Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Future

I spend and have always spent a considerable amount of time picuring the future. This may be why I was able to move around the country so easily for so many years. I love the art of imagining a life yet realized. I wouldn't say it interferes with my current life or keeps me from being contented in the present, although maybe it does.

In any event, it's not a behavior I plan on changing. It means that I spend my bike rides thinking about the future, what I will do when I no longer need to work full time. I spend time while canning tomatoes thinking about the garden I will plant next year, and what I need to do to improve the soil in my garden, and what might work better in the raised beds next year, what out in the plain old bed.

These days, what I think about all has to do with life in this place, because for the first time in forever, I plan on staying in the place I'm in.

I think a lot about my writer's cabin: how it will look, what it will be like to go out there and write, what of my furnishings I've managed to hold onto so I can put them in there. I still long for a space that feels fully my own and which I can decorate the way I like to decorate.

Much of what I think about is completely mundane. I want to have one of those 5-gallon water jugs out there, because I drink a lot of water when I'm writing. I want a wood stove, and I wonder if I'm the kind of person who will go out there and light the stove in the cold, face the cold until the cabin warms up.

In this, the heart of harvest season, I also think about the next steps for living off the grid. I'm about to start reading Barbara Kingsolver's book, Animal Vegetable, Miracle: a Year of Food Life, about her year eating only local and seasonal food. I'd like to do that, but realize mostly the limitations of my growing season and my interest in hard work! After all, I only managed to can nine quarts of tomatoes, and really don't see how I could do another five (not that I have enough tomatoes for that!)

At the same time, I live in a place of real abundance in terms of good food. On our farm, Annie and Tim provide us with eggs. We have amazing local bakers, the Nelsons, and Steve also loves to bake bread. On the same road as the Nelsons live the Doyles, who are mushroom farmers. There is the St. Joseph meat market where you can buy large bundles of local beef and pork to keep in your freezer. If you want to really go crazy, there is a local producer of fine, grass-fed beef. The Willenbrings of Cold Spring keep us in asparagus, strawberries and corn (I do plan on growing my own raspberries, which they also provide at the farmers' market). Then there's the yak farmer, Mr. Hooper, who we sat next to at a wedding a few weeks ago. People swear by his yak steaks. I'd really like to find a source for ground venison for winter chili.

There is plenty to think about, as I let myself get deeper and deeper into the yearly cycle of this place. Just learning to balance eating the fresh harvest with the canning and pickling and freezing is an art all it's own. New garden vegetables are calling out to me: beets and radishes and arugula and the raspberries and blueberries. Someone said they have had good luck growing tomatillos, too.

As life continues to unfold, I will hopefully have the life I'm imagining now: writing and gardening and with good project work now and then, time to think and make things and eat and exercise and read all the Library of America volumes I'm laying in store for those days-- especially the cold days with the wood stove burning and a lamp on.

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