Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Year of the Goat

I am not an avid reader. My bookcases are full - not surprisingly - of cookbooks, decorating and hosting books, and a stack or two my favourite magazines. Still an exciting part of my life is searching through mountains of books at our local book clear out depot, where I can fill a good size box for $30. Last time I was there, I meandered down the novel section, one that is very unfamiliar to me, and to be honest, one which doesn't keep my attention. I'm a reality kind of girl. Sometimes, however, these two worlds come together and create stories my way - true stories, about life's journeys, by inspiring people that make me want to better myself. "The Year of the Goat" is one of these.

The author is not only a woman my age, but has a desire to leave behind a fast paced life (not that mine is overly fast) in the city and live simply, enjoying and treasuring everything around her. One major difference might be that I do not desire to become a live stock farmer. It's the life style I am after. As my girls continue to grow, and are both just about ready for full time school, I had always imagined myself with a day job, plenty of shopping on the weekends, and super cool vacations. But stop, I've made some discoveries: An hourly wage does not tempt me so much, I'd rather spend my morning baking bread. Shopping is fun, what can I say, however my new motto is, Buy Only What You Need... and use what you buy. My love for cotton and flowing skirts exceeds any desire for high fashion. Vacations sound fun, I haven't been on many since my childhood. An odd thing happened while reading through several all inclusive brochures: I felt bored just reading them. Sit on a beach all day? It's just not me. I would much rather explore different cultures through discovering the land, by the homes people live in and the food they eat, especially at special gatherings. I love to get my hands dirty, what can I say?

By no means do I intend to proclaim this to be the only way to live, it simply is what I have come to realize, my way. My dream house is not a mansion, but a humble, yet well built family home on a few acres, with a couple of dogs as my security system, and chickens to be chased around in the grass. A lush, successful vegetable garden would be nice. I'd like to call my style Organic Modern. If my Hannah Montana loving daughter would describe this, she'd call it - the best of both worlds.

Here is an excerpt from "The Year of the Goat" by Margaret Hathaway, which is right along the lines of what I have always desired for my family as we grow and change.

"As we make our visits, however, especially to those farms where children are being raised, we begin to think about what it is emotionally that a family farm provides. Working together, eating together, living together: this is a combination that from our earlier perch in New York sounded claustrophobic and gave us anxiety about our own plans for the road. But watching the dynamic between members of the families on working farms, our view is entirely changed. ... On a small working farm, everyone has a role, responsibilities, and, in larger terms, a place. People pitch in and help each other, knowing that every chore - however simple - is important. This isn't to say that living on a farm makes life's relationships easy, or that farm families are always cheerful, but on a very basic level it means that everyone engages with one another, in part because they don't have the luxury of hiding in their room with a laptop or XBox. There are animals to feed, eggs to collect, gardens to weed. And the people whose love and approval are most important depend on each family member to get this work done.

Karl and I both grew up in homes where chores were things like feeding the dog or making our beds. The only thing that depended on their accomplishments was, maybe, our allowance. The more farms we visit, though, the more we see that the fair delegation of real responsibility results in incredible family bonds. Watching families in action, we suspect that the feeling of urban disconnection that first led us to explore these farms might be completely eradicated by adopting this lifestyle."


Tam May May said...

Moni, I've been reading your blog for a few months now (since Lauren told me about it) and I must say, I wish I knew you better because I'm just so enamoured with how you look at life and family and especially food. I've enjoyed every entry and especially today's. Thanks for sharing.

Moni said...

Wow, thanks for the kind and encouraging words! Perhaps we will exchange gardening stories in the future?

Tam May May said...

For sure! It's a lot of work but totally worth it. I just starting clearing the beds today to get ready for planting next month. I created 2 raised beds this year for the things that need more maintenance and boy the herbs I planted last year went nuts replanting themselves all over the place. I love love it.

Wanda said...

Not a word about the cheese??? I had some goat cheese the other day and thought of you. :-)