Life is so hectic these days that we sometimes forget to live. Unlike what we see on TV, in the news and on the Internet, living doesn’t really cost anything.
My granny was born and raised in the hills of West Virginia. With my mom and dad working a lot, I spent most of my childhood at or near Granny’s feet. Throughout those impressionable years, she taught me many skills by the way she lived each day.
A few of those skills were: crocheting, gardening, canning with – now vintage – wire clamp-lid jars, cooking from scratch, making jams and jellies, preserving meat and making a penny stretch into a dime.
Every fall, there was always a large crock with homemade sauerkraut in the corner of a room. If there was an empty canning jar, she found something to fill it with.
I remember watching her lay out foil on the counter, after it had been used, and gently cleaning, drying and folding it to be stored until the next use. Foil was carefully washed until it had too many holes to cook with. It would then be balled up and used for scrubbing pans if we couldn’t afford steel wool, or it would be hung in the garden to deter deer.
Bacon grease was a precious fat and always collected and screened into a jar for later use. Not only was the bacon grease used for cooking but it was also used to treat all of the cast iron pans.
We recycled by reusing until it was unusable.
A bath towel became a hand towel, then a wash cloth, a cleaning rag. and finally a fire starter.
Several times a year, I would walk up and down that country road picking up cans to sell to the recycling center. This was my self-fundraising.
These daily routines were such a part of life that they are still engrained into me. Because I still live this way, my family often remarks that I was born in the wrong century.
As a child, I had no computer, gaming consoles or cell phone, but I had an amazing fort I had built myself. It was on top of the shed by our woods. It had four short walls, about three feet tall, and a small door which could be opened or closed without a hinge – since I couldn’t afford one. It also had no roof. I spent most of my summer nights in that fort. The sound of the crickets and the gentle breeze blowing through the leaves would lull me to sleep under the brilliant stars.
Most of my days were filled with outside chores and being in the soil. I still love the soil. Whether it was planting the garden, pulling weeds, harvesting or just digging holes and roads for my army trucks and toy cars, I was usually outside.
Some days we would drive about 30 minutes away to the local creek. I would bury my bare feet into the sand and soil, fish, swim or just sit on the bank and enjoy the symphony of sounds surrounding me.
Although my grandparents lived through the Great Depression, they never really talked about it. I believe it was because those who lived out in the country, already growing their own food and saving the seeds, raising and hunting their own meat, fixing their own equipment, etc., were not that affected by the troubles of the world around them.
Many people are now moving to the country and trying to set up homesteads. Maybe they are trying to get to that old way of living, but it isn’t that simple. Some succeed, however, many fail.
We are so engulfed with technology, conveniences, going to a job far from home, going here and there, and keeping up with and trying to impress everyone else that we have lost the sweetness in the simple.
Technology has become an overlooked addiction; people drowning in a sea of chaos, unable to crawl out. Life does cost, but stepping away from the mayhem for a moment and just living doesn’t.
What is really important to you?
What are you living for?