Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Simple Living, My Foot

Simple living.  It has sort of a romantic ring to it, doesn't it?  It conjures up images of folks leisurely sitting on porch rocking chairs drinking meadow tea,  sitting down to home cooked meals, watching the birds instead of the television and stopping to smell their homegrown roses.

Well, let's just say it's been quite awhile since I smelled my rosebush.  Simple living is not simple.  It's constant work, particularly this time of year.  Who sweeps that front porch?  Picks, steeps and mixes that meadow tea?  Grows the food, then makes the home cooked meals?  Fills the bird feeders?  Weeds around the rose bush?  Huh?  Huh?  HUH?!

I'm not sure if people think making and preserving your own food falls under the 'simple living' category.  When I think of what I think other people think of as simple living, I imagine they are thinking about a way of life that moves away from convenience, consumerism and the drive to have more, more, more.  If growing and making your own food falls under this umbrella for some, I'd like to sit those folks down and have a little chat.  The idea is simple, sure.  Making it happen?  Not so much.

For example, we were away for three days this past weekend.  In addition to the normal tasks that come along with being away like having to mow the lawn, unpack, and do lots of laundry, we had to water and feed the animals (chickens and a cat), pick the strawberries, pick the garden peas, pick the snow peas, pick the asparagus, pick the sour cherries, gather 3 dozen plus eggs, shell the peas, make dinner (from scratch which included eggs and asparagus), make the next day's breakfast (or get up early the next morning to do it- no thank you), and plant the rest of the sweet potato slips.

It's not just dinner I'm making on a daily basis.  I'm making lunch, breakfast, yogurt, any snacks (they rarely exist around here), as well as shelling, hulling, snapping, pitting, washing (eggs), shucking, blanching, freezing, weeding, picking, and then washing all the dishes it takes to do all those things.

I'm not saying this because I want credit for all that I do, I'm saying this because I want people to understand that while a simple way of life seems like it should be simple, it's not.

Is it worth it?  Oh my word, yes.  Is it rewarding?  Absolutely.  Do I sometimes think I'm going to go crazy?  Uh-huh.  Do I sometimes want to move back into our old townhouse in a development?  Maybe for one and a half seconds.

When it comes down to it, if I'm going to be busy, this is what I want to be busy doing.  And, if people want to call this simple, I guess I'll just have to let them go on being delusional. 

Either that or have them over and put them to work. Pin It


  1. Amen and amen. Very well said. 'Simple living' probably is a misnomer. And, I definitely have those days when I'd rather live like those around me - going from air-conditioned houses to air-conditioned cars to air-conditioned offices with little or no contact with dirt and a manicured lawn that I hire someone else to maintain. Sometimes.

    As much work as it is, I'm glad we've chosen the 'simple life'.

  2. You are so right -- about all of it! When we first moved to our farm, we did it to return to a "simpler" way of life. We quickly discovered just how much work it is and how there isn't anything simple about simple living! Thankfully, we find it utterly rewarding and like you, we wouldn't want to be crazy busy doing anything else. Great post.

  3. You are so very right, it is anything but simple. Luckily, the empowerment, on every level, that goes along with a self sufficient lifestyle is often so very rewarding in itself that it really does not matter how difficult the work is. I think it truly brings us back and allows us to have a little glimpse of how things were meant to be in the beginning.

    "I never had any other desire so strong, and so like covetousness, as that.... I might be master at last of a small house and a large garden, with very moderate conveniences joined to them, and there dedicate the remainder of my life to the culture of them and the study of nature." - Abraham Cowley

  4. Can I just say that I LOVE looking into peoples refridgerators? YOU buy Cool Whip?

    P.S. I want those cherries!

  5. I'm with you all the way! It's not simple in that it allows sitting around and sipping tea on the veranda. It's simple in that it brings you in touch with the simple pleasures of life. The contentment and small pleasures are endless. I wouldn't trade it for the world. Who needs a sterile gym to work out at when the garden needs hoed and there are strawberries to pick. Oh how I love coming across a toad in the garden or walking barefoot across the thyme between the stepping stones. In the mean time the house is a wreck and the laundry is in piles needing to be folded because the outside is demanding that I conquer, (Or at least try)

    Aunt V.

  6. TH- you said it. I don't harvest anything, (yet) but it really takes alot. Just when breakfast is done, 'I'm hungry' sneaks in the door, and the skillet where we made eggs is still needing a wash. Ironing dh's shirts needs doing, the muddy door mat from going in & out needs washing, the floor needs sweeping from the 5th round of going in and out of the door, and we don't even have food producing chickens that need tending. .... simple way of life... hmm.
    Makes one think... but I wouldn't trade. & my life isn't even as tangibly profitable with food to prepare from the garden.
    Anyway, thanks for sharing. Sometimes simple seems better, but the laundry & the dirty floors sometimes call louder than the birdwatching with kids or the rubbing my hand across the lavender plant in my garden. Making simple look, well, complicated. lol

  7. I think of it more as natural living. I only do 1/100th of what you do (without kids) and it's anything but simple.

  8. Mavis, It's not cool whip:-). We use cool whip containers (donated by family) to freeze our applesauce in. That particular one has hard boiled eggs in it to use on salads.

    Mr. H., Thanks for the quote. It's lovely.

  9. Well said. I've already started a post on this very topic. Something about the time of year, perhaps?

  10. This is exactly the reason I've slacked off on my "simple" living. I can't work outside the home AND live simply because living simply is a full-time job!

  11. OH yes...that doesn't sound simple at all.

  12. this is such a great post. I'm not living nearly as simply as you are...but I'm trying. sometimes I think to myself while washing diapers how much easier it would be to just buy disposables. You are doing a great are an inspiration for all of us simple living wannabees. I love what you said about if you need to be busy this is what you want to be busy doing. Love.that.

  13. I'm on my way over to help hull those peas, can/blanche/freeze what needs it and steal some cherries. But sleep easy my friend. Your pickled beets are safe from me ;)

  14. ha - my daughter and I had a conversation about this (at her level - she's 4) this morning: Mommy, why don't you use the drying machine?

    Another thing, my husband used to complain about how DIRTY the kitchen was, the house was (and it's not - I'm an average housekeeper) - and then we finally had an aha! moment where we realized he had been raised in a household that went out for its entertainment (spotless house) and went out for its food (spotless kitchen). He hasn't said a word about it since! And he loves my cooking and preserving :)

  15. How true! Simple living is only simple in complexity, not in practicality! I so wish I had more time to do all the 'simple' things - maybe when I eventually retire! Great article!

  16. I admire all the work involved with growing all your own food. However, I too am busy living in my townhouse, buying healthy food from the grocery store and cooking decent meals. I am not as fortunate to be able to plant a large garden....any garden really...though I wish I could. Alas, my husband serves in the military and with all our moving and renting homes it is not possible. Please remember that the 'other way' of living is not necessarily easier. But, why my husband defends your freedom to grow your own food, I will be content with buying my food at the air conditioned grocery store.

  17. This is hilarious because after a day of flower beds, mulching, picking veggies, freezing broccoli and cauliflower, and cooking dinner, I thought about how lucky city folks are! :)

  18. We changed our lives completely about 2 1/2 years ago. About a year later I came to the realization of all you just wrote. I do try to approach it as natural living instead of simple. Certainly not easy living.
    In our quest to keep moving down this path, we have sold our suburban home to buy our own place with space. In this interim time, we have had to adjust to the circumstances and places we find ourselves. In doing so, we definitely see the changes we made and have no desire to go back to how life was before! :)
    The materialism of it all and amount of time I have spent buying things I would normally make is driving me a bit nuts. I think breaking free from that has been the best part of the changes, not that it makes right now easy.
    Anonymous--Many, many thanks to you and your husband and all those who sacrifice for all of our freedoms. And thank you Lord for air conditioning! ;)


Just a friendly reminder, if you know me personally please try to refrain from using my name. There are those who may try to locate me, break into my pantry and steal my pickled beets. Thanks:-).

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