Home Sweet Homestead

This weekend was the best I’ve had in months except for the previous weekend which I spent with a friend in the Redwoods helping her clear land during the day, and playing violin and piano together throughout the dark evening. Most of you who know me well, or all 20 of you who read my blog posts, know I’m pretty much a “midwest farmer’s daughter California girl.” Yep, if the Beach Boys had known about me, they would have changed the song. I’d rather be gardening than raving. I’d rather be playing my violin alone in my living room than chatting up 20 new people I’ll probably never see again at a bar. I’d much rather be canning than shopping. In fact, I’d rather eat fried worms than shop. Just the other night, returning from a rare evening out with “the girls” shouting at each other over the din of Friday night at the hippest place in town, I was reminded of what I value. Having been with the young cool crowd, I felt under-dressed and old but when I returned home, I found deep satisfaction in the fact that there was an emergency animal issue awaiting my attention. Yep, another skunk incident. (Note to self: Warn new room mates of the dangers of letting the dog out on the farm after dark.) From looking into the dark sad eyes of a friend who can’t connect to watching my own child melt down after an evening playing Wii at a sleepover, I’m continually reminded of how far we’ve come from our true nature as humans and our need for connection to the earth we come from, that sustains us, and to which we return.

More and more I find my sensibilities aligning to a term I’ve heard in the back ground but have just figured out what it means. For you hipsters, I know you’ve got it, it’s “Urban Homesteading.” For those of you really homesteading (you know who you are Troy), I’ll take all the advice I can get. For those of you scratching your heads reading this on your iPhone heading out of Target, Urban Homesteading means living off the grid on the grid. Or, living as simply, frugally, and environmentally healthy as I possibly can.

To be honest, I can’t really say I’m over-achieving in this area but I’m working on it. While I write this using PG&E power, the dishwasher whines in the background. The compost pile aka Mary’s Might Muck, could support the neighborhood, the brussels sprouts are planted, arugula and romaine grace my table nightly, and the biodegradable hot tub water is regularly drained into the holding tank for irrigation. I’ve done nothing in terms of “renovations” to my 40+ year old home even though I continually get asked by my friends “so when are you going to do up your kitchen?” But I could do more. I want to take the whole neighborhood off the grid. I think I could convince a few of the folks to share garden plans, solar panels, and grey water systems. But that will probably have to wait another few years until the situation around here gets really dire. For now, this Easter Sunday if you’re in town you can join my mom, my kids, and I for our Spring garden planting. Forget the fake pink grass and chocolate rabbits. We’re celebrating Spring the way the homesteaders did by putting our soon-to-be food into the ground.

While we wait for the garden to deliver it’s bounty, we’ll out with the foragers (there’s a festival in the Mission on the 23rd), creating more and more space in my garden to plant food, and working on ways to get my community involved in food swapping and sharing the garden chores. I’m waging a campaign to get the neighborhood kids off the Wii and out into the garden. “Device free summer” is my mantra. Let’s see if I can make it stick.

4 thoughts on “Home Sweet Homestead

  1. Jolie Runyan Finkbiner

    You inspire me to get out there and dig around in my yard… I’m so NOT “crunchy” but open to new ideas and get a great deal of pleasure eating food that I have grown.
    Love reading you too.

  2. Lexi

    Now there are 21 reading your posts. I almost wish I wasn’t going to be in Yosemite because I’ll miss the Spring planting – but I’ll put on my gardening gloves and join you in some of the inevitable Spring weeding.

  3. Gaye

    LOVE this, Mary! I’ve been “off the grid” of Facebook and links and email for a couple weeks, nose to grind, but always always love reading you and this sounds great. Spring is springing here, too, and lovely to get in the dirt and walk in the woods…will be thinking of you all planting this coming w/end. We’ll put our herb and tomato garden in around Mother’s Day w/end.

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