I love autumn. It is my favourite season of the year.
As summer fades away, I enjoy the temperate days that the beginning of the new season brings, and then as winter draws near towards the end of the season, we light the fire, with wood gathered from friends and kerbsides and trees taken down, keeping us warm, inviting us home and bringing us together in search of comfort.
I always return to cooking soup – nutritional, warming and robust soup made from local ingredients, some gathered from our garden, some exchanged for produce that we have saved from the height of summer’s harvest, some purchased from the local farmers’ market or organic store. Over the weekend I made a big pot of veggie and bacon soup with dried parsley from our herb patch. There isn’t really a recipe for this, I simply put in whatever vegetables I have, together with some dried cannelloni beans, lentils, tomato paste, canned tomatoes and some bacon if there is some in the fridge. So it turns out differently every time I make it. Here it was waiting to be stirred and simmered.
I enjoy the sound of the rain falling, comforting me in the knowledge that there is water to be had, the rains have started to return to us the essence of life and we can drink and bathe in rainwater at least until the dry season returns.
Today I enjoyed the clear blue skies that Adelaide is renowned for in autumn, and as I walked around our city’s west end, I enjoyed the play of the golden leaves of the deciduous plane trees which line our city streets against the bright blue skies at midday.
By 4 o’clock the night was closing in as a reminder that winter is just around the corner, but for now I am remembering the power of the sun which warmed me to my bones today and the play of light between shadows formed by the trees on the streets and on buildings … I am still enjoying the last throes of my favourite season.
We are currently selling our house. With the current market in Adelaide, I have very little expectation that this will be a quick process – recent reports suggested that the average time on the market is 91 days, that is, 3 months or 13 weeks. At least 13 open inspections, at least 13 times I have to polish the shower screen to a mirror like finish, at least 13 times we need to make the house look like no-one actually lives here – I mean really lives, as in living like a normal human being – messy, disorganised, stretched, involved in lots of things, connected to friends and family and community and work and having fun – that type of living. Like most of us do. It amazes me that buyers expect your house will be ‘show home standard’ – don’t they realise that no one actually lives in show homes? We put away the photos that show real people, we de-clutter every space, even the spare room, by taking our clutter somewhere else for someone to store and we simplified the furnishings and the amount of ‘stuff’ that we have.
The upside of this is that this type of simplifying, while in itself was an arduous task, did force us to consider what we would need over the coming months while the house is on the market. Out of everything that has gone into storage I think we have only recalled one or two things in the past weeks. Things which we were so connected with that we couldn’t possibly donate, recycle or re-purpose them that we had to store them. We did donate, recycle and repurpose some things – coming to a realisation that perhaps that book or other ‘thing’ was no longer required, that in some way we had moved beyond needing it. With a new focus on how we want to live more sustainably and lightly, our needs and wants have changed – things which seemed important when we were first together, no longer seem to be so important. Books on organics, farming, self-sufficiency and Permaculture have replaced comics, science-fiction books, lifestyle magazines and trashy novels. Items which will continue to give good service and were in good condition stayed, including the 2 analogue TVs – we don’t watch that much TV and the delay of the analogue signal being switched off has meant we can still find something to watch when we want to actually watch TV, which isn’t very often these days or we watch something we’ve recorded previously.
Even though living in a ‘show home’ may not feel quite as homely as usual, the simplification process has been valuable – once again we are consciously considering what is really important in our lives and the opportunity to remove some of those things has been almost cathartic and a confirmation that we are changing, responding, moving forward into a future which is more sustainable and straightforward, giving room for new habits and practices to come into our lives or perhaps leaving just a little bit of space to breathe ….
They say there are only two things in life which are certain: death and taxes – and probably not in that order! In this millennium, and certainly within this decade, change is, almost unarguably, a certainty too. Whether we like it or not. We often react to change a lot better when we feel like we’ve had a hand in its direction or have instigated the change ourselves. But when change is thrust upon us, sometimes we don’t react nearly as positively. It can take us time to adjust to what the change is bringing or has brought. There are multiple ‘change curves’ out there – just try Googling it… all are attempts to explain the emotions and reactions we experience when going through change. Whether the change is voluntary or not we will experience a range of responses. We read stories of those who have suffered at the hand of change and have not adapted. Charles Darwin was right. Those who do not adapt do not ultimately thrive and those that do not thrive most often, do not survive. So change we must – whether we like it or not.
About 3 years ago I read a book called Choosing Eden, the real dirt on the coming energy crisis by Adrienne Langman which came to me attached to the front cover of a Gardening Australia magazine. It enlightened me to terms like “Peak Oil” which I had never heard of before I read that book. I know, I know, where had I been? I’d been working 50 – 60 hour weeks in mainstream, middle class Australia, relying on the popular media to keep me informed of world events. So, obviously I was not too well informed! I started with Google – after all, where else do you go when you want to know something? And I started to discover that there were plenty of people out in cyberspace talking about Peak Oil and what would happen once we hit that point. I kept Googling – part of me was in denial – what if this was not real? What if it was? Worse, what if I ignored the warning signs?
What was the worst thing that could happen if I responded to this new information? How would I respond? Would my partner respond too? I encouraged him to read the book – another person’s trusted opinion about something can sometimes help you to put new information into perspective. He read it. He felt the same imperative as I did. We had to respond – in a constructive, practical way.
And so we have. And so we will continue to respond to the challenges of Peak Oil, of diminishing global resources, of increasing population growth, of learning to live well on less, of finding a way of treading more lightly on this planet. That’s when this journey was really born … but I’m sure this isn’t where it will end.
If you haven’t read this book, then get your hands on a copy here. I recommend it for ‘starters’ or others who simply need inspiration.
This morning when I arose I was greeted by a beautiful, late autumn morning sun coming through my kitchen window. After 2 or 3 days of grey, raining, misting Adelaide Hills weather it was such a lovely way to start the day, with the promise of sunshine. From the north east at this time of the year, the sun was pouring through the gaps in the gum tree outside and warming me through the glass as I was contemplating what was ahead for the day. My daisy on the windowsill seemed to bask in its warmth, looking almost luminescent in its light.
So I stood and looked out from the north glass for a few moments and simply enjoyed the sun … happy Sunday!
This is my first post. Hopefully it is not the Last Post. (With all respect to those who honourably gave their lives for our freedom.)
I’ve wanted to start a blog for a while, to share my journey into the post-cheap oil world. Life as we know it is changing, whether we like it or not, and my goal is to face the challenges that change will bring and succeed … succeed in finding a new way of life that is sustainable, that treads more softly on this fragile planet and that feeds my soul as well as my family.
I hope my journey with all it’s anticipated learning, adventure,achievements, disappointments and fun can inspire you to embrace the change, challenge the way you interact with our beautiful world and entertain you at times too!
Over the next few posts I’ll explain to you why I felt the need to change, what’s changed so far, why the name of this post is The North Glass, who I am, what I am seeking. Along that path I expect I will be sidetracked, distracted and interrupted by life, so there will probably be posts about things I can’t even imagine yet. That’s life!
So bookmark my blog and stay tuned!