Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Day 7 ... and they're calling for snow

   There are a lot of reasons to be prepared.  The LEAST of which is Zombies. lol  One of the things that has gotten lost in our crazy world is the idea of long term planning. (Unless it's our stock portfolios).  We live in a time where instant gratification is the norm and it stands to reason that when that is true, you tend to not think much about anything but the here and now.  Emails and iPhones and text messaging and skype...all just some of the modern  technologies that feed this Now! Now! Now! attitude that is being ingrained in even our children.  We're all guilty of it-- it's almost impossible to not be. We expect a reply to a text message or a phone call STAT because everyone (almost) carries their phones on the person 24-7.  We expect to be informed of news and things happening all over the planet IMMEDIATELY, because-well- we  are.

   We think we can go to the grocery store any time, any day (or night) and get anything we want. We eat foods out of season. We truck exotic (and even  basic) foods all over this country, so that if I want one, I can have a mango in March. In Illinois.  Or a tomato in January. Not a good tomato, mind you, but we have lost our ability to discern between really good tasting food and everything else. We have lost that because the processed food we eat is loaded with enough fat and salt and sugar as to disguise the honest flavor of food while it burns out our taste buds. I remember reading Sharon Astyk's book Independence Days where she was talking about how her family ate only local and seasonal food and once a month the children (one at a time) got to pick ONE thing at the grocery store that they really wanted from the fruit and produce department.  The taste of a banana or an orange when you haven't had one in a while is indescribable she said. It really made me think about how we take so much for granted. And everyone knows that when you take something for granted, you do not appreciate it. I am an old restaurant person and when you do that for a living for a lot of years, you have a terrible tendency to eat like a chainsaw going through a log.  Standing up. On the run. Hurry Hurry Hurry.  Over the years I have had to really become mindful about the WAY I ate as much as WHAT I ate.  When you eat like that, mealtime becomes one more chore, one more inconvenient waste of your valuable time when you could be doing something..I dunno...productive ?  We have forgotten how to slow down and pay attention. To savor. To become immersed in one of the most vital and pleasurable activities of our lives-- Eating.  I still love the idea of a 5 course meal...the delicious slowness of eating one thing at a time. Savoring the item, slowly and deliberately tasting and feeling the bite in your mouth, inhaling the aromas of exquisitely and lovingly prepared food. The colors, the sensual assault of spices, the textures...the Art.

    The past couple of decades I have been able to return to  growing my own food. Much of it anyway. I lived this way when I was in my late teens and early twenties, then got caught up in the working world and I was lucky if  I could grow a few tomatoes.  When I was in my forties I slowly began gardening on a larger scale again. And in 2001 my life underwent a major change and I suddenly had nothing but time on my hands.  In 2005 we moved out here to Honeysuckle Hill, where we had enough dirt of our own to put in any kind of garden we wanted. I couldn't do all of it myself but luckily, I had staff. lol We started at the bottom, building up raised beds with all manner of organic ingredients. Straw, leaves, grass clippings, horse name it and we used it. We planted fruit trees. Started an asparagus patch. Tried to tame the blackberries. Planted raspberries. It was exhausting. lol  It was heaven. 

  Nothing , and I mean NOTHING will reintroduce you to humility like a garden. It's miraculous. It's frustrating. It's spiritual. It's backbreaking. And until you have picked a pea pod off a plant in the early morning, when it's all wet with dew, and popped it into your have not lived. It the skies refuse to rain, you worry. If the Japanese Beetles descend, you freak. When there isn't enough sun. When there's way too MUCH sun.  When the spring rains just won't stop and you can't get the plants and seeds in. When the spring rains won't come, and it's like trying to garden in an asphalt parking lot. Even in winter you worry. Not enough cold. Not enough snow to impact the ground water levels. Gardening is a gamble. Sometimes all the great plans in the world are for nought. Other times, you wind up with so much bounty that you learn how to preserve it, remembering that last time when you had almost nothing to get you through the winter, and had to buy everything. (EGADS!)  You plant things that seem like a good idea and at the end of the season, you cross that thing off in your garden journal. Too high maintenance- didn't grow well here- not a good yield. Not resistant to bugs or blights or whatever.  You live and you learn. And you LOVE it. And even after a hard year and you are so glad that the garden is finally put to bed and the season is put your feet up and the fist seed catalogs start coming in the mail. In late January. And you start to dream...

  There are so many ways to preserve the food you grow or buy or get from your community garden. Canning, dehydrating, freezing, brining, pickling, curing.  So much to learn. So many ways to go about feeding yourself and your family.  To be prepared for emergencies. To weather out the storms of life. Or whatever else might happen in this world...

  Today is the Irishman's birthday--I have to go bake that boy a cherry pie !

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