Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sunday, January 25, 2009

One thousand words

I have been working on the same blog post for nearly two weeks now. Over the past few months, I have started down some sort of pseudo-homesteading path, and was feeling the need to articulate why I feel compelled to do so. Words don't seem to be adequate to explain it, though. One of my favorite homesteading bloggers, Jenna Wogenrich, summed it up by saying "It’s the honesty of knowing what I do everyday directly helps keep me alive." That doesn't quite work for me, since (given our local zoning laws) I am unlikely to start raising livestock any time soon, and the hot peppers and Brussels sprouts I'm planning for the garden are hardly what you'd call staples. Still, in that statement she gets to the immediacy of baking your own bread, growing your own veggies, being connected to the sources of your food, living a more self-sufficient - and yet, oddly, more connected - life. In her case that includes raising her own chickens; in mine, it involves a growing friendship with the farmers who raise the chickens, cows, and lambs we eat.

Food is obviously a big part of this impulse, but it isn't the whole thing. Professionally (if you can call "perpetual grad student" a profession), I pretty much live inside my own head. In our classes, we have endless debates about the finest semantic points, and what seem to be simple declarative sentences get dissected and analyzed until they have lost all meaning. There are days when this sort of work is fun, when the academic exercises feel like tricky mystery plots to solve. Then there are other times, when I feel like, if I don't get out of my brain and do something constructive, I'll explode. Writing filled that purpose for a while, and might yet again, but right now it's too tied up with all that theory. I swear I used to be able to write, but grad school has made it a paralyzing process. The homesteader's life, where the product of your work is concrete, practical, and immediately tangible, is becoming a much-needed respite from that, and one which may very well allow me to continue all that theorizing without going stark staring mad.

Which is all to say that, suddenly, it seems a little pointless to spend so much time attempting to intellectualize what is, at it's core, not an intellectual thing. Instead, I think this sums it up nicely: just out of the oven Who knows - maybe thinking in terms of pictures rather than words will help me keep this site from becoming a complete ghost town.