First, just for your joy and delectation, this video of pure delight sent to me by Jon and Rosie (my daughter and partner) from their Christmas holiday in Switzerland. It's nice with the sound on.
Sigh. That’s how everyday life should be.
Then, the business of New Year Resolutions. Some people don’t find these helpful; I do. They assist me in focusing.
So for 2014, I have two things planned, one for the regular everyday, one just for Lent.
In Lent 2014, I plan to take the opportunity of the custom of giving something up, to abstain from opinions. I am so used to opinions that I think for more than six weeks I would find it unrealistic and exhausting to give them up. And it might turn out to have a downside I haven’t thought of. But I am going to try it for six weeks to see what difference it makes.
Then for the everyday, during 2014 I am going to be more serious about foraging and scavenging. My skills in this area are dull and shoddy, and need improving.
I sometimes wonder what we will all do when the economy collapses and the oil runs out. Of course such a turn of events will be preceded by unfortunate bright ideas by the government like tar sands, fracking and huge building programs to boost flagging economies, and accompanied by unprincipled and unrestrained destruction of the wilderness that offers our only hope of wellbeing and survival as a species – clear-felling the forests, polluting earth air and sky and raiding the oceans for everything that lives we haven’t killed. But before and until we destroy ourselves and every source of hope and healing entirely, I imagine there will be a time when it will benefit us to be resourceful and able to live lightly.
When I read of otherwise enlightened souls planning for economic collapse by hoarding food, I always feel disappointed, because it betokens a failure of intelligence.
To have a store cupboard for tiding one over short stretches of need (unemployment in one’s own life or a neighbour’s, or a bad patch of difficult weather, for example) makes good sense.
But if the economy collapsed and the grocery stores were empty, who really imagines they could sit at home with their hoard saying “Well, I’m okay. Shame about you”?
If you had food while your neighbour had nothing, surely you would share it? And if you didn’t, they’d probably come in and take it anyway. Looting and scarcity do go together.
Besides, in desperate times, packing down small and travelling light would grow more and more essential as life de-stabilised and sharing became essential. To a greater or lesser extent, we have already reached that place. For many families, the cost of accommodation has already outstripped the income they are able to generate, and extended family homes are much more common now than forty years ago.
So having 200 kilos of flour and the same of rice and lentils, with similar quantities of long-life milk, juice, spices, fat etc etc would be a dubious advantage.
But the ability to scavenge and forage would not only stand one in good stead in any scary future scenario, it would also be a usefully frugal modus operandi right here and now.
Therefore through 2014 I will be concentrating on scavenging and foraging, to see what I can learn and how I can improve those useful skills.
One of the easiest starting points will be wooding. What kind of sense does it make to pay for gas and electricity, buy in wood or coal, while littering the ground in parks and pavements are the fallen twigs, fir-cones and broken-up dead small branches that would make excellent kindling and even generate all the heat needed to boil a kettle? Right at this minute the winter rain is falling heavily, and I don’t relish the thought of taking my wooding bag out on the hunt. But I have foraged a wonderful basketful of pinecones from just one stand of trees, and it’s hanging up from a rafter under the eaves of Komorebi, lying in wait for the installation of my quietly patient little wood stove.