Friday, March 21, 2008

Stepping back in time

OK, maybe it just seems that way, but lately I've been feeling a strong urge to move back to Mid-Missouri, buy a house (so cheap compared to ANYTHING in the NYC vicinity) and spend my days taking care of a huge vegetable garden, cooking as much from scratch as possible and "simplifying" by relearning how to find joy in the simple things.

I say it's "stepping back in time" because it reminds me of how my maternal grandparents used to live. They would spend a good amount of time tending to their vegetable garden. They also grew grapes and had an apple tree—both of which would find their way into homemade "wine" that I found repulsive. (Unfortunately their supply of basement-fermented alcohol ran dry before I was old enough to be able to appreciate—or not—their efforts.

I remember climbing their apple tree and not wanting to eat the ugly, blemished apples, but not minding the applesauce or dehydrated apple slices. One thing's for sure, there was never a shortage of apples and there always seemed to be baskets of them stashed away in the dark, cool corners of the unfinished side of their basement. I also used to derive such satisfaction from (don't laugh...) "painting" their brick sidewalk with water and an old toothbrush. Now that's simple!

It seems like I'm not the only one that's been yearning for a step away from the excess and back toward the garden. In her article for the New York Times: Cows Grazing in the Rumpus Room, Allison Areiff, points out the many ways that people are making time and space for gardening whether they live in the suburbs or in high-rises. Since the article focused on the design aspects of this topic, I wasn't surprised to see mention of the movement for people to replace their front lawns with either vegetable gardens or less thirsty greenery in an effort to reduce water use. Here a fact she mentions that, if true, is quite disturbing: homeowners apparently use up to 10 times more chemical pesticides per acre on their lawns than farmers use on crops.

Great... Even if I choose to follow natural, organic methods in my future yard and garden, I'll still have to deal with my neighbor's runoff. Lovely... So, on my future-home wish list next to "large backyard with privacy fence," I'm going to add "yard at higher elevation than neighbors' to prevent contamination."


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