As Wolf and I made steps to green up our lifestyle it came to our attention there were lots of things we took for granted. For instance, we both really like rice but we had no idea where it came from other than “the store.” Same with our clothes.
Whenever something was “used up” we threw it away and bought a new one, like sponges or clothes. Not once did we put any thought into how those clothes were made or where they came from. Sure, we knew about sweat shops in other parts of the world (and here in the US) but we didn’t think those things pertained to us. I’m not sure why we had the mental disconnect, I think it’s something taught to us by the American consumer culture.
Slowly our green consciousnesses began to formulate and speak to our hearts. Our Pagan souls also became more vocal. We started putting together many pieces of the puzzle to form a more complete picture of the waste we were producing and participating in.
Just as slowly we started making changes. Wolf learned to cook so we ate in more often. We bought smaller cars that have better gas mileage. We started grouping errands together so it was one trip in the car instead of many. I taught myself to knit and I taught us both how to can.
At first I asked my grandmother and mother in law to teach me both but neither knew how. I couldn’t figure out why but after many conversations with both matriarchs I realized they didn’t know because to them knowing how to can and make your own clothes was to show poverty. You see, both women are children of immigrants. Both grew up in a time (much like our time) when being American was what immigrants and their children wanted so they rejected everything about their heritages. To can your own food and make your own clothes, well…that’s what poor people did. Rich people, that is Americans, went to the store and bought bread, milk, sugar, and clothes. These women were so bent on being rich Americans they did not want to learn traditional ways of cooking, preserving, and making their own clothes. Nana and my MIL were *horrified* Wolf and I wanted to learn these skills. Now that we do, though, they are quite proud and will praise the things I knit and the food we can to those who will listen.
Teaching myself to knit has been an on going process. I am still not an advanced knitter though I’m more than a basic but less than an intermediate. Laces, mittens, gloves, and socks still confound me. I’ve not yet attempted a sweater but I can do cables and knit in the round (like hats). To teach myself I got a couple books and, of course, YouTube.
Canning wasn’t much different. I didn’t use YouTube at all but I did buy lots of canning books. Of course there were a couple catastrophes in the kitchen but nothing life threatening. I have not poisoned us nor anyone else. My pickles are pretty damned good and so is my spaghetti sauce. As a matter of fact, now that I make my own sauces, stews, soups, pickles, and mayo I can’t eat store bought stuff. Even the organic is pretty gross. All I can taste is the chemicals and processing whereas my food, well… it’s perfect =). Well, next to Wolf’s whose food is always, always outstanding.
Yes it took time to teach ourselves these skills. But they are worth it. Now I look at food on my plate with pride, or the wares in my Etsy shop with a sense of accomplishment (please buy my stuff!). Wolf is the same way when he looks at a blackberry pie he’s made or a chicken he’s killed, skinned, and processed at The Gitch’s or Maggie Mae Farm.
So we’ll continue on our regressive journey to become progressive members of the world community. And we’ll feel dammed good about it.