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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

What are you passionate about?

That question has been on my mind this past week, but it's a bit of a round-about to get to why...

Early ;ast week, I was reading the Bangor Daily News, as I do each morning and was attracted to an article under the heading "HOMESTEAD." It was about a "classic Maine farmhouse" in Winterport which, while interesting, really didn't seem to speak at all about anything homestead related, at least in my understanding of the word. The article ended with a call for submissions: Send us stories about your house and land... 

Being me, I immediately put fingers to keyboard and addressed the topic of homestead as I understand it. After I hit "send" I did a little more research and discovered that they were using the term in a different manner... as a rebranding of their "family" section in the paper.  I also seem to remember somewhere, though I cannot find it now, a call for contributors that ask the question I posed as the title of this entry.

I did hear back from an editor, who wanted to speak with me further, and asked for photos to illustrate what I wrote. While we never talked, I did send her some photos from last year and shortly thereafter received a draft of the piece with her edits and captions for my photos, and it appeared in the online edition April 15.

On the same day I was able to answer the question in my own mind. I am passionate about "not losing the old ways." Yes, I am talking about what some call the Old Ways, with capitals, referring to the spiritual ways of our ancestors. But even more I am talking about what might be termed "secular" old ways.... growing, cooking, eating food without the use of chemicals or factories, being provident in the use of resources, being thrifty, fixing and not replacing when possible, sewing, mending, darning and even spinning and weaving to give a few examples.

I am most assuredly not "a prepper," neither am I Menonite or Amish. I don't do this out of fear of impending societal collapse or a sense of doom (though, honestly, I wonder how much longer things can continue to follow the current path) or for specifically religious reasons but out of a belief that "appropriate technology" includes the ability to use both new and old technology and skills.

I love the convenience of the Internet for communication. Social media is like chatting over the back fence or having a coffee klatch with a groups of friends, only not just with the back yard neighbor and folks in your town. I love the ability to research questions at the drop of a hat instead of having to make notes and hold onto them until library day. And I love the ability to quickly communicate via email with most folks in a time that suits me and have them respond in a time that suits them, as well as having a record of what was "said."

I know many consider telephones and mobile devices essential and appropriate; I have never enjoyed talking to disembodied voices on a telephone, not even when I was a teen girl. When I have had one, I have considered that it was a device for MY (not others') convenience and that it was not necessary to drop everything and run just because it was attempting to summon me. Now, using Tractor Guy's telephone account, I let everything go to voice mail and if necessary, return calls at my convenience. But I still prefer to avoid it.

I take advantage of the convenience of a supermarket, but prefer to buy ingredients and hopefully only those that I cannot grow. Even in pioneer days, folks typically shopped for coffee, tea, sugar (though in far less quantity that we do now) and even flour and baking powder. And I am glad that, if necessary, I CAN buy a package of frozen peas or a jar of canned tomatoes, though with luck and proper planning I hope to put up a year's supply of all such things.

I think it is important that we all be able to cook "from scratch" sufficiently to nourish ourselves. It need not be fancy and not necessarily even terribly varied but it should be stuff we like. And yes, if we were raised on packages and boxes and take out and fast food, I think it is important to learn to like foods made from basic, natural ingredients!

I think it is important that we consider waste as an important aspect of everything we do and certainly everything we buy, and strive to waste less. If you are in doubt that waste is a problem, especially food waste, check out this Earth Day offering from MSNBC Wednesday night,  April 22.

On another aspect of waste... who, these days, actually wears their clothes OUT, other than some small children? We do! When buying clothes we look for natural fibers and practical designs and therefore "good" or "town" clothes, when they become worn or stained, get turned into things to wear at home, on the farm. Farm clothes get mended... seams repaired, holes patched... until the fabric gets thin and then they help populate the rag bag. The Rag Bag... do you remember this? Old cotton clothes cut into pieces and used in place of purchased bales of shop rags, dish cloths, paper towels! And speaking of paper towels, there is no need for such things in our house, as tasks like draining bacon can be performed equally well by newspaper or brown paper bags.

I think it is important to, when you must buy, that you buy quality stuff, stuff that will LAST, and then keep it, repair it, use it or not buy at all. And, for me, buying such things already used adds to the value.

I am passionate about mending and darning, about home repair and small appliance repair.  I am passionate about growing a garden (of food to EAT) from seeds you planted to seedlings you grew to plants you transplanted. I am passionate about not letting that effort and those crops go to waste, so I can, freeze, dry and share with friends.

I am passionate about knowing my food, calling it by name, loving it, raising it up and processing it by my own hand. And I guess I am also passionate about sharing these passions. What about you?