Something came to me again today, as it often does. Since the boys have been back in school, I've not stopped processing food. It's from the time they leave until the time I need to sit in the "commuter" line and pick them up that I don't stop. And it's a lot of work. No really. I think many times that I was born in the wrong time, but perhaps the reason I don't mind doing all this work, that it feels so very familiar to me, is that I identify with it. It provides me with a very authentic life.
From constructing raised beds, to putting up the fence to keep the critters at bay, to shoveling tons of compost and goat manure to fill the beds (these were Music Man's contributions to the garden), to then leveling the beds, planning where to plant things, tending to the seedlings, watering, weeding, weeding, weeding, keeping pests at bay, to the thrill of seeing food develop from the efforts, to tending them more, to the eventual harvest, to then processing it to save for winter, to eating the fruits of all that labor...it is a full time job. I'm ever amazed at the work that goes into feeding my little family unit, it's a tremendous physical and emotional endeavor. This is the first year I set about to put up so much food that we produced from our own hands, the sweat on our own backs and the brows. And it's given me an interesting view of life. One, that despite the work it takes, I want to keep doing it. There are days when I'm kinda done with it, feel like I really don't feel like processing one more canner full of tomatoes. But on those days, I remind myself how great it will taste in the dead of winter when we're not growing things. And all the work I put in now is the short cut to winter meals ahead.
And yes, like 98% of the American people, I could just go to the store and buy it. Seems like an awful lot of work for something that I could get at the store for $20 or so. That's about what today's pumpkins that I processed would cost me in prepared cans right off the shelf. But, see, there's a very important element missing in that purchase. The authenticity of it. I know where every stitch of this food has come from, where it started, how it developed and I've lovingly tended it and processed it and will feed it with that dedication to my loved ones. People who live like I do, and I'm thankful to call some of them friends, understand wholly what I mean by that. Yes, I do it because it's organic this way and I do believe that it's healthier for the planet to not have the pesticides inflicted on every other living thing just so we can grow apples without spots. I also do it to save money, because in the end, I do save some money, though not that significant an amount. I do it to save the environment from trucking all those perishable ingredients on average 1,500 miles to get to our plates. I do it for all these reasons, but I do believe that the main reason I do it is because it feels authentic to me. In fact, I don't think it can get a whole lot more authentic then this.
I find it interesting when others come to my home, see the shelves of very hard earned food accumulating for the winter and say, "Wow, look at all those pickles! Can I have a jar?". I have often given them a jar because they ask me, and I believe in generosity, but I also wonder do they have any concept of what I just gave them? They aren't just pickles. They represent hours and hours of my labor lovingly put in a jar. It isn't like buying those off the shelf at Walmart where they are mass produced without love or care. My fingers touched every slice of those pickles, sterilized every jar, in fact grew them in my own soil. Yes, they are authentic indeed.
We have chickens that we care for so we can have their eggs. I take pride in having them well cared for and happy (now, if they would just stop pecking each other's feathers out, we'd be all set!). I sew and knit things I could easily buy as well, sometimes so much cheaper then I can make them. But when I see the hat on my husband's head that I spent hours not only figuring out how to knit, but then actually knitting, it makes me feel as if I'm taking good care of him, his heart and soul.
I thank all the women before me that sacrificed so much to make careers possible for women in our country, I truly do. I'm so very thankful to have a choice in that matter...or do I? But I also know that I do actually like the domestic life, I enjoy seeing my husband and children well fed, well clothed and cared for. Since stopping working, I'm enjoying it a lot again. I was out of work for 6 years after Maestro was born, then went back for 3 1/2. I worked since I was 12 years old before his birth, so I know what the difference is and I've lived both sides of that equation. Working to earn money to pay other people to do what I could do myself, but need to earn the money to pay for seems wholly unauthentic to me. And in part ridiculous.
The reality makes me sad, that there does not seem to be a place in our world for a woman like me any longer. We made great strides in the last 100 years for women, but drove one like me back to the work place to pay others to do what I want to be doing at home.
Now, we're just expected to do it all.
Authentically yours, ~Peacemom