Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Living 01

Today I am starting a new once a week post on my search for a simpler life, called Living. For me a simpler life is one that uses fewer fossil fuels and extracted resources, relies on more local foods, restores a balance to nature's processes, maintains my (and my family's) health, promotes peace, and supports efforts, both local and global, that allow others to do the same.

I have actually been on this quest for several years, certainly since I left a full-time job to begin consulting. That is one of the conundrums of this search for a simpler life, as it takes time to live in balance with nature given our current culture. Most people are working long hours, in part to buy things that don't support Living, but instead are harmful to our health, our community, and our planet. I am not immune to buying such things, hence my continued quest.

Here is one personal dilemma that I am mulling over. Most of the nature blogging community would likely concur that photos, beautiful photos, enhance the written story. The digital camera that I use is getting old and does not take great photos (I know that it is more about the operator than the equipment, but sometimes equipment does matter). So, I have dreamed about getting a new digital SLR camera. I am not so much debating the cost of such a purchase, but the resources that go into making the camera, extractive resources and processes that are arguably harmful to the planet and possibly harmful to a community in some far off country. So my very purpose in writing the blog -- to appreciate and protect nature -- has me thinking about whether I really need a new camera.

This debate goes on in my head every day. Do I really need a new camera? Of course not, so today I lean toward sticking with my current camera. Perhaps this is also the time to take up drawing.

One aspect of Living where I have achieved greater success is relying on more local foods. I have written about my gardens and helping at New Roots Farm in previous blogs. Planting, weeding, harvesting, and eating your own food is a cornerstone of Living. This week we are enjoying the "fruits" of our labor -- rhubarb, Swiss chard, asparagus, eggs.

Swiss chard, asparagus, and eggs from New Roots Farm.

New Roots young farmer Caleb feeding Swiss chard to the free range chickens.

Bright Lights Swiss chard, one of the best foods.

Hey, those pictures aren't so bad!

No one likes to be told what to do, whether they are my 6-year old niece or a large country at odds with the U.S. My belief is that you can only show by example and by offering positive alternatives. My niece is a great artist, I think I will ask her to teach me to draw. They do say that everything you need to know you learned in kindergarten.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Ellen,

    I can't argue with a simple life, not that I lead one, or the desire to cut down blogs to once a week. My thought is that technology has given people all sorts of new tools and toys. But it's easy to let them become the master and dictate your life for you.

    And you know my answer to photos and drawing: start drawing. My guess is that it's a bit like learning to cook those fresh vegetables. I'm sure some people, including an old Phi Beta Kappa student of mine who cringed when I asked her to peel a clove of garlic because she didn't know how, would love to cook but don't have the faintest idea where to begin. But once you start you realize how easy it is.

    I've always had very mixed feelings about photography, in fact they're probably more positive now than they ever have been in my life and they're still quite mixed. I do think that there is something too easy or maybe too quick in shooting photos, especially of the natural world. Every time I take a photo of a bird, while my wife usually stands by looking at them through her binoculars, I realize that I'm missing the good looks that she is getting. I do it because I hope to use the photos for later artwork but it still comes at a price. I'd be far better off just looking closely or maybe trying to sketch what is right in front of me, no matter how fleeting, as Debby Kaspari does.

    To sum it up I do think that you'll find drawing offers the same rewards that you're looking for from a simple life in general. Why not try to draw or paint for a few months first? By the way my blog, Drawing the Motmot and Low Country WILD Nature Art & Journaling all have entries on watercolor pencils and waterbrushes. They're fairly simple and cheap utensils that you might find help make you more comfortable with drawing and painting.

    Good luck,