She cut her long hair
Wet strands fell to the floor
After they dried she gathered up the auburn tresses
unceremoniously dumped them in the garbage.
She stuck her tongue out at her reflection in the mirror
Turned on her heels
And fled the bathroom
With its hair dryer, hair curlers, curling iron, and hair brush ~
All she needed was a comb now.
“The trouble with simple living is that, though it can be joyful,
rich, and creative, it isn’t simple.” – Doris Janzen Longacre
I understand those of you who love to garden. You love to let the dark earth sift between your fingers and inhale the richness of your endeavours. I understand the desire to watch something grow from a seed to fruition—be it carrots or peas or onions or something more exotic. I understand the satisfaction of placing tiny little tomato plants into the soil and dreaming of toasted tomato sandwiches, and salads with olives and cheese, or just a slice sprinkled with a little salt and pepper. I do….I understand.
I come from a family who tilled the soil—both of my parents came from farm families—though when my father and his brother, my Uncle Louis were asked by my grandfather if they wanted to continue the family tradition, the reply was a hearty “Hell, NO!” (All three were musicians, both at heart and in practice, and played at local dances). My mother more fondly remembered her days on the farm and had a huge garden in our backyard when I was growing up. She had the proverbial green thumb which she passed onto my siblings. I must have been hiding behind the door, as they say, when the gift of gardening was given out. I am proud when I can keep a house plant alive for more than a month, and am quite happy mothering dandelions as they seem to need little encouragement.
That said, I too have had a garden off and on for years—and for the past five or so my eldest son (with a lot of help from his girlfriend, and a little from me) has taken great interest in planting a garden consisting of a lot of varieties of hot peppers, that he likes to dice up and put on all manner of food. But he makes some concessions for me and plants other things too. This year we will be planting about five varieties of peppers (yes we got some mild ones for me), four types of tomatoes, lettuce, peas, Swiss chard and onions. I snuck in a pack of seeds for ornamental gourds, and we are going to try our hand at growing kale this year, as it is, according to the website MindBodyGreen, the “queen of greens”.
As the years have gone by, we seem to be getting this gardening thing under our belts. Last year the garden was a sight to behold—it was kept weeded and watered and produced lots of peppers and tomatoes and salad fixings for the whole summer. I am particularly fond of a variety of yellow tomatoes that we have had some luck with, and they look quite fancy when arranged with slices of the regular red. Add some mozzarella cheese or feta and I have died and gone to heaven.
I remember reading some articles about twenty or so years ago about returning to the land, to the simple life, to our roots. Now technically my deeper roots are in farming though my parents did not practice the art once they married. But if my little taste of gardening has taught me anything, it has taught me that returning to the land is not a simple quest. Merely taking care of a small plot is a lot of work—the earth needs to be tilled no matter what its size before one can plant. And it needs to be nourished. And then the seeds need to be planted and the plants set. And depending on the weather, it needs to be watered. And babied. And weeded. The harvest is of course the reward. But it is not simple. It takes time, and care, and work.
A garden is a good teacher. But “keeping a garden” is also an exercise in optimism. If we did not believe that the work that goes into a garden will produce then why would we bother? We have faith that something will come of our labour. And that is why I understand those of you who love to garden. I am more than a bystander when it comes to our garden, but I am not the one dedicated to make it work. I love to see it newly planted; I love to see the plants grow and produce; and, I love to eat the harvest. But left to my own devices I am pretty sure my garden would be “hot mess”. Thank goodness the trait of the green thumb lives on in my son. I do love me a good garden tomato.
This is an edited version of my weekly newspaper column–again it is locally based–but has some food for thought on a wider basis too:
“Food has the ability to bring people together …” – The Stop
Sweet potatoes, garlic and herb bread, treats for my cat, natural bug repellent, grapefruit and mint soap, blackberry jam, a beautiful bunch of flowers for $5, asparagus, Lebanese garlic spread, some meatwiches (yes I made this up but I do not know what else to call them—they consisted of a lovely meat mixture ensconced in bread), and some radish sprouts. Those are the treasures I gleaned from Saturday’s Farmers Market in our fair town of Kingsville.
I love the idea of a Farmers Market. But more than the idea, I love going to farmers markets. I am so happy that we have one in the heart of town from now until October. The offerings thus far are abundant, and I am sure it is going to grow. I did not hit all of the stands that were set up, more than a dozen on its first venture out of the gate—but the ones I did hit gave me the feeling (and products) I wanted from the market. A feeling of a community coming together to offer not only quality goods but camaraderie—a sense of “we are all in this together”.
The day dawned wet and cool (some might say cold), the grass was wet, but the vendors were there with their game faces on. Every vendor I stopped to talk to was beyond friendly, and those who had products which needed a bit of explanation provided it not in a “I want to sell it to you no matter what” kind of way, but in a lovely conversational way that made me want to buy and not back away.
Farmers Markets have been around for almost 10,000 years according to a web site called coincidentally enough Farmers Markets. Apparently they originated in Turkey and the Middle East and were born from the fact that farm families found they were producing more than they needed for survival so they offered their wares in a farmers market as a way to sell their excess—meeting the needs of local villagers and finding another source of income.
Farmers Markets, so says the article are a “wholly traditional way of selling agricultural and home manufactured products” and were once “integral to society and a part of everyday life” but saw a decline due to “urbanism and intensive farming….the advent of supermarkets and hypermarkets….” and the fact that people could buy pre-packaged food without worrying about seasonality. The article says that people “lost interest in food in general.”
That interest has been reignited—people are again interested in buying their food a little closer to the source, and what better way to do it than by visiting local Farmers Markets? I give the Food Channel some of the kudos for renewing our interest in fresh locally grown produce and to Jamie Oliver, English chef extraordinaire in particular.
According to Nick Saul and Andrea Curtis in “The Stop”, a book about how good food transformed a community (in Toronto) and inspired a movement: “food has the ability to bring people together”. Attending the weekly Farmers Market is not only satisfying in what you come away with to nourish your body; it nourishes the soul of our community. It brings us together as one, and fosters kinship, unity and co-operative spirit, from the group that has come together under the umbrella of the Kingsville Farmers Market to those of us who visit.
Thank you to those who had the foresight and gumption to organize this market. I, for one, will be a regular visitor—not just for the fresh food and imaginative products, but for that unseen yet precious commodity: community.
I find all sorts of wonderful things on facebook. Here are three:
2. “The world needs more Mayberry and less Honey Boo Boo.”
3. “On particularly rough days when I’m sure I can’t possibly endure, I like to remind myself that my track record for getting through bad days so far is 100%…and that is pretty good.”
Do both! I am reblogging this so I have it at my fingertips–
A 2012 share titled “Do What You Love” garnered more likes (393) and more views (8,396) than any other post on this blog. My thinking has evolved (you were naive!) since that time with a subsequent share titled: Do What You Love? Wrong! and this NY Times article by Professor Gordon Marino titled Life Beyond ‘Do What You Love’:
…But is “do what you love” wisdom or malarkey?
…the “do what you love” ethos so ubiquitous in our culture is in fact elitist because it degrades work that is not done from love. It also ignores the idea that work itself possesses an inherent value, and most importantly, severs the traditional connection between work, talent and duty.
…My father didn’t do what he loved. He labored at a job he detested so that he could send his children to college. Was he just unenlightened and mistaken…
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It is in the everyday
That we find salvation
The bric-a-brac of routine
The doing of the dishes
Cleaning of our clothes
The foundations upon which our creativity is fostered ~
For who can create when there is nothing to eat on and nothing to wear?
It all comes down to this.
Holy in its sanctity
This is my weekly column and I am just too lazy to change up the local stuff for a wider audience–so bear with me:
“Philip Roth wrote that getting it wrong is what makes us human.”
Celebrating the milestones of our lives is relatively easy. We raise a glass, make a toast, don a graduation gown, drape ourselves in wedding garb, blow out candles, have baby showers, decorate a Christmas tree, hide Easter eggs, devour turkey at Thanksgiving, carve a pumpkin…the list has no end. But Jonathan Goldstein of CBC Radio and National Post fame believes we should start celebrating our blunders instead as they are the things that make up our real milestones and form a life.
I don’t know about you, but I tend to want to bury my blunders, or what Goldstein more elegantly refers to as our “wrong words and gestures”. He lists some of his blunders as wearing “a jean vest over a jean shirt to an engagement party; sitting down in a plate of lasagna at a wake”; and, arguing “vociferously with a girlfriend’s computer engineer brother about how the Internet was a passing fad that would soon go the way of the pet rock.” Who knew that the Internet would have the life span and flexibility of a chia pet (the latest incarnation of which is one of the Duck Dynasty guys–the plant part forming his beard)?
We all have a plethora of blunders in the rucksack we call life. Why, if I counted the number of blunders I have made in this column alone I would need more than all my fingers and toes to tally them—but making mistakes is one of the risk we have to take in this life. Sometimes putting it out there results in a little misspelling (despite spellcheck), misuse, and/or mischaracterization. I still blush at a few of the mistakes I have made, but am not made of stern enough stuff to recount the worst here for you, but I will share a few that are not too ego-deflating:
1. Last week I said that I was at the tale end of a generation when I am really at the “tail” end.
2. Per se is not spelled per say. I wish the friend who pointed that out had pointed it out sooner.
3. Ron Dimenna is not the same person as Ron Colasanti. One is a past councillor from Gosfield South from the days of my more youthful reportage and one is a present day councillor. I believe that I mixed up these two years ago (in the early 80’s, then made the opposite mistake just last year). The mistaken identity crisis did not happen in this column but in a neighbouring article or two under my guise as L.G. Karry.
Those are the three that come most recently to mind, and as milestone blunders they do not appear to be significant (okay mixing up people is kind of serious) but they make one more aware of one’s foibles and though I am positive I will make more blunders in the future they will be more “mindful” blunders. Yes you can lol at this.
I have made many a life blunder that I now wonder if it was not kismet at work. I missed an important job interview in Windsor when I was in university and could be a well-known radio personality now—but that would have meant I would not have moved back to Kingsville, met my husband, had my wonderful sons, and worked at this respected weekly rag. So while it may have been a blunder, all worked out to my advantage in the end. This blunder was a milestone that has marked my life, set my path, but not necessarily in stone–there is still that fork in the road and I do not discount taking the one “less travelled” in the future.
Goldstein quotes Michael Chabon as saying “the blunders are all there on the board, waiting to be made.” Chabon was referring to the challenge that is the game of chess, but Goldstein believes that “he might just as well have been referring to life.” He refers to blunders as “so tantalizing and ripe for the plucking that we cannot resist them.” Sometimes getting it wrong, gaffes and goofs turn out to be life changers. And sometimes they are just embarrassing.