Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Reducing, consolidating and simplifying our lives

A friend offered me a ride home from work yesterday.

On the front seat of her car were four freshly-picked (straight from the farmer's market) ears of corn. They were a gift for me and my mother to enjoy. We ate them with some meat from a local store last evening for dinner.

She drives a small, fuel efficient car and was combining trips to several stores in the vicinity of where I live in order to reduce, consolidate and simplify her life.

She is an amazing woman - one whom I admire greatly. She is the moderator at The Church in the Highlands in White Plains New York. A moderator is the minister's right hand person. This woman is serious about making a difference in this world. She reduces her carbon footprint, recycles, tends her grandchildren, attends bible study, volunteers in her community and still finds time to bowl with her sweet husband, play bridge with a remarkable group of women and more......and they say retirement is boring.

An article in yesterday's Washington Post spoke of the changing way in which Americans are living their lives to adjust to soaring food and gasoline prices. They are following my friend Irene's lead. They are reducing and simplifying. They are tending gardens at home where previously there were none. They are using farmers' markets - fresh produce arriving in your home within hours of being picked from the farmers' fields. All this supports the local economy - some 65 cents of every dollar spent at a local store stays in the community - not so with those nefarious big box stores. People are watching for sale items on foods and one retired couple is even reverting to their menus from - gasp - their graduate school days - soups, beans and the like. I read of one employee who is brown bagging with peanut butter and jelly.

I grew up in London, England with 7 family members in our home. We took the weekly trip to the grocery store seriously. My sisters and I took turns going to the store. We schlepped groceries for all 7 of us on the bus and when the not always punctual bus did not arrive, we simply walked a few miles up the hill back to our home.

My father was a professional boxer. Years ago, when he had surgery for herniated discs in his back, there was no way he was going to file for disability - he was a very proud man. We grew even more vegetables in our garden, and subsisted on my mother's income as a civil servant (I love that play on words.....) and what we could grow and harvest. It was a valuable lesson.

I am watching and waiting for my little tomato plants on the balcony to grow. They are small but healthy - organic and grown from seeds. If you have a spot to garden, use it - a balcony, container gardening is great! A small yard, a community garden - find some land and till it - put it to use, that is what it is there for.

A canning event is coming up at The Church in the Highlands in White Plains, New York. Watch for details in the newspaper or call the office at 914-949-2023 for more information. Membership in the church is not necessary. We are in this together after all.

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