Friday, January 20, 2012

Re-inventing the wheel

I have wanted to rant about this phenomenon for a while, it comes up so often. Is it a generational thing, or a North American thing? That's the trouble with being an immigrant, you never know if something you observe that differs from your early years is due to a change in time or a change in place. 

I had the advantage of growing up in a time and place where frugality was the norm. 
This naturally segued into the back-to-the-land life that we ended up in. We have been less successful at homesteading than I would have wished, but that is another topic. Overall, it has been a good life in rural paradise, and my regrets are too few to mention.

Anyway, about the title of this rant. 

It goes more or less like this. Well-meaning person of the green persuasion rediscovers an older way of living. Activities like riding a bike, growing turnips, canning peaches, repairing some clothes before throwing them out, you get the drift.

Great! I am all in favor. But do they have to make such a fuss about it? 

When I was nineteen I figured out that I would rather be rich in time than in money, and that the way to live on less was to live simply and do as much for oneself as possible. Once we had children one of us was always home. This might have been different if we had had careers, instead of jobs, but that is once again another topic. I get exhausted just thinking about the lifestyle of the two-worker family with small children.

Now there is a whole movement, complete with magazine articles and book deal, called Radical Homemakers.

Just now the surf tossed up yet another blog, about a family discovering that they spend less and feel better when they eat real food instead of junk. (the link expired) REALLY? What a concept!

I sincerely wish this family and the Radical Home makers well. But the way they go on, you'd think nobody had ever grown a carrot or cooked a meal from scratch before.


Jacqui Binford-Bell said...

There was a huge return to the land movement after WWII. I think there was even a book about surviving on an acre of land (obviously the east or midwest because you cannot do this in the SW). My father the returning pilot read it.

We ended up on 2 acres of land (if you can survive on one surely you can be rich on two). Half was a truck garden as the were called. We raised chickens and eggs which I an my toddler brother were drafted into. I hate roosters to this day, but that is another story. And Dad raised and trained hunting dogs. Rabbits, squirrels, pheasants and grouse were staples in our family. As was the wild asparagus, and various other found fruits and veggies.

And so there we were with the house half finished when Korea caused my reservist pilot father to go once again off to war.

Do not talk to me of Utopia but being able to live at least to some degree off my own efforts and tending of the land still appeals to me. I bounce from urban to rural a lot but am happy to find myself rural at this time.

If the world falls apart - and it seems to be heading that way - it will be safer in the country. People that write of finding Utopia should realize they are not the first to go looking nor are they the first to believe they found it. Just ask Plato.

Ien van Houten said...

Great story. I believe the book was five acres and independence? But there was also one called the "Have More" book, it talked a lot about food gardening in suburbia, an hour away from the day job. It was published in 1946, dusted off in the early seventies, and now we are seeing another wave.