Wednesday, April 17, 2013

April Has Been a Bust

So far April has been a bust for gardening.  In past years I have already gotten all of my flower and vegetable gardens weeded by now and my seedlings have several sets of real leaves on them.  Not this year.  I forgot about my seedlings in the basement and they dried out so I had to start again a few weeks ago.  Winter held on longer than usual and spring decided to arrive, not with sunshine and warmth, but rain and cooler than normal temperatures.  Walking in my yard is like walking on a wet sponge. 

My winter work is done: mending is done, sewing is done, closets are purged.  If I take up my knitting needles again, it will be to jab one in my eye.  I want dirt under my fingernails and sun kissed cheeks. I want to wear dresses again without freezing.  I want to open the windows in my house and get some fresh air in this place. Sigh.

This late spring has me worried about my eating local from my backyard challenge.  If things keep growing at this rate, I'm going to lose a lot of weight because all I'll have to eat are salad greens and herbal teas. 

I want to turn off my furnace and get rid of my electric blanket.  I want to sleep with my windows open even if it means I sneeze for hours because of my allergies. 

But most of all, I want to be able to lie in my hammock at the end of a long day working in the sun and take a nap.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Taking Back the Suburbs

There's a lot to hate about the suburbs: large housing developments built on good farm land that now just grow herbicide laden lawns that serve no purpose, winding meandering streets that make it impossible to walk or drive in a straight line and that come to abrupt ends in a cul-de-sac (I live in one), or even the fact that walking anywhere is the exception and definitely not the rule.  People in the 'burbs sure love their cars, and the bigger the better!  It's no surprise that the people are also a bit bigger.

But the suburbs also tend to be where the newer, better schools are.  The cities and neighborhoods just look "prettier" than their city equivalents.  Living in a house, with some lawn, in a safe, HOA approved landscaped home is to what many of us Americans aspire. By living in these neighborhoods, we also only have to come into contact with people who look like us and talk like us and worship like us...unlike the city where you have to learn get along with everyone just because you live in a more densely populated place.  Different is scary and bad to most of us.

Anyway, I try to buck the traditional trends in much of my life.  Actually, I'm a big fan of tradition, but I like to put my own twist on it.  I've been a stay-at-home mom, housewife, homemaker, whatever label you want to put on it, for most of the 21 years I've been married, very traditional.  However, I still do what I want.  I choose to be home for reasons that have changed over the years.

One of those reasons is gardening.  I love to grow my own food.  I love to farm my yard.  Many people may see what I do as a hobby; it's no hobby.  I am dead serious about what I grow.  Living in the suburbs has shown me just how radical this is.

We lived in a small town of about 3,000 people for about 7 years.  Having a large vegetable garden was not seen as anything other than reasonable there.  Every other house had at least a few pots of cherry tomatoes if not half their lawn tilled up each spring.  Neighbors shared extra produce (zucchinis at church were avoided by most of us, tomatoes always got taken).

Where I live now, very few people garden on that scale, if at all.  I'm the only one sharing any garden produce (at least in my little neighborhood).  Not complaining, that's just how it is.  People rip out fruit trees for being "messy" on a regular basis.  However, I think I've been doing it long enough here (9 years) that it probably no longer seems weird to my neighbors (plus they get free salad).

We may move in a few years, which makes me a bit sad.  I've put a lot of work into my yard and gotten a lot of food from it.  The soil has improved and there are LIVING trees in my backyard now (none when we moved in).  My city does not allow backyard chickens and I want a couple of laying hens.  I either become a guerrilla chicken farmer (breaking rules goes against my nature) or we move.  Changing the ordinance here is not possible, no council members are willing to sponsor that change. People are afraid of a couple of chickens but everyone owning big barking crapping dogs are a-ok.  Stupid if you ask me, which they didn't. Sigh.

So I will continue to take back what I can from my neighborhood and change my own little part of suburbia to something more sustainable and natural.