Sunday, January 27, 2008

Living With The Seasons

Winter has been really different for me this year. Really it is the culmination of changes that I have made this year. I have become a lot more conscious about the footprint I am leaving on this earth and the cost of our unconscious consumption. Listening to David Suzuki's talk, reading "The Humanure Handbook", "Living the Good Life" by Linda Cockburn and Barbara Kingsolver's "Animal Vegetable Miracle", this article and the company of like minded friends has all had an indelible impact. It wasn't a really dramatic, big change, more small, slow, gradual changes. Composting more, flushing less, less garbage because we are using less, more recycling, less consumption, more homemade, less plastic, more awareness.

Probably the biggest impact was reading "Animal Vegetable Miracle". I absolutely adore Barbara Kingsolver - I've read all of her novels and own most of them. I loved the look into her family life. And I loved that indeed, my impression of her from reading her novels was right! She is a kindred spirit! (as Anne would say) I was so inspired by her families efforts to be 'locavores' for a year. Inspired to become more self-sufficient myself. Inspired to eat more seasonally. This winter I have bought hardly any fresh fruit compared with other years - a few boxes of Chinese oranges at Christmas, a few bananas... and that's about it. We are eating our own apples and the fruit I dried and froze during the summer. And no has bleeding gums or other signs of scurvy yet. In fact, we seem to be a healthy lot. I bet my dried plums are a lot better for us than fruit that has travelled thousands of miles to get here, picked long before it was ripe. I have bought fresh veggies about every other week - an occasional dose of broccoli and carrots to go along with the squash from our garden and local farmers that I bought at the farmer's market at the end of the season. It is so much easier, in one sense, to give up trying to eat like it is still summer in December - with leafy salads and lots of fresh fruit. In another sense , it has not been so easy as it has required new recipes and habits. It has been fun learning to use those delicious slow roasted tomatoes from my garden. And every time we eat more of them, I dream about the tomatoes I will plant this year...

And all of that has changed they way I feel about winter, too. I had come to dread winter. The cold. The bundling up. The socks. Cold feet. Cold hands. Ice and snow. Darkness. I hated it, hunkered down and dreamed about spring and summer. But somehow living more in tune with the rhythm of the seasons, has changed all that. I am sure that the chickens in the back yard have helped, too. I am outside at least 4 times everyday feeding them, changing their water, letting them out or closing them in. I am living in the winter in my own yard and it just feels different. It now seems to me kind of like our whole culture fights against the changing of the seasons - like it somehow 'should' be the same all year round - the same food, the same activities, etc. It is amazing how much more enjoyment I am getting out of my life just accepting that this is not so - even when it comes to heating our house. Although we are very grateful to the advent of central heating, we have kept our house much cooler this year and we are looking forward to the heat of summer.

Anyways, all of this thinking and changing has led me to start a new blog called "Living With the Seasons". The goal of this blog is to document a year in the life of me and 2 of my good friends as we strive to live more in tune with nature in the way we live our lives - our activities and what we eat. The plan for the end result is to publish it as a book (through that site that you can convert your blog into a book) that will be both a resource of recipes, knitting and crocheting patterns, green cleaning tips, gardening and a keepsake for ourselves and our children. This will be my first post on that blog.


Laura said...

what site that changes your blog into a book? i've been wanting to do that with my old blog.

sheila said...

Okay, Andrea, I am going to make a concerted effort to read AVM again! It's not like I find it boring or anything, but it just never held my interest. Now, reading about your dried plums, I think "hmm, what a great idea" which makes me think I should give that book another go.

How do you store your fruit leather?

Andrea said...

Hi Sheila,

I don't actually make leather - haven't had much luck with that. I dry lots and lots of fruit. I cut the plums in half, pears in quarters, peaches in 8ths, cherries pitted... I store them in large gallon jars or old peanut butter jars (plastic).