Sunday, August 12, 2012

Porch Reading

A week ago, we'd have been coming back down to sea level.  My spouse drove down the mountain, much of the way in neutral gear.  It was early on a Sunday, and we were the only ones on the road--why not see how fuel efficient we could be?

Throughout the week, I have missed this porch:

I have missed the peace that comes from unplugging.  I have missed the cool breeze whispering across the mountains.  I have missed the hours that I had to read last week-end.

First I read Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451.  I'd have rather read The Martian Chronicles, but my colleague REALLY wanted me to read her copy of Fahrenheit 451, so much that she brought it to work and pressed it into my hands.  So, I did.

Much as in high school, I liked it, but it will never be my favorite Bradbury book.  I loved the ending, the vagabonds on the highway, the exiled intellectuals, the ones who have memorized books.

Then I turned my attention to The Bucolic Plague.  What a treat of a book!  A gay couple from Manhattan stumbles across a derelict but beautiful farm for sale.  It's only 4 hours away from their Manhattan apartment.  They can be gentleman farmers!  While keeping their day jobs that pay them so well! There's a quirky town nearby!  And you can well imagine that there will be goats, and there will be chickens, and there will be vegetables.

What sticks with me:  these two men had lots of talents and resources.  Yet when their Etsy type goat soap business takes off, they, too, have trouble filling orders.  When I think of the kind of do-it-yourself kind of alternate lives I want to create, it bogs down at the supply side.  Once, when I was really enjoying making baby quilts, I thought about how many I'd need to sell in a year, just to cover my very most basic living expenses and my supplies, if I quit my day job.  I knew how long it took me to make a baby quilt.  I did the math and determined that even if I had the demand for all those baby quilts, I'd have to quilt 12-15 hours a day to make enough baby quilts.

There is absolutely nothing I like to do so much that I want to do it 12 hours a day, every day of the week.  Nothing.

This book both made me want a farm of my own, and reminded me of all the ways that having a week-end farm 4 hours away is tough.  It would be tougher for me:  my family income is considerably smaller, for starters.  I can't be sure that I would find the competent caretaker that they did.

Then I turned my attention to Blood, Bones, and Butter.  I loved parts of it:  the growing up in the 1970's, the kindnesses shown to her by grown ups in Europe contrasted with the grimness of the youth hostels, the starting of her own restaurant.  The end left me with more questions than answers.  Was her marriage saved? 

I've never had any illusions about cooking for a living.  I like to cook for myself and the people I love.  But I see being a chef as a grueling job.  All those hours on one's feet!

I do love reading about cooking, about farming, about restoring houses.  I do love reading books, like Bradbury's, that make me appreciate my current life.  I do worry that at some point I'll look back at my current life with wistful sighs.  I hope that my future life contains even more delights than my current life.  But my summer of apocalyptic reading cautions other outcomes could come crashing down on our heads.

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