I am a work in progress. And I’d like to take a time machine to 1871. That’s all.

River quote small

It feels like it has been a million years since I’ve had – count them – TWO whole hours by myself to sit down and give my favorite little blog some love and attention. I have shipped my sweet little people back off to school (by ship, I mean they are a half a mile away expanding their minds for six hours a day).

This is really great news for me, because my head cannot hold all the fun food thoughts and ideas that come and go throughout the day. I have wished I could remember them in the few minutes a week I gazed adoringly at my computer this summer.

But I am a work in progress, and progress we shall make!

Everywhere I look, I see things I would like to do better, would like to learn more about, would like to try. It can be maddening. Luckily my hope is to live long and prosper, so I have time to explore all the things I can imagine plus more.

One of the things I will remember most about this summer is reading “Little House in the Big Woods” to my six-year-old. We cuddled up at night and I would read a chapter or two. She loved Laura’s story of homesteading in 1871 – her chores, her dog Jack, Pa’s fiddle, and her rag doll. Yes, yes, that’s all very sweet and fun.

But for me, I couldn’t help but be completely enthralled and fascinated by Ma and Pa and all they did to eat (and avoid bears, but that’s only because bears freak me out). Ma and Pa were so connected to the land and the rhythms of the seasons. They had such reverence and understanding of the animals. I can’t forget the image of Pa “hunting” by sitting up in a tree on a moon lit night NOT shooting a bear because the woods were so peaceful that he forgot all about the gun.

Ma and Pa’s foresight, planning, and plain old hard work is inspiring. It makes my meal planning, lame ol’ herb garden, Community Supported Agriculture subscription, and beef share seem like whoppy-freakin-doo.

And the way they celebrated maple syrup season (with big parties), finding honey (with all-you-could-eat-buffets), and buying a candy from the town store (never to eat it, because it was too pretty and special), made me realize that my own culture’s preoccupation with sugar comes from these roots. We just have too much of the sugar and not enough of the planning and hard work for the other 99% of the food we should be eating. It’s hard to celebrate a piece of candy when you get 35 in a bag and you get a bag every few days — or whatever our sugar of choice looks like.

Anywho… I’m rambling because it was awesome, thought-provoking and in many ways I’d love to see the world a little closer to the 1871-Wisconsin-Big Woods version, instead of the one we’ve managed to create. I could do without the bears, but I’d throw a sweet Maple Syrup Party. And you’d all be invited.

Like I said, I’m a work in progress and if you are too then I think you’ll enjoy the future of the Lean.Green.Kitchen. Thanks for being a part of the progress.


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6 thoughts on “I am a work in progress. And I’d like to take a time machine to 1871. That’s all.

  1. I’m with you! I really love reading the Ox Cart Man with my son, a tale of a family’s connection to their food and land year round. I bet they had maple syrup parties too. Looking forward to a celebratory Fall!

  2. I’d for sure die of frost bite in 1871…but it does sound like a better time, I wish I ate more simply, and lived more simply too. Love reading with the kiddos…JJ is just starting the Harry Potter books.

  3. We are all a constant work in progress…although I wouldn’t mind rewinding to simpler times. I remember my Great Aunt Rose ( who is born in 1899 and the oldest is 9 children) shared with me that every Sunday was bread day. she would make bread to last the entire week and as a special treat would make donuts

  4. For me, you bring back memories of snuggling with my little lady reading and listening to her read the Little House books. Sweet, like maple syrup and you can never have too much! Always fun to read your thoughtful take on the simple (and not so simple) things…

  5. I believe we are all a constant work in progress although I wouldn’t mind rewinding back to “simpler” times. I remember my Great Aunt Rose ( who is born in 1899, oldest as nine children and wjose mother died when she was 13) shared with me that every Sunday was bread day. she would make enough bread the last the entire week and as a special treat would make donuts. I suppose we would appreciate bread and donuts a little more if we had to open the entire day making them. thanks for your post JenN

  6. Thanks to everyone for sharing special family moments. Visiting my grandparents on their Ohio farm always gave me an appreciation for being self-reliant, hard working and cooking simple hardy meals. I loved breakfasts on the farm. Jenn’s great grandma Koerner would get up early every morning to make the most satisfying dense buttermilk bran muffins… she never even used a muffin tin, just spooned them on a cookie sheet. A drizzle of honey on top was all they needed before we devoured them. Even in the early 1960’s she was convinced that everyone needed to have more fiber in their diet.

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