As a child, I loved crawling between sheets taken from the clothes line just hours before my bedtime. I would fall asleep with the smell of sunshine and the promise of summer in my nose and imagination. As an adult and owning a home in Texas, there was a clothes line in the backyard and I used it often. Towels just felt more absorbent and clothes smelled fresher.
We also had a garden from which we gathered tomatoes, okra, squash, a few cantaloupes, lots of peppers and even a couple of pumpkins. Basil and rosemary grew in abundance. A few times, I tried my hand at canning and freezing. Every year, I dried basil and rosemary. We even had goats and chickens. The goat milk was used for cheese and soap. There were always plenty of eggs to share with family and friends.
When we came to the understanding that God was calling us out of Fort Worth to the Diocese of Missouri, my partner, son and I began a new phase of our lives as renters. We moved from approximately 1800 square feet with a barn plus 9 ½ acres into an apartment of less than 1000 square feet with no yard and definitely no clothes line.
As one can imagine, we did a good bit of spring cleaning – at least three times. We gathered up things we no longer used or didn't want and had a huge yard sale. Sale leftovers went to the local food and clothing bank. Still, with far too much "stuff" we culled again. In that we were transitory for about eight months as we traveled across the U.S. on a speaking tour in between our move from Texas to Saint Louis, space necessitated the demand to get our belongings into a 10 X 20 storage unit with the remainder crammed into a small motor home. It was not an easy task but it certainly made us realize our "need."
Since moving to the city, it seems all the more important to be stewards of this Creation. We continue to recycle but are more conscious that recycling is the last part of the conservation phase. We try hard to watch what we buy, choosing bulk as space will allow rather than the convenience of prepackaged foods. We use glass when possible instead of plastic (petroleum product). Fresh or frozen foods, organic or local as often as affordable are basic choices now. I bake our own bread. Beef is a thing of the past for my family. Fast food is a rare treat for our son. While we may go out to a restaurant occasionally, most meals are cooked at home.
We do well with what we have. Determining need versus desire was the hardest part and we continue to struggle with that. Yet, acknowledging the difference cut out a lot of impulse buying. If we intentionally carry with us the idea that 6 million children die every year because they do not have enough to eat and that U.S. citizens waste more food than some countries ever see, it makes it a bit more difficult to buy that extra pair of shoes or cute little blouse if these are not really necessary. Keeping in mind the knowledge that in our own country extreme poverty is a real dilemma puts a perspective to buying.
I don't feel like a "radical" homemaker and I cannot prove how my family's changes of life have affected the rest of the world at large. But I do know that we can do no less than what we have done. In fact, I know that I must find ways to make more changes.
Global warming and the affects are real. Children dying because of unclean water and unbalanced food availability are real.
What we do does matter. In fact, more importantly, what we don't do matters more.