April 26, 2009


The clouds hang low and threaten to let loose nourishing drops for my little plants. Birds' voices flit around noisily, and dogs make their presence known down the hill from us. The windows are open and all of the outside is allowed to flow in, and does just that, following the breeze into the front and out the back. It is quiet; none of our machines are making any noise, and while there's a hum from the neighbor's air conditioner, I sit in calm and cool at the kitchen table. Our home is clean and purged of excess after an entire day of spring cleaning yesterday; the same cleaning unearthed one of Fin's old toys that's quickly becoming mincemeat. Ryan is in the other room reading, without the TV on, and is about to take Fin out to play baseball in the back. Each look out the window catches another shade of spring green, made all the more pronounced with the grey skies and early morning light.

And all this peace, quiet, and solitude inspires me to pursue more of this sustainable life.

I have two books on the docket right now--Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan and Fresh Food From Small Spaces by R.J. Ruppenthal. While they cover different topics, the ideals behind those topics are the same: the net we cast in order to feed ourselves should become smaller.

We're trying this whole sustainable thing, and I think we're getting better at it. This morning I started my first batch of homemade yogurt; if this works out, I want to make cottage cheese next, and later this spring or early summer, learn from my mother how to make chevre from fresh goats' milk and hard cheese from cow's milk. The more I read, the more I want to learn. I've started to teach myself how to sew (we now have produce bags made from unbleached cotton muslin for the grocery store) and am trying every tactic to get Ryan to agree with me on the vermicomposting. (no luck so far with that one. He "has to put his foot down somewhere.")

And even after all this, I feel like we can do better. I am tired of succumbing to consumerism and long to be able to put things aside to live the simple life. Connecting with the earth and the people in it through everyday adventures brings me so much more joy than my shopping trips at Ross (unless, of course, one of them yields a low-priced Le Creuset Dutch oven in Caribbean blue). The things I want, lately, have been oriented around my want to create at home. I want a 3.5-quart Dutch oven (two mentions within two sentences? yikes). I want a cruiser bike to ride around the neighborhood. I want a patch of land to grow fruit and vegetables. I want a compost pile. I want a sewing machine to call my own. I want more and more fabric for that sewing machine. I want to spend all my time doing stuff like this.

So, maybe that's a little too much honesty for an easy Sunday morning. But I hope you understand what this is all about: it's a little bit about learning to cook, but it's mostly about making choices that tear us away from that strange preoccupation with stuff and help us better our relationships and lifestyles--lessening our negative impact on the community and heightening our positive one.


Julianne said...

Hi Amber -- your comment about the dog treat recipe this morning reminded me to come back and visit. :)

I thought I'd mention another option if Ryan's not big on worms in the house: Bokashi composting. My best friend (who lives in LA == small space) did a lot of pros and cons and decided it was better, for her living situation at least.
If you're interested: