Our home is twenty-six kilometers from the nearest small town of 2000 people; our nearest neighbour is one and a half miles away. It is on a land trust, the vision of which was a working collective some members thought would be dependent upon the produce of the land. (Never part of my vision, I planned to work in Wynyard as a physician.)
Times changed, the other couple moved away, their children really required on a more intellectually challenging academic setting in the city but Bill and I carried on. We’d fallen in love with the site in 1969 and were determined to live there, even without close neighbours. We’re still in love with the site and the home we’ve been privileged to plunk down here but nearer neighbours would be nice. Elizabeth, our daughter, and her partner, Erin, are in the process of purchasing the three season house but this is pretty ambitious for them – both of them need a certain population density for their talents.
Canadian Yearly Meeting’s Bible study on Simplicity was very thought-provoking. Is this home simple-living?
The chickens provide us with eggs – in return, we feed them oats, purchased feed that looks like kitty litter, and kitchen scraps. There are too many chickens to overwinter in the coop so we will have to make a decision. The first step is to see who is laying; count the eggs daily – there can be up to ten brown eggs, seven white eggs, two blue eggs and one green egg. Maj lays the green egg and she is very interested in “setting” these days – she figures she has laid enough eggs and she will “sit” on them until they hatch. Sorry, Maj, wrong time of the year for chicks, we'll take those eggs right out from under you!
The garden is overrun with “friendly weeds” – dill, coriander, calendula, poppies and chervil. In fact, the potatoes, corn, onions and carrots are practically choked. The raspberries need picking – always a pleasure, I usually do it when I want to eat them as well. Dealing with gooseberries is an urgent matter – it is one of two jams that I like, the other is strawberry. (And, of course, marmalade – the kind that Brenna and I and a host of others make.)
The door of the chicken coop – intended to last the time that we were away – barely lasted the week, the temporary hinges more temporary that I had expected. Coop also needs cleaning. Chicken fence could be moved so that the “pasture” was more friendly.
The tasks that I would like to outsource (in other words, pay someone to do) are: cutting down the trees that are encroaching upon our house, clearing the weeds in the paving at the front of the house and shingling the roof of the greenhouse. (This spring I came to the realization that I am afraid to climb up there. The slope is just enough to disturb my sense of security.) And then there is the guy who is supposed to be fixing our well – excuses, excuses – maybe time to find someone else.
Indoors the piano needs tuning and the cracks in the living room needs plastering followed by painting.
Making things simpler includes de-cluttering one’s brain. If we can really put teachings of the Spirit into action, it means really living the Biblical phrase “take no thought for the morrow”. This doesn’t mean, don’t plan anything; it means don’t worry over it – it also means be ready to always change as “moved” by the Spirit.
Making things simpler means disposing of things not useful, things not used, and this includes all the things that we keep around ourselves for the “just in case, I ever want to (insert whatever activity eg. SCUBA) again. I think that it means living the uncluttered life. It means disposing of the cumber. I don’t think that means that we become obsessively tidy – besides disposal of the physical items, it could also mean “disposal” of the attachment to the items.
Making things simpler may also mean giving up some cherished beliefs of right and wrong, of “right” or “wrong” ways to do the task, of “right” and wrong directions to travel. It means contributing to the greater good, the commons of the world by our ethics, morals and philosophy.
We should all be living more simply; in fact, it is the only way in which the human race will survive. We must have fewer children, and less possessions. We must learn to contribute less CO2 to the atmosphere and poisons to the water. Not just a good idea – this is a “must”. This is not an onerous task – the corporate capitalist economy makes it sound as though everyone must give up all their pleasures when what they really mean is that the richest 1% is going to have to give up luxuries. Most of the rest of us already fail to contribute much to the global climate chaos.
“In Nature’s economy, the currency is not money, it is life.” Vandana Shiva