Monday, March 7, 2011

Inspiration: Part Two

All I seem to have to do lately is look around and I'm inspired. But not so much in the way you may think. When I go out I see people with their faces glued to their cell phones, texting or "social networking" and not paying any mind to what is going on around them. I see inconsiderate people far more than I see considerate ones. I see more cars and less bikes or people happily going for a stroll. I hear all the time about how hard it is to make ends meet these days and then I hear people obsessing over the latest gadget on the market. When I had cable I would watch news reports about food shortages and hunger crises, often very close to home.  I see people religiously watering their lawns and don't have a single edible plant on their property. I see more and more concrete, and less and less places to curl up with a blanket and a picnic basket. I could go on. My point is, everywhere I look I am inspired. Inspired to do it differently. For a long while I got caught up just like everyone else. I felt poor and unimportant if I wasn't driving. I felt poor and unimportant if I didn't have a 3G cell phone and a $100 cell phone plan so I could feel rich and important all the while being able to ignore you if you tried to talk to me. God forbid I had to talk to someone in the real world. Ick.

 I don't exactly know what clicked in me, but eventually none of what is so popular and mainstream these days was appealing to me anymore. Talking to people via text, email, Facebook got cold and lonely, and that seemed to be the only way people liked to communicate. I found myself getting more text messages or emails wishing me a happy birthday than I had cards or phone calls. I also found myself very unfulfilled. I was being inspired to break away from it all but I had no idea that inspiration would be leading me down a path toward self-sufficiency and a life of homesteading. Dragging my feet through big box grocery stores made me feel depressed, anxious, overwhelmed and drained and I started wishing that I didn't have to grocery shop anymore. I dreaded grocery shopping. Food was becoming a chore and I didn't really know why. I kept thinking about things like farmers markets and how I wished there were more of them in my area then there currently are. Something about farmers markets made me feel good. They made me feel connected to the community in a way that I wasn't feeling anywhere else. I kept thinking about real food, whole food, where it comes from. I often look at something and think 'how can I do that myself instead of relying on someone else to do it for me', and that thought process started happening with food. Could I grow my own food? How much? What can I grow where I live? Would it be worth it? Would I even be able to grow anything?

I started out small two years ago, growing just a few things in my small townhouse patio/backyard; cucumbers, tomatoes, chives, parsley, basil and some strawberries. It was fun, I enjoyed it, but something wasn't quite there. It didn't speak to me in the way I thought it would. Last year I tried again with the same things and again, wasn't feeling it. As the fall and winter came I dove head first into crocheting and knitting, something I hadn't done since I was a little girl. I loved everything about it; the calm and cozy atmosphere it created in the room, the busyness of my hands, my ability to create something essentially out of nothing. It was incredible. I started to look at crocheting and knitting, thinking 'could I do this and make stuff we would actually wear?'. A realization was starting to form in my mind that my independence had been quietly screaming at me for some time now to take things into my own hands and do them on my own, to be self-sufficient. I just hadn't heard or acknowledged it until now. One thing started leading to another. I began thinking about sewing clothes for us, about preserving food, using less electricity and more candles, making things myself instead of buying them, cancelling cable TV, line-drying our clothes, putting effort into cooking meals instead of throwing things together, making food from scratch, I started thinking about the garden again and how eager I was to get out there and see what I could was a snowball effect if I'd ever seen one. Thought after thought, idea after idea, it wouldn't stop. I started poring over books, one after the other (most of which are in my blog sidebar). Books on preserving food, homesteading, backyard gardens, food storage, sustainability. For a time I was glued to my computer reading blogs all on the same topics, or on proper bread kneading techniques, or what flowers go best in salads or as a tea. I was on a mission, and my first goal was to start breaking away from my dependence on a grocery store, and start making the stuff I was buying. I started with bread and after my very first loaf I was hooked. Recently I moved on to other baked goods I typically would buy like scones, english muffins, hamburger and hot dog buns, and pita bread. After making each of them I laughed because it really was so easy, and I think deep down I thought I wasn't going to be able to pull it off and would have to resort to the store again. I thought they would be too complex to make, or would be too much of a hassle. Now I've gotten used to making these things and I do so all of the time. It's still a bit early to begin planting seeds in the garden, especially since the forecast is calling for rain for the next 14 days, but I already have a list of seeds to order from the seed catalogue that now graces my kitchen table so I can flip it open and daydream whenever I'm in the kitchen. In the meantime I've started growing sprouts in the kitchen. Right now I have a broccoli blend doing it's thing in a canning jar on my kitchen counter, and I have some alfalfa waiting patiently to be sprouted next. They help me with my insatiable need to grow something, they taste amazing and they are so incredibly good for you. These small, maybe insignificant things to some are huge to me. They have given me fulfillment that I can't even express to you, and this is just the beginning. Making things from scratch, working with my hands, providing for my family in a way that has been lost in our current generations, gaining independence and travelling down a path toward self-sufficiency is truly a thing of beauty. I feel useful, productive, and yet again I feel inspired.

This new journey has me very excited. I've already learned a lot about myself and about past generations. I've learned about how much I take for granted and how much I don't know. There is a lot to learn but I plan on learning it as I go, by getting my hands dirty, experiencing some failures and hopefully many rewards, and the best part I think is getting to do this alongside my kids while they learn with me. If I leave a legacy behind one day, I hope this is part of it. It all starts with one person, with one step, and my hope beyond hopes is that my children will follow in my steps and then one day be the ones making them.

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