Yesterday morning, after writing to you all, I went in the kitchen to get the breakfast started and noticed that the room looked a bit messy. I had been cooking a lot and the stove was dirty, the microwave was splattered, the counters cluttered and there were some spills on the cabinet fronts. I did not want to clean. I had plans for the day and spending an hour on cleaning was not one of them. I put on a pot of coffee and while I was waiting, I decided to at least clean the microwave out. It is a quick job really; a scrubby with a bit of soap and elbow grease and it was finished before the coffee was. As long as the soap and the scrubby was out, I figured I might just as well clean the stove too. It’s an easy stove to clean. You just remove the three top grates, scrub up any cooked on mess and wipe it with a dry rag. I poured a cup of coffee and started the water for oatmeal and, while waiting for the water to boil, I wiped up those cabinet spills. That looked so much better, it seemed foolish not to put away the counter clutter and finish the job. In under an hour, I had made breakfast and the kitchen looked neat and welcoming for everyone coming down to eat.

I think there is a preparedness lesson here. Any job that looks overwhelming can be tackled if we break it down into manageable pieces. For me, the toughest part is getting started anyway. The idea of putting away a year’s worth of food and supplies would prevent most of us from buying that first sack of oatmeal but if you can look at it as putting by three days of meals, why that seems doable, doesn’t it. You can’t think of paying down all of your debt today but perhaps you could cut up and cancel that one credit card and commit to paying it off by hosting a tag sale and disposing of some clutter at the same time. Getting rid of the clutter will free up some space and maybe you do have room for a case of peanut butter or tuna after all. I can’t convert all of my family to a preparedness mindset but I can give them Sharon Astyk’s new book, Independence Days, and maybe a canner for Christmas. They can eat a meal here and see that it was all food we grew and perhaps it will plant a seed. Maybe next year they will ask if they could put in a little garden on our land and grow some potatoes or squash to keep in their own basement. Single steps.

The apple picking was a bust yesterday. The tree I had found grew on a steep slope that wasn’t visible from the car and we could only reach a few branches. But Karen and I had a nice walk and found a lovely stand of bittersweet to admire while we watched the river so I couldn’t feel too bad about the apples.  I have lots of fruit but only a few years until Karen will be grown and too busy to spend an hour throwing rocks in the water and talking about life.

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