Gratitude or Gratification?

 

Gratitude vs Gratification

Gratitude vs Gratification

Unlike our forebears we live with an enormous amount of very accessible resources. This accessibility has come about through generations of struggle & sacrifice and a great deal of ‘wanting to make it better for our children’.

But how far is far enough? We can now hear a song, reach into our pockets for the technology (that used to take the space of a building) and own that said same song in less than two minutes for fewer than two dollars. Now I’m not saying this isn’t a valuable resource to have access to, however it is one of an extraordinary number of ways in which our wants can be immediately gratified.

But what of our needs, can they be gratified as quickly? Water, food, clothing and shelter are in abundance around us. How we choose to eat, clothe and house ourselves really comes down to the level to which we are prepared to delay our gratification. Making money takes time and the types of sacrifices we make to secure our desired lifestyle depend upon (among many other factors) whether we actually know what is involved in achieving that goal, and how prepared we are to work and wait for it.

For me, both gardens and houses provide my family with a rich training ground in this area. Not only is the practical knowledge of planning, measuring, cutting, digging, planting, watering and harvesting being imparted but in the process my children are being taught the skills to successfully determine the difference between the needs and wants of life.

Gardens take time and effort to grow before their bounty can be consumed and in a world that offers much immediate gratification, these events offer real life experience in a gentle and supportive environment, to take a longer range approach to life and also to weigh up the realities of both delayed and immediate action.

There’s also a lot to be said for learning about the importance of gratitude in our daily lives through the lens of the longer term. If we take the time each day to be grateful for the everyday people, places and things in our lives we are much more able to bear the perceived sacrifices we make along the way to our less immediate goals.

 

A Natural Celebration

Harvested Vegetables

Raw Materials Ready to Be Made into Christmas Treats

Christmas on The Ridge will be celebrated the way nature does it. We’ll make a showy display of all the things that make us who we are. We’ll decorate to attract beneficial passers by and we’ll delight in nourishing them with our sweet nectar.

All year we have been preparing the gifts we will give over the festive season. Just as you have written your Christmas wish lists, we’ve spent many hours planning and choosing what to give. Just as you’ve bought presents throughout the year and stowed them away to be wrapped at a later date, we’ve stored ours safely within the soils.

Each gift we give will be a celebration of our year; carefully planted, nourished, grown and lovingly shared. These gifts are infused with the same energy that went into their creation. Within each twist of vine in a basket or juicy burst of flavour in a jar of relish is the relief that came with the rain that finally fell after a long hot week, the gratitude for the warmth of the sun on a cold winter’s morning and the positive intentions for strong healthy growth that accompanied the moisture in every hand-drawn bucket of recycled water.

As the year draws to a close and we slip into a somewhat slower pace, the gifts we create serve to remind us of each of the major events of 2014.  Each different ingredient of the final product helps to affirm the choices we make and provides us with the opportunity to share ourselves in a meaningful way with the ones we love.

Of all the traditions we participate in, this natural, homegrown one is by far my favourite. From our Ridge to yours, I wish you a Christmas filled with the peace and reverence that nature encourages us to share.

Give It Away To Keep It

Published in Eumundi Green Issue 191

Life on a Better Ridge Give It Away To Keep It

We were recently gifted a mammoth pumpkin (a Trombone Gramma to be precise), and it reminded me just how homogeneous our food can become if we only ever shop in supermarkets. When was the last time you saw a two-and-a-half-foot pumpkin in the fresh food aisle? I rest my case.

There are, however, many ways we can ensure that non-conformist species like this pumpkin continue to grace our tables. Many locations have formal seedbanks or seed-saver groups from which you can buy heirloom-variety seeds to grow at home, and there are commercial nurseries that will ship stock directly to your door. Farmers’ Markets are also a great source of non-compliant vegetables.

Buying veges from a local source like this also has an added informational component; the growers are usually more than willing to let you in on propagation advice and seed-saving tips so your crop will produce year after year. Not everyone has a Monsanto mindset and most people when asked, will be happy to share the lessons they have learned (given their knowledge, and possibly their plants, likely came from asking similar questions).

But our best resources are usually right on our doorstep. Neighbours and friends often have all sorts of interesting things hidden in their back gardens or in dusty bottles and packets of seeds that they found in great aunt Daisy’s airing cupboard. And if they live nearby and the plant grows well there, then you have a pretty good chance of being able to grow them at your place too.

The best way to keep heirloom varieties alive is by, well, keeping them alive! Seeds do have a shelf life and along with that can fall victim to moisture, mould and small critters. One thing I particularly advocate when you do get hold of interesting seeds or cuttings is to share them around. If you can give them to friends, neighbours or relatives to grow, they not only get to enjoy the foods or flowers these provide but with each successive generation you can collect more seeds and spread the species further. There is also the bonus of having access to more seeds if there’s been a particularly bad cold snap, dry spell or chicken invasion and you’ve lost your crop.

Anticipation

Published in Eumundi Green Issue 177

Life on a Better Ridge: Anticipation

This week brings the greatest anticipation I have felt for many months. The ‘dry spell’ we’ve had has brought with it some long-awaited blue skies and has finally dried the property out somewhat, making mowing not only necessary but achievable.

As the weather warms, there are noticeable signs that spring is on its way. Bare tree branches are blushing with early tinges of green and our little flock of chickens are almost back to full production levels after what seems like a very long and almost egg-less winter (feeding 20 chickens each chilly morning and evening and receiving little more than an expectant peck now and then left me pondering our motivation for keeping these feathered friends!)

Even the house building has turned its focus outside at the moment as we leave the walls and roofing design to install our new environmentally sensitive on-site sewerage system.

With the land now dry enough to dig, the pipes and trenches have been laid out, the tank installed and our sand-filled beds have been made ready. Installing the septic system at this stage of our building process will not only make it super speedy when it comes time to connect up the bathroom but will also take the pressure off the ailing system that is currently in operation on the property.

Did you know that most conventional septic systems operate efficiently for less than ten years! Harsh chemicals, tree root invasions and leaky toilets and taps can all have a detrimental impact on the operation of your system and if it is already compromised then large amounts of rain can reduce the soil’s capacity to disperse treated liquids – leaving you with sour soil and foul smells.

Given the rainfall we have already experienced, I suggest that if you start smelling something a little funky, have a look at your treatment system and if there’s a problem, seek help straight away.

The motivation for our new ‘poo pit’ (as the kids have dubbed it) has inadvertently spilled over (pun intended) to pruning the nearby orchard and anything else that lay in the intended path of the pipework. During one walkthrough of the proposed poo pipe path, I was delighted to notice that we had new mulberries forming on our trees already. I am excited that we might have an early crop this year and after seeing the delicious strawberry pudding recipes in the last issue of Eumundi Green, I am anticipating some sweet mulberry pie come summer.

Each new phase of building and change of seasons here on The Ridge brings with it a new sense of anticipation and excitement and reminds me daily why we chose this path. There is a sense of anticipation, whether it be for some fresh eggs, a picnic on the grass or a new dwelling. Each of these things allows us to break out of our habitual patterns and reinvigorate the joy that is inherent in life. I never cease to awaken my gratitude and bring about an awareness of the bigger picture that envelopes us every day. For that, I am truly thankful.