Anybody watching my house yesterday would have assumed we bought a cider press for the fun of it. People began rolling in at 3:00. By 4:00, we had so many guests that Bruce had to move his truck so there would be room for everybody to park. I made a huge pot of potato/leek/kale soup. Others brought bread, cheese, pickles, apple butter, preserves and cookies. We brought out all of the mugs and soup bowls, a pile of flat wear and napkins and let everyone eat as they liked. There were rotating groups, with some people washing fruit, some feeding the hopper, some cranking the hopper and some pressing the fruit. Another caught the cider and transferred it to mason jars while others brought the pomace to the pigs or the compost pile. In between, we went to visit the bees, check on my mushroom logs, and generally chit chat and enjoy ourselves. After only two hours we had 13 gallons of cider made almost entirely from gleaned apples. It was quite a feat. Clean-up only took about 20 minutes with everyone pitching in. It was one of the nicest afternoons I have had in a long while. I froze this bunch of cider but I will probably can some. I am not sure of my terms but I think that once it is canned it becomes juice rather than cider. Does anyone know the actual definition?
We spent considerable time discussing housing options. Some of the people in this group have co-housing arrangements and others are considering it. It does seem silly to have these huge houses with only two people in them. We talked about the merits of sharing with family, with friends or with strangers. Bruce and I are having this same talk as we are not getting any younger and will need help if we are to stay in our home until we leave feet first so this was a pretty interesting line of thought.
Sharon Astyk has something she refers to as the theory of “anyway”. Much of what she does as preparation are things she would do anyway, even if peak oil were to be solved tomorrow. I am not as deep a thinker as Sharon. My theory is “for the fun of it”. Even if peak oil were solved tomorrow, much of what I do I would continue to do because I enjoy it. I like to press cider and grow mushrooms and raise bees and forage for edibles. I like to make wine and bake bread and preserve food and shop cooperatively. I get a kick out of reducing my consumption and making my house more energy efficient. Mostly, I enjoy being with like-minded friends and making a community. I prefer the company of people who talk about food and soil and community than the company of someone talking about the latest fashion or the hottest celebrity.
I hope you are all well on the way to being prepared. I do not think things look good on the economic front and it is a sure bet that the cost of energy is going to go through the roof in the next few years. Those who are not ready are going to have a very hard time. But I hope you are having fun too. I hope you can find satisfaction in jobs well done. I do not think the future looks as bleak for everyone as many do although I think it looks bleak for many. But you have the ability to be a model and a beacon for others to follow. If you are doing the work that needs to be done with grace and good humor, your neighbors, family and friends will at least have a picture of another way to live, another option for the future.