Monday, September 9, 2013

Wealth Not Measured in Dollars

I've just finished this book - Bastard Out of Carolina, by Dorothy Allison (and if you choose to read it, be aware that it is rather disturbing). In the book, the narrator, Ruth Ann, a.k.a. Bone, looks around the Woolworth store and thinks what a lot of junk is on the shelves. She thinks of her Aunt's house, where Bone spent the summer helping her Aunt put up a year's worth of food - tomatoes, blackberries, peaches .... She thinks, "That's something." And the implication is that her aunt, though incredibly money poor, has a wealth that cannot be found on the shelves of the department store.

I was thinking about that scene, that sentiment, this past weekend. Last week, we butchered the four young rabbits who had grown much too big to still be with their mother. We had already decided we were going to make this rabbit sausage - although we substituted our homegrown Shi'take for the porcini mushrooms in the recipe (because we had those, but we didn't have Porcinis ;)).

We were also gifted (in what turned out to be a barter - we dog sat and were given 30 lbs of canning peaches - good deal!) some canning peaches, and so this weekend, we made 11 lbs of sausage and put up 16 pints of canned peaches.

When we start to get mired in worry about the brakes on our fifteen year old Honda with 260,000 miles and the fact that we might really need to decide to be a one-car family, but our other car is a ten year old SUV that's starting to rust underneath and has a myriad of other aches and quirks common to cars that have traveled over a 160,000 miles, I stop and think about those sixteen pints of peaches and that eleven pounds of rabbit sausage ... and the 40 frozen chickens, and the several quart jars of dehydrated greens, and ... and ... and ..., and I realize that we are fortunate. We are incredibly wealthy, and even if we don't always have a dollar every time we want one, we have a lot more of what really matters.

We harvested our first maple sap in 2007. It was boiled to syrup on our gas grill. We've since started boiling our sap over a wood fire, but it was an incredibly empowering to note that we could ... even when most people were telling us that the suburbs is no place for self-sufficiency.



If you're thinking about coming to the Mother Earth News Fair in Seven Springs, PA this year. I'm scheduled to talk about becoming self-sufficient in the suburbs ... with kids on Sunday at 5:00 :). If you go, please be sure to stop by and say hello.

And Deus Ex Machina and I will be talking about lessons we learned while foraging the suburbs.

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