For a few wonderful years when I was a tiny little child, around pre-school time, my sisters and I lived with my Mom's sister & her family in Portland, Oregon. We all lived in a whimsical old three-story house, painted light blue, with a big porch out front with a wooden swing. There was a costume box in the attic of my Mother's old clothes that we used to play dress up with, a huge 1970-esque mural (painted years prior by my artist Mother) in our shared bedroom, a piano in the family room (which I looked forward to learning how to play one day when I grew up, but we ended up moving on to another home before that ever happened), a "servant's staircase" (did I mention it was a lovely old house) behind the main stairs that was perfect for sneaking into the kitchen late at night for a forbidden spoonful of peanut butter dipped in chocolate chips, and a breathtaking garden in the backyard. Oh that garden. My Aunt Pam knew a thing or two about growing things, let me tell you.
We had it all: carrots & zucchinis & tomatoes, herbs of all sorts, root vegetables and stalky vegetables and leafy vegetables, the works! Each night before dinner, my sisters and I would venture into the garden to pick ingredients for the family. I used to love putting freshly rinsed lettuce into the salad spinner and going to town. Lisa and I would laugh and laugh as it spun faster and faster. Nobody could spin it as fast as Emmy though (granted, she did have four years on me of salad-spinning experience). After dinner we would run into the backyard with our full bellies and swing in the rope hammock that swayed from the trunks of two cherry trees. Those were truly magical years.
And then we moved on, and moved on again, and Portland became a place in my memories. And as I grew I discovered my love of the city; I learned that urban life made me feel truly alive. And so I made NYC my home, with its grit and its bricks and its history. And my daughter was born right in the heart of downtown.
But lately I find myself reminiscing about those homemade, garden-grown, earthy Portland years.
I realize that they aren't so far behind. Here I am, picking up our share of vegetables straight from the farm at our CSA, chatting with the Pennsylvanian organic farmer, who lovingly grows our food, about tomato varieties. I spend quite a lot of time washing and steaming and pureeing Biet's food, everything fresh, everything home-made. It just feels right that way. Our friends thought we were crazy when we told them that we planned to cloth diaper. They said that we'd never make it. But here we are, 12 months and counting.. and rinsing and washing and folding away. And now I've begun a new endeavor: to eliminate all pre-made food from our home. I will be rinsing and soaking and boiling a variety of beans and grains each week so that we'll always have whole foods in our home, ready to go and made with love.
Gaby calls me a hippy Mama. He tells me all the time "I love that you're a hippy Mama." And I always brush it off as Gaby being sweetly dramatic. Because I am a city girl. A city girl who just happens to enjoy sustainable ways of life. Then our neighbors invited us to help create a garden in the lot out front of our limestone, and I jumped with joy. Finally, I will grow my very own carrots! Eureka!
A. City. Girl... who just happens to view carrot-growing as the highlight of her summer.. who encourages her daughter to crawl around naked and eat grass in the backyard (I mean, how many years do you really have to enjoy doing that before it becomes slightly inappropriate).. who foresees the day when home-prepared beans and grains will be joined by home-jarred pickles and jams and hand-ground flours (ok.. getting a little carried away).
A girl who loves the city and loves her family and loves to homestead. A girl who can't forget the simple magic and wonder of picking your own vegetables for dinner. A girl who is a Mama and who wants to pass on that magic and wonder to her daughter.
I guess I'll call myself an urban homesteader in training.. who's looking forward to learning a lot this summer.