs themself).
Henry David Thoreau would somewhat comically fit in as a particular modern day silicon valley archetype.
“I told him, that as he worked so hard at bogging, he required thick boots and stout clothing, which yet were soon soiled and worn out, but I wore light shoes and thin clothing, which cost not half so much…and in an hour or two, without labor, but as a recreation, I could, if I wished, catch as many fish as I should want for two days, or earn enough money to support me a week. If he and his family would live simply, they might all go a-huckleberrying in the summer for their amusement. John heaved a sigh at this.”
Rich city person?
The hermits in these stories advertised in the paper. Do what they did, they were not acquaintances with the owners.
Can you type with long finger nails?
"Mr. Hamilton agreed to pay his hermit £700 provided he lived in the hermitage seven years. His only equipment during this period must be a Bible, optical glasses, a mat for his feet, a has sock for his pillow and an hourglass to tell the time.
In addition, he had to wear a camlet robe and never under any circumstances cut his hair, beard or nails, stray from the grounds or speak to anyone."
The concept raises questions about power, class, voyeurism, contemplation, and loneliness. Reminds me of this story (pardon the source)...
"""As for the contracts, they were usually very rigorous. The most famous arrangement between one such hermit and an aristocrat called Charles Hamilton illustrates the strict conditions under which a hermit was supposed to act:
(A hermit must) continue on the Hermitage seven years, where he shall be provided with a Bible, optical glasses, a mat for his feet, a hassock for his pillow, an hourglass for timepiece, water for his beverage, and food from the house. He must wear a camlet robe, and never, under any circumstances, must he cut his hair, beard, or nails, stray beyond the limits of Mr. Hamilton’s grounds, or exchange one word with the servant.
Unfortunately for Mr. Hamilton, the only known hermit that agreed upon these conditions lasted merely three weeks at his “workplace.” One day, he vanished from the estate and was later seen in a local pub, probably enjoying his freedom with a pint of beer."""
In all seriousness, that now sounds like a very 'wow look at how out of touch rich people were' sort of thing. . . . That I absolutely could see being a thing today.
He's regarded as a very important religious figure in my region and home town. I am quite sure a lot of more conservative people would find the idea that he was an attraction for rich people utterly offensive.
I find this very fascinating because as I grew apart from my catholic upbringing and started questioning things, after visiting Francis' alleged hermitage, I could never shake the thought that it didn't seem very remote, secluded or uncomfortable...
It seems like more of a framing issue, "garden hermit" feels like an eccentric ostentation, writer-in-residence feels like philanthropic patronage