Approximately two weeks ago:
I was sitting in my very favorite independent bookstore enjoying a cup of coffee and a sneak preview of the book I would soon buy, when my favorite independent bookstore owner introduced me to a gentleman I shall not soon forget.
Could I get more vague than that?
Okay, so it was Guatemalan, locally roasted, with a couple of splashes of half-n-half. The book was (frantically searching memory and cluttered desktop) "Bread Alone," by Judith Ryan Hendricks, "an imaginative debut novel." The bookstore was The Bookmine, a most delicious meeting of old friends, plants, books, overstuffed chairs and coffee, found only on a Main Street near me. The owner, Gayle, is one a pair of sisters whom I've known since I was smaller than Grace Hannah is now. Twenty minutes in The Bookmine is better than eight hours at the ocean -- and I usually choose the ocean over anywhere when it's time to recharge.
So when Gayle wanted to introduce me to someone, I of course paid attention to her words. Mind you, these amazing women know everyone, and love to matchmake friendships and business deals and furniture swaps. They'll change your baby's diaper for you if you're deep in conversation. They'll not only let you use their phone, they'll dial it for you and help you pass the time pinching back African Violets until your ride arrives. They are the heart of a small town near me.
It turned out that Gayle's friend is a retired gentleman who wants some ghostwriting done. He lent me a book and gave me a list of web addresses to get a feel for his cause. This is how I came to read "Urban Homesteading" by Erik Knutzen and Kelly Coyne. They also have a blog. It's often funny, as I mentioned two days ago, but it's more than funny. The book is, in my opinion, essentially political, but the authors prefer the idea that it harkens back to a time when people used common sense and ingenuity more than money. It's something of a how-to book for folks who might like to live a "back to the land" lifestyle, only in the city.
In "Urban Homesteading," one can learn, among many other things: how to make a windowsill or patio garden, how to construct grey water or rain water collection systems, how to eat with the seasons, and in general how to rely a lot less on traditional packaged goods and the whole packaged lifestyle. Plus, it's pretty funny. The writing is snappy and conversational, and the writers are keenly aware that some of the ideas they present are less mainstream than the others -- building your own composting toilet from a five-gallon bucket and some peat moss, for instance.
Okay, so I'm all about a literally green lifestyle, but I'm not doing that.
The other day I was throwing a blog post up because I haven't been very good about keeping in touch with you all. I mentioned this book without naming its authors, and they definitely deserve attribution. And then (it gets worse, the self-flagellation and retraction-type stuff) I realized that I sounded awfully snarky and judgmental about what vehicle or attire a drop-in visitor might choose. She was such a lovely person! And I don't say that because I found out she's my second cousin. (Just kidding. I have no idea who she is.)
Y'all (borrowing Barb's Southern charm, hoping it works for me) can stop in anytime, in real life or in bloglife. Wearing your jeans or your stilletos... or both. Bringing your liberal politics or conservative... or both. I'll change your baby for you if you're deep in conversation, and I'll let you use my phone while I make some iced tea.
I want to live the currently popular and politically correct "green lifestyle" whether it's in fashion or not. But more than that, I want my life to be alive and growing and, you know, fruitful. I think of my beloved friends at The Bookmine, and I know the harvest of their (still young) lives is deep friendships and great loyalties. Yeah, I want to be green. I want to recycle, use my clothesline, walk to the post office and dig in my garden 10 months of the year... and "I want to live in the house by the side of the road and be a friend to man."
And now I want to go Google that quote so I can properly give attribution.