Saturday, May 2, 2020

Little House on the Salt Marsh

I’ve officially reached the “I’m pretty sure we could live off the grid” state of this experience… is it just me? Can anyone else relate?

I gather my new ambition is a result of a few factors: we’ve planted some seeds, and a few of them are actually budding — I’m feeling confident that our crop will yield more than last year’s (which was roughly 3 tomatoes and 1 sprig of parsley). Also, my 11-year old has been rereading the Little House series, and the kids have subsequently been “playing” Little House. That led to me (on a rainy, particularly challenging “school” day), breaking down and spending $14.99 on the first season of Little House on the Prairie (and then letting them binge-watch it that afternoon, rationalizing that the content is educational). Another obvious factor fueling my current mindset is my reignited mistrust of big corporations (thanks to books and movies like Plastic Purge, Dark Waters, and Poison Squad), because, when I think too hard about it, the thought of what happens to our food before it reaches our plates makes me shudder. Plus, and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit my newfound crush on Michael Landon as Pa is likely part of the appeal. 

So yesterday, when my 7-year old son caught a butterfly with his bare hands, I was feeling really optimistic — I figured those were skills comparable to Pa being able to catch a bear in one of his traps, right? I mean, sure, we wouldn’t be able to feed the family with a butterfly, but it gave me a glimpse of possibility ahead: we could surely live without the conveniences of modern life.

But then it all started to fall apart. The butterfly escaped as he was showing it to his sisters, and since the littlest never got a chance to actually “see” it, she threw a full-out tantrum. I gently encouraged them that they could surely catch another, and while they did give me a little push-back, I left them there outside as I went in to make dinner, confident they’d become re-motivated and capture another in no time.

About five or so minutes passed, and I heard the front door open. From the sound, I knew there were two sets of feet thumping, purposefully, inside to find me: “Did you catch another one?” I asked, cheerfully. It was the oldest two. “NO,” was my ten-year old’s retort: “and my legs are sooooo tired from catching the first one that they hurt. Anyway, there aren’t any other butterflies left.” Her sister joined in, “Can we just find a picture of a yellow butterfly on your computer and print it out to show her? So she can see what it looks like?” I was incredulous. “No! Are you kidding me? What do you think Mary and Laura did if they couldn’t find another butterfly to catch?! They certainly didn’t ask Ma to print one out using a COMPUTER!” But it was too late. I could see from the looks in their eyes that they were over it. “UGHHHH! Mommy, that’s so unfair!” But in return, they could see from the look in my eyes that I wasn’t giving in to the “computer” approach. “Fine, if you won’t let us use the computer, can we just draw one to show Zoe?”

I sighed, looking over at the homemade dinner rolls I had just proudly taken out of the oven, reluctantly admitting to myself that I did, in fact, use the “dough” setting on my bread machine to actually “make” them. I started seeing my future life in homesteading quickly slip away. “Fine,” I said, “draw her a yellow butterfly.” I could live with that compromise.

Ugh. Back to the drawing board, I suppose.

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