Earlier this year, blogger Kathy Harrison sent this peice in…but because the thoughts are so apropos to the season, I’ve held it until this week. So you’ll see references to spring (which is 87 days away!), and gardening. But what I’d like you to focus on is the wealth of community, and thanks for abundance and a good life. It’s what my co-workers and I at Lehman’s wish for you in the coming year.
—Karen Johnson, Editor, Lehman’s Country Life
I have a very good life. I write about in books and in blogs and in letters to friends. I sometimes get replies that congratulate my on my good fortune. And I am truly fortunate in many ways. I’m healthy. I live in a place untouched by war or horrible poverty. Our climate is good for growing things and we have no water worries. Our soil is excellent and we have plenty of native pollinators. For the blessings, I am truly grateful.
However, much of my life is blessed, not with good fortune but with the joy of hard work. Take this week’s adventures in cheese-making. It began with the gift of extra raw milk. I am very lucky to live in a place that does not outlaw the sale of raw milk. But that gift comes with the necessity of keeping up the pressure on state and local government to support local farmers.
The milk was given to me by a friend who was going to be out of town and offered me her milk share in exchange for driving her to the bus station. I used the milk cultures I bought in bulk with another friend and it was pressed with a cheese press I bought co-operatively with yet another friend. This circle of good deeds and sharing is not written down and no records are kept. We freely gift each other. However, if I didn’t do my fair share of the gifting I would soon be left out of the loop.
I mentioned to a new neighbor that I was pressing cheese and he asked if he could come over to look at our press so he could decide if buying one was a good option for him. While visiting he happened to mention that he had an extra spring lamb. The deal was struck and last night he delivered our lamb, freezer ready. Before the lamb arrived I had to spend several hours rearranging our three freezers and making room.
Finding time for this chore was a trick as, simultaneously, we were building a new pen for our pigs. It is a much better space for them but required an investment of time, money and energy. The gift of good food is not a gift at all but payment for many hours of hard work and the investment of much of our family’s treasure.
In my busy life, I carve out time for community service. This lovely community comes with the price tag of commitment to the necessary tasks of keeping the place running. There are so many things yet to be done at the house but I’m committed a church retreat. And that’s the truth of a good life. It’s a series of choices about how we spend our time and our money. The life we build is up to us.