From the beginning, we’re all searching for our happy. We look for it from our parents, then our teachers and friends and finally, the razzle dazzle of the world outside. Almost inevitably, we all decide that we need more things, shinier baubles, glitzier clothes, bigger digs to get to the happy place we see glistening in glossy magazines and on TV shows.
So we go to law school, or go for our MBA, or just dive into 70-hour work weeks, a slave to our smartphones, just so we can hope to someday afford to buy a bigger apartment into which we can place more impressive works of Bauhaus furniture, complicated post-modern artwork that we don’t understand or like but feel we should, closets full of designer goodies.
But somehow, the constant striving becomes our lives, and suddenly … all of the energy we’re expending to stock up future parcels of happiness is wiping out any chance of happiness in the here and now. Stressful days and nights turn into bad weeks, terrible months, years that streak by in blurs under florescent lights.
When I got into a bad car accident more than a year ago, Stephen and I totally reassessed our lives, where we were going, how we lived, what we wanted. Recovering from the accident was (and still is) one of the hardest things I’ve done, but it’s given us a rare opportunity to live day-to-day, to try to focus on the little, silly things in front of us, instead of the improbable goals we had when we first got married, like retiring to Tahiti at 50 to sell smoothies out of a truck on the beach (it could happen!).
We closed the door on New York City and decided to move to the country. So far, so good.
Living closer to the natural rhythms of the earth, and ignoring the glittering distractions of la vida loca seems so much easier out here. Surrounded by towering evergreens, chittering squirrels, howling coyotes, packs of deer and hordes of field mice and frogs (and that’s just in our backyard), living and eating seasonally and locally seem obvious, instead of the intellectual / analytical project it became while we were living in Brooklyn, and even White Plains.
It has its downside too though — it’s Fall, so all kinds of critters are attempting to hole up in our house. On Saturday, Stephen bludgeoned two invading field mice to death with a shovel – that’s the kind of environmental stewardship and locavore spirit I knew I married him for. I’m looking forward to his next business trip, when Penny and I will be forced to deal with Franny the Field Mouse, Sammy the Salamander and Sonya the Squirrel by ourselves.
This is when the gun my Uncle Tom offered me would have come in handy. (Thoughts on mouse confit? Mouse mousse? Mouse stew? That has a nice ring to it…)
The family we bought our place from has been amazingly helpful in getting us situated; from the horror stories I heard, I was mentally prepared for a set of nine-headed monsters to emerge at the house closing, dragging primordial ooze in their wake. But instead, I got a giant packet of invaluable tips, a map of trails around the home and about a dozen contacts for a dog walker, a veterinarian, oil guy, chimney sweep, you name it.
Stephen and I are still waiting to find a pile of bodies buried in the basement or a forgotten stash of used torture devices. In the meantime, I’m going to keep enjoying the goodwill they showered us with.
These days, instead of staring at the shining windows at Saks that house a bunch of stuff that I’ll never be able to afford (and somehow makes me feel incompetent because I can’t) on the way to work, I’ve put heading over to the farm and picking up a few boxes of just-cut produce with tiny clods of dirt still clinging to their roots on my agenda.
Per the former house-owners tip, I bought into a CSA over at Cascade Farm School. I am spending less than I would at Whole Foods, but getting more organic, sustainably grown produce than I know what to do with (literally).
This week, I got about a dozen different vegetables, including carrots, herbs, a cooking pumpkin and a bunch of gorgeously colorful turnips.
I wasn’t sure what to do with the pumpkin, and I didn’t feel like making a pie, so I decided … pilaf. The pumpkin was much easier to peel and chop than butternut squash, and sweeter too. Who knew? Click on for my Carrot and Turnip Soup and Pumpkin Pilaf recipes.