Friday, April 1, 2011

The Yend* ...

In poetry, personification is the technique wherein the poet attributes some human characteristic to something in the natural world. It's April 1, recognized here in the US as "April Fool's Day," and if I wanted to engage in personification, I might say that Mother Nature was making the fool of us here in the northeast. It's snowing right now, but when I looked at my flower bed just two days ago, I could see the irises just starting to peek out. The trees are budding, and we're busily boiling sap for our years' supply.

And it's been a very good sap season so far. In fact, we're in glut, which was not the case last year. We're in glut, and we're struggling to keep up with the abundance that is being provided us ... but we have to. We have to use it all, with thanks for the bounty, because next year might be like last year was. When one lives seasonally, it's with the understanding that sometimes we have, and sometimes we don't, and the key is learning to accept the gifts as they arrive, and not just when it's convenient for us. Nature may not be so generous next time, especially if we treat Her like a horse and look into her mouth.

I could be disappointed that it's snowing today. Or I could enjoy how beautiful it is ... and later, when it slows a bit, I could go outside and light up the fire under the sap boiling pan, boil it down to almost syrup, and then drizzle it on the fresh, newly fallen "clean" snow and for the first time, have snow candy. Usually, when we're boiling, the snow is mostly gone, or just dirty. I've been given this gift of clean, white snow, and for that I am thankful.

The last twenty-one (well, twenty-two) posts have been a lot of fun to do, and if you've been following along, then you've been given a preview of what my book is about. Like my last twenty-one (or twenty-two) posts, the book draws on the idea that we know something is going to happen in twenty-one days that will dramatically change our lives. The event, and we never know what it is, will strip away all of our little conveniences and leave us vulnerable ... unless we prepare. Like Noah, building the Ark, the book challenges us to think beyond the obvious ... to hop right outside of that box and imagine what's possible, with a little imagination, maybe a bit of research, maybe some stocking of supplies.

And no, I don't believe we can prepare for every imagined possible future, but we can do some things that would be appropriate no matter what. We can think about our shelter needs, for instance, remembering that one can live without food for weeks, without water for days, but only for a few hours when exposed to the elements. The bottom line is that we begin to focus on needs, and not wants - figure out what do we really NEED, and not just what we think we need because our society tells us it's so.

My favorite part of the last month has been the comments. Indeed, it was because of comments over the past four years that the book was born at all. Kate, from Living the Frugal Life, coined the term "Thrivalist" in the comments section of my blog a couple of years ago, and her witticism has now become part of my book title. *Thanks, Kate* :).

But also it was often nay-saying responses to my insistence that we "can do" whatever it is we need to do. I could hear the fear and desparation in the voices, and I wrote my book, and continue to write this blog, because we don't have to be afraid. The book is about empowering us, as individuals.

*WE* can be in control.

But what *WE* can not do is to wait for someone to come along and solve the problem for us. And we also can not be paralyzed into inaction by our concern that we can not solve all of the problems of the world. One day, when my children were very young, and we already knew we were going to homeschool, I started to think of all of the things that I know, all of the lessons that I had learned from the hundreds of teachers that I have been privileged to know, and suddenly, I was completely overwhelmed. How_could_*I*_do it all?? The answer came and said, "How could I *not* at least try to do some?"

And that is how I approach moving toward self-sufficiency. How can *I* not do something for myself, even if I can't imagine how I could do it all?

I can only change myself, but in changing myself, eventually I can change the world.

I believe that, and I believe it is true of all of us.

I'm not going to develop a power generation system that can power all of Portland, Maine, but I could have a small system that would give "me" enough power for a few laptop computers, the freezer, and if I'm very lucky, my washing machine. I don't reckon I need much more than those few things. Not really.

I'm not going to feed the world, but if I can feed my family, that's five fewer people the world's farmers have to worry about, which leaves more food for other people, and, perhaps, I can raise a bit extra to share with my neighbors, which leaves that much more for others.

We don't have to do it all alone, but we do have to do as much as we all can, individually, start small and work our way outward.

I'm so impressed with all of you, because you're doing so much more than you give yourselves credit for doing, and I know that most of what I say could be described as "preaching to the choir." I learn from you, too, and I'm so grateful that you found this blog and make it a part of your day to read and comment.

The last twenty-one (or two ;) posts have been a snippet of what I cover in my book. I go into a lot more detail in the book than I did in each blog post (and I don't give stuff away at the end of each chapter) with a lot more ideas, a few recipes, and some great resources for more information.

If you are interested in a copy of my book, please leave a comment.

I will announce the recipient on April 8 - a week from today.

*I have been blessed with very talented and creative children. When my youngest was very small, she loved telling stories. When she finished her (often very long and convoluted) tale, she would say, very emphatically, "The ... Yend!" It's become one of those endearing traditions in our family ;).


  1. Woot! I'd love a copy of your book! Just think, I could show off to all my friends, and say "I 'knew' her when..."

  2. I, too, would love a copy of your book - but if I don't win it, I'm gonna buy it ~grins~

  3. Me too! I've already told my little sister about your book. If I don't win I'll probably buy and then send it to her. Hee hee, hope that's OK!

  4. I am sad the yend in here! but I would love a chance to win a copy of the book and keep the story going! I once read "We can still change the world...we just need to make the world smaller"...that is what I try to do in preparing.

  5. I love the comfortable way you write. It's like sitting down in your favorite chair with a homemade blanket and opening your mind to the possibilities. In starting my life over (and you know the why's and how's) I find peace and creativity in each day. I strive to see a world off grid and free of the constraints of power companies and mass merchandising. I have gone from one who "craves" all the little niceities to one of necessity. I can't wait to have warm temperatures again so I can dry laundry out on the line, start hand tilling the gardens and weeding out the old growth of last year. I'd love a copy of your book. More inspiriation and confirmation that it can be done. Thank you for writing from the heart!

  6. It was a great series. I would love your book as I need the hubby to read it! :)

  7. Count me in! I'll stick around in blog-land too. :-)

  8. It was a great series of post Wendy, I'm sorry to see it come to the yend. Please put my name in the running for a copy of your book though so i can get some more info :)

  9. Wendy, you write in such an approachable, comfortable way. Not preachy or threatening. Very inspirational! I would LOVE a copy of your read, and then share. :)

  10. Great series, Wendy. Nice work! These quotes from your post resonated particularly strongly with me:

    "I'm not going to feed the world, but if I can feed my family, that's five fewer people the world's farmers have to worry about, which leaves more food for other people, and, perhaps, I can raise a bit extra to share with my neighbors, which leaves that much more for others."

    "We don't have to do it all alone, but we do have to do as much as we all can, individually, start small and work our way outward."

    Well said!

  11. I have really enjoyed reading all the posts in your 21 post series, and it makes me interested to read your book. I'm glad I discovered your blog and look forward to what you have next!

  12. I would love a copy of your book! I just recently found your blog, but it's awesome! Keep up all of your great work!

  13. ...Or is it just the beginning? ;)
    I always enjoy reading your posts, from Hubbard squash vines to dance costumes. It's like talking with someone I've known in person. Please enter me in the drawing for your book, too!

  14. Either way, I can't wait for the book to come out.

  15. I'd love a copy of your book - I just found your blog yesterday, and read all of the 21 posts in one sitting, and now I'm chomping at the bit to really get to work on implementing some of them. Thanks for the inspiration!

  16. Put me in the hat for your book. I don't know how I have missed the pas couple of post. Been working to turn the dirt in the yard and planting some seed indoors and oh I read Alas, Babylon. That's what happened. I got so caught up in that book I used my blog time to read the book.

  17. But what *WE* can not do is to wait for someone to come along and solve the problem for us.

    Amen. Or worse yet, stand around going, "We're ****ed. Yup. We're ****ed alright. Six months, maybe. Here's a link showing just how bad we're ****ed." What's the point of that? Either you can do nothing, in which case you might as well enjoy what time you have left — or you do what you can to mitigate the problem in your own little corner.

    Toss my name in the hat, and keep talking solutions!

  18. Very interested in a copy of your book, Wendy!

    :) Robbyn