The last day of November was warm with a brisk wind to scurry about the colorful leaves. I walked the streets in Clayton to do some banking and grab a bite to eat on my lunch hour. The wind whipped from the west and changed directions several times that hour. The tell-tale sign of changing seasons. A mild autumn is quickly going into winter-like weather this week. The weekend forecast includes snow flakes, and colder than normal temperatures next week. “Each year is a parable begun in stillness, and chill, of bare ground warmed with spring life returning, then bursting, buzzing, peaking in summer, and issuing a final flare in autumn, to subside in another winter’s seeming nullity,” author Stephanie Mills writes in her book Epicurean Simplicity.
Preparations for the winter season may not be a necessary stack of firewood in my suburban lifestyle. I remember as a child the excitement of my family’s annual New Year’s Eve stay at the one-room cabin my father built on the family farm in Franklin County, Missouri. The simple shingle covered dwelling probably no bigger that 500 square-feet had no bathroom or electricity, but a wood stove for its heat source. My father and Grandpa would cut down old trees on the 100+ -acre farm and split wood throughout the autumn season in preparation for deer hunting trips and these winter weekend visits to the family farm. My current preparations include sweaters and boots being pulled from the depths of the closets as well as my epie pin and antihistamine stowed in my purse for the next 4 months. An allergy to cold air and water is not easy, but is not the worst a person would have to deal with. Thank goodness for gas heat.
And now I focus on my own heart matters for today. Simplicity. “Try to see the beauty in your own backyard to notice the miracles of everyday life,” religious leader Gloria Gaither says. I would say that is great advice. Perennial thoughts and ways, appreciating what you have now, and making do. Simple, thankful, authentic, resourceful. I am intrigued by the choice of voluntary simplicity as I further my research for an enrichment class to teach at my work place. There are authors, activists, and societies devoted to this way of thinking and lifestyle. Choices made such as local community versus global; homegrown versus mass produced; renovate or upcycle versus disgard; a 3-generation home versus having separate homes; public transportation, carpooling, or riding a bicycle versus commuting to work with one’s own vehicle everyday; hand-crafted versus manufacturer made; purchase local versus big brand, slow food versus fast food, and the list goes on. As author and ecological activist Stephanie Mills states“bigger has not turned out to be better.” I like the change back to some old ways and traditions. What does simplicity mean to you? How have you made simplicity a lifestyle choice? I would love to hear.
So much of our thinking and planning seems to align to conventional practices. This is in every area of our lives, relationships, career paths, foods we eat, medicines we take, what we spend time with or on, the house we live in, so on and so on. Break throughs in sciences seem to tell us that some old practices have been the best practices all along. For instance, the present interstate highway system we have has caused major traffic congestion in the cities, and kept local commerce from growing. The lecture I attended at Washington University last week where John Norquist gave the alternative. Tear down some of those interstates in the city. Allow secondary arteries, the urban streets to be available for travelers to slow down and visit the city, create more jobs, circulate more commerce, allow pride in the citizens to show off their cultures. Maybe more walking and biking will be encouraged with sidewalk systems. Hooray for out-of-the box thinkers! St. Louis City and County are looking into this option. What do Milwaukee citizens think about the similar project that took place in their city?
Then there is the Slow Food movement. (There is that word “slow” again.) This started in Europe, Rome, Italy to be exact as a direct statement to the fast food construction plans for a McDonald’s back in 1986. According to founder and president Carlo Petrini, “everyone has the right to good, clean, and fair food”. That means quality, flavorful food, it is natural form, and produced and tranported in an ethical manner at a fair price. A person who eats locally, is called a locavore. Slow Food includes local food. (There is that word “local” once again.) Foods grown, produced, and consumed on a local level will support local folks, right? So this is where Deanna Greens And Garden Art resides. Local!!! I cannot wait to get those beds raised and plant some organic seeds for herbs and veggies. We hope to sell more seedlings to local farmers, and herbs to local farmer’s market folks next spring. And Dean & I will consume lots of our own homegrown veggies. Veggies are the alternative to pre-packaged, processed grain products. Herbs are the alternative to salt and synthetic chemicals the food label lists. Check out the book Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis from your local library and see what today’s wheat and corn are doing to our bodies. Or Dr. Davis has his own blog: www.wheatbellyblog.com. An eye opener. Yes, an alternative diet, yet what we ate like before WWII. Old practices return.
Dean and I personally shop local as well. 95% of our Christmas gifts are bought locally. Wine from Chandler Hill Vineyards and foods & crafts from local artisans. I hope you supported Local Saturday in your community a couple of weeks ago. Last weekend we slowed our pace down, savored a local beer and satisfied our palettes while listening to local music at our neighborhood joint, the St. Charles Coffee House. www.saintcharlescoffeehouse.com. What is your favorite local eatery? In our travels, Dean & I look for those local joints, and we may visit yours!