We hear them all the time now. Resilience, sustainability, Transition Town, power down, energy depletion, permaculture, locally grown, organic, free range. It’s like there’s this secret language that a particular group of people use to show they are part of an exclusive club. People who don’t use them or, even worse, use them wrong, aren’t one of “us”.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the Great Depression lately. I’m guessing that the average person in 1929 never used one of those buzz words. That didn’t stop them, however, from living each of those principles. Many poor people around the world live them every day, not by intention but out of necessity. Granted, food, unless it’s home-grown, is a problem as the cheapest food is often the worst food available. Actually, that isn’t strictly true. Dried beans and rice, bulk, in-season vegetables and fruit and all food made from scratch are cheaper than junk food but there are a lot of people who don’t how to prepare those things.
I’m not sure where I’m going with this train of thought. I spent yesterday canning pickled beets. It was a lot of work from start to finish. The raised bed needed to be built and the soil amended with some compost we had spent two years making. The the seeds were planted. We pulled weeds, thinned the seedlings and ate the thinnings as cooked greens. During a dry spell, I hauled water out to the bed. Yesterday, I pulled the beets, cleaned them well, boiled them, peeled them, sliced them, added vinegar, sugar and spices and canned the whole mess. I bought the sugar, the vinegar and the spices from our bulk food co-op. I used the Tattler lids. All of this was for two months of pickled beets. I used the beet juice to make wine too but that’s another posting. You can call it resilience if you like but mostly I was just calling it work by the end of the day. If I was really interested in sustainability, I would have just stuck the beets in the root cellar and called it a day.
Like I said, I’m not sure where this is going. I guess I’m concerned that what I consider to be the important and necessary movement in modern history, the move toward better, smaller, healthier, lower energy lives, is at risk of becoming a fad. People try it, find it’s a lot of work and move on to the next fad. I’m also concerned that we leave a lot of people out, poor people in particular, forgetting that they have a whole lot to teach us about living with less. I remember when I was kid, visiting a little girl down the street. Her family was even poorer than ours, which was saying something. She made us tea and used one tea bag for both of us. I thought that was amazing and really demonstrated just how poor they were. Now I often use tea bags twice. I just let it steep longer the second time.
The news is not getting any better. Our maple trees look terrible and have no color. Our song bird population has seriously declined. The weather is more unpredictable and far more damaging to our crops than I remember. Our energy supply is hostage to geo-politics. Our food supply at risk from pests that are quickly learning to out manuever our attempts to control them. We don’t have time for “us” and “them”. We don’t have time for fads and buzz words. The real work starts where you are with what you have. I have begun my seed collection for spring. I sourced the Oregon Sweet Meat Squash I want. I am looking at the Fedco tree catalog. I’m planning the beds and looking at where I can put another strawberry patch. You can call it resilience if you like. I’m just planning on being money poor and food rich.