Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Auld Lang Syne - or - The Fruits of Our Labor

It's snowy around here, and has been for just about the entire month of December. I love it. We had a white Christmas for the first time in quite a few years, and it was so perfect to look outside and see softly falling snow on Christmas Eve and on Christmas morning. Just perfect.

In a few days, in fact, just in time for New Year's Eve and Day, it's going to warm up and rain and all the snow will turn to slop. I could complain about that, but I try not to complain about the weather. It seems like the weather always brings what we need, in some way or another, even if it isn't obvious at the time. Having the snow melt away will certainly help hubby to get more firewood, for example.

During winter, the pseudo hibernation we slip into around here is not only pleasant, but necessary, I feel, after the long days of summer so full of work. It's perfect for planning next year's garden, canning lots of convenience food for the pantry, getting the house in order, tackling indoor projects, and playing games with the kids.

I've just about wrapped up my gifts for the season. It happened yesterday as I assembled the final gift box for some dear friends of ours. As I stood back from my work table and looked the items gathered there, I realized how much a reflection of our lifestyle this gift is. I decorated a sampling of our canned goods with fabric "hats," and attached labels. I baked several breads and cookies and made a cheese log, plus knitted a kerchief and a hat. It's a nice box, altogether.

Then I started thinking about where everything came from. The ingredients for the canned goods almost entirely came from our garden, with the exception of salt and vinegar and a few seasonings. The fabric to decorate the jars came from the box of fat quarters I got from a garage sale last fall. The labels came from a thrift store. The box and tissue paper to package it all have been reused and recycled many times. The work came from my hands and was spirited by my heart and soul. I cannot express the satisfaction that accompanies my pursuits. To put it simply, it drives me, it motivates me to eliminate the middle man in ever more ways.

This is not a bragging post. It is simply a post to communicate to anyone who might be reading that you can do it yourself! Every year we do more for ourselves. We have such a long way to go on this journey, but seeing the fruits of our labor encourages me, spurs me on to continue and to bite off another chunk each year. In my mind it unfolds like this, as I look down at my gift box...

I think to myself... The first year we gardened, I only canned tomatoes and cucumbers, because we had so very many. The rest of the food we basically ate or stored in the cellar. The next year, I made sure to plant enough to can green beans, too. But it wasn't a huge amount. So the next year I planted enough of lots of different foods to can enough to store a big variety for winter. But still, I was using garlic and onions from the store, and lots of other stuff, too. This most recent year I only bought salt and vinegar, and some seasonings, to accomplish my canning. The rest came from us.

Five years ago we had no garden.

So... look around you and consider from whence your stuff cometh. Regard the fruits of your labor and determine how much you buy and how much you create or provide for yourself. There's always another step you can take care of yourself, like saving your seeds, growing and drying herbs, and getting chickens. We do some of this already, but can do even more next year.

As the current year wraps itself up and the new one approaches, take some time for reflection. Look around you, think about what you can do for yourself, and make a change. And give thanks and gratitude for the richness of your life. Because no matter what you have or where you live, there is always so much to be thankful for. I am thankful for my family, my friends, the cycle of the seasons, this chunk of land we are borrowing from Mother Earth until we become a part of it, and for opportunity. There are so many choices, each and every day.

Suddenly this is sounding a lot like making resolutions. So with that, I will bid you a peaceful passing of the year, and a tender start to the new one.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And days of auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll take a cup of kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

Happy New Year


  1. What a great post Suzanne. Often we need these types of reminders that we can do it. You are an inspiration. Now, to figure out that hula hoop. :)

  2. What an inspiring post! We just started our first garden this past summer and canned what we could. I wish we had room (and time) for chickens.

    I'm grateful that people like you are out there. You give the rest of us hope!

  3. suzanne, you are super awesome and it is pure pleasure and an honor to know you. happy new year to you and your beautiful family!

  4. Marci, thank you so much! You are an inspiration to me, more than you can imagine, you cheesemaker, you! And the hooping will work out... just keep at it.

    Sassafrass, thank you... I just poked into your blog and I'm going to be poking in more often!

    And Abi, well, what can I say? It is such a pleasure to know you, as well... even if only in the blogosphere. And you inspire me with all your chickens and alpaca and crafting.

    All your comments just make me realize how we're all on this journey together, all making our way trying to figure things out. And it's truly wonderful to share information and inspiration with each other! Happy New Year...

  5. I sure am grateful for our life here. Going to work hard on getting the "earth bag" root cellar finished this spring and summer, which should increase our ability to keep our crop. Great post Suz.

  6. Thanks, Joe... I'm loving the idea of that root cellar, and can't wait to help!