I enjoyed having a focus this year.
What about next year?
I feel some anxiety about feeling over-scheduled, over busy, and disconnected.
On the almost eve of our eldest leaving for a month to camp, I realize that I will miss him a lot. And he will miss us. He says so, and he is weepy about it a little. This year, I feel we have reattached.
I'm reading books I want to mention:
1.) Not Buying It--My Year Without Shopping, by Judith Levine. She stops consuming things. She makes food, checks books out from the library, crafts her gifts, repairs the rips, and finds free entertainment. She discovers she has less, but feels more prosperous. Like an addiction she breaks, she stops wanting things so much. Her identity shifts. She becomes more mindful and thoughtful. And saves some money. There is also an interesting discussion of what was "essential" for her. She needed coffee. Her husband stocked up on wine ahead of time. What are my essentials? What are yours?
2.) Folks, This Ain't Normal, by Joel Salatin
He is the patriarch of Polyface Farms, in Virginia. Featured in the movie Food, Inc.
His farming practices are considered revolutionary, but really they're just traditional. Practices he says are being replaces (ineffectively) by factory farming. It's pretty political, so far. And I find myself challenged by some of his ideas. He makes me feel a little uninformed about common sense stuff, and he has some rancor about liberal ideology. I'm quite charmed by his parenting stories-- particularly about teenagers. He believes they are underutilized, and not allowed to make real contribution to family and society (despite boundless energy). They become frustrated. Going from extracurricular to extracurricular is not real, or satisfying, he thinks. But starting a business, cutting wood, working the soils, hunting for food, acquiring real life skills (and taking real life risks) is satisfying.
He says it better.
I also still love the idea of multigenerational family living, and he has that.
It inspires me to greater stewardship of our land here. And I feel lucky to feel connected to place. I have fallen in love with this place.
3.) Milking the Moon, by Eugene Walter.
This fellow grew up in my hometown (Mobile, AL) in the 1920s. This is the story of his life, told in his voice, through interviews. He was an eccentric, a traveler, an imp.
Here is a snippet. (Imagine it all spoken in an elegant Southern accent.)
"My grandfather and grandmother were passionate gourmets, being European, and coming out of small town families who spent 2.5 hours at the table for each meal, between wine, food and conversation. If you want to be a good cook, you have to be a good gardener; it all works together. My grandfather would pick the salad two minutes before it was going to be washed and dressed for the table. If we were going to have corn on the cob for lunch, my grandfather would go out in the garden, and my grandmother would put the water on to boil. When she saw bubbles forming on the bottom of the pot she would go to the window and say "Now."
I never heard "We don't have anything for supper." There was always something, and plenty of it, because there was a garden. And there was a pantry with bottles of preserves, and big jars of rice, and grits, and flour, and brown sugar. And there was this sense of household."
(Joel Salatin would have liked Eugene Walter.)
It's been a sweet year, and I'm looking forward to what's next.