Our Life Self Reliance

Safe House

MaryAnnAilloTexas1920sBad shit is going down in Paris, there was another earthquake in Japan and the world situation is desperate as usual. It’s enough to make me want to crawl back under the covers.

Everything looks good from my sunny desk window. Colorful birds chipping away at the feeder, traffic purposefully whizzing by, leaves lazily fluttering. I’m taking it slow today, recuperating from vascular surgery and my belly is full of the cheeseburger Bob made for breakfast.

My weekend “To Do” list is benign and easily realized. A little writing, some crocheting and a bit of work in the kitchen. Our browsers are off and neither Bob nor I will climb into a vehicle today.

Yup, all seems well if we ignore the news. We didn’t have the heart to watch the 911 footage and this new mess is equally distressing. If there were something we could do, we would. Meanwhile we’re going to carry on and look the other way.

But wait, actually we are doing something. Along with our friends, neighbors and co-workers, we’re creating a local economy which will survive cataclysmic collapse. Call it sustainability or call it resilience, the model harkens back a century to when people grew food, heated with wood, made their own hooch and shared their homes.

Nearly 100 years ago my Sicilian great-grandmother Mary Ann ran a boarding house in Dallas Texas. This was one way of getting by back then. You gardened, cooked, cleaned and did laundry for your family and your roomers. I imagine Mary Ann’s world was small, and what was happening on the other side of the world wasn’t too much of a threat.

Our work at The Plant involves shepherding a distillery through their first years, supporting two farms, a fuel-maker and a nonprofit whose mission is “to cultivate and celebrate community resilience.” All of us working together are consciously creating a local economy that is more reciprocal and enduring than the global model. Our work seems purposeful and real.

At home, we have twelve quarts of sauerkraut and a big box of Bob’s sweet potatoes to help us through winter. Next door Haruka and Jason are preparing for their annual rice sale tomorrow while another neighbor finishes work on a hen pen before bringing home a flock of layers. Zoila stopped by with some locally made goat cheese so we gave her a bottle of local port. Lyle came by with pecans he picked off the ground and we sent him away with cheese.

We are secure in our friendships, making it easy to turn away from the news. The world situation inspires us to work in the garden, put up cabbage, bake bread and trade with the neighbors. And maybe one day we will follow in my great-grandmother Mary Ann’s footsteps and open up our house to lodgers.

1920 census

By Camille Armantrout

Camille lives with her soul mate Bob in the back woods of central North Carolina where she hikes, gardens, cooks, and writes.

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