March 14, 2018

Good-bye Snowshoes, Hello Maple Syrup

A Nova Scotia maple syrup operation.

What a winter. Unlike the previous several winters, this winter had a marked lack of snow. While it was nice to have milder temperatures, I prefer being able to play in deep snow all winter long. That was not to be this year.

After only 5 snowshoeing adventures earlier this winter, it looks like the season is drawing to an unnaturally early close. You know it is not long for winter when the maple syrup season begins, and producers here in Nova Scotia are saying this is the earliest start in decades.

Even in an ordinary year, maple syrup is the earliest agricultural activity around here. For maple sap gathering to begin, the weather must be below freezing at night, and above freezing during the day. These conditions are usually experienced some time around the beginning in March.

This year some maple tappers were done by mid February, and this is the third year in a row that saw earlier starts than the average.

Canada has a long history of maple syrup production. Indigenous peoples showed early settlers how to harvest and boil the sap. The fourth moon of the year in late March early April, was known as Izhkigamisegi Geezis, "the boiling moon", to the Obijway people.

I am thinking that might have to be changed to the third moon of the year.

Climate changes will require us to adapt to all manner of new conditions. This is what some in the area think is likely to occur:

"Scientists expect Nova Scotia to see more powerful storms, rising sea levels, storm surges, extreme precipitation, flash flooding, loss of sea ice, and hotter, drier summers and wetter, warmer winters."

And a earlier, shorter maple syrup season. And summer droughts. Researchers didn't give their outlook for snowshoeing, but I can see that I will probably have to find a different winter exercise activity.

Oh, my snowy woods. I miss you already. The woods will have less snow, and more ticks, and that will not be the worst of it. We are headed into uncharted climate and ecological territory, providing even more reasons to live a more simple, low carbon, low on the food chain, local lifestyle.

But the good news is that I can visit my neighbour down the road for fresh maple syrup a couple of weeks earlier than usual. That seems like a small consolation, but I do try to celebrate the little things.

How long, I wonder, before I will be able to grow my own rice?

March 12, 2018

5 Potential Drawbacks Of Simple Living

Drawback #2: The freedom, at first, could be overwhelming.

When I think about the potential drawbacks of simple living I am tempted to think that there aren't any. But of course there are. There are pros and cons to just about everything, so I wracked my brain to see if I could come up with a few cons. Note: the pros are easier to come up with.

Drawbacks of Simple Living

  1. You might save too much money.
  2. The freedom, at first, could be overwhelming.
  3. Someone might tell you that their mom would think you are "lazy". (This really happened to me.)
  4. Friends and family could conclude that you are "cheap", and tell you that you should buy some new shit to replace your worn out, dated, old shit. (This really happened to an NBA reader who commented on such a scenario this week.)
  5. If everyone did it the economy could collapse... causing wholesale changes in the way we do things economically, politically, socially and culturally.

I guess it is kind of like when in a job interview the H.R. person asks you what your weaknesses are. After thinking, "I don't really have any", you end up saying something like, "Sometimes I am too loyal to my employer and I work too hard". 

But we all have weaknesses, and simple living is no different. Although, from my point of view, #5 isn't really a drawback at all. Actually, it is one major reason why I live the way I do. It would be great to see some wholesale structural changes in how we do things. The disruption would be worth it many times over.

I find that most other people don't see it this way. 

And #3 and 4 are really only drawbacks if you give a shit what other people think about the way that you choose to live your life. I think that drawing such a strong reaction from other people probably indicates that you are doing something right.

Or I guess you could just avoid the hassle, relent, kiss your integrity goodbye, and start working longer hours, borrowing more money, and buying more stuff. That would make other people feel better, because if they have to play this losing game, you should have to as well. Otherwise it isn't fair.

On the other hand, if you stick to your guns and maintain your simplicity, you might find it lonely. This can be a serious and genuine drawback to a simple lifestyle. Since so few in consumer economies choose to live in this way, many will not share your zeal for a minimal, peaceful life away from the madness and rush of the consumer competition. Estrangement may be a reality.

That is one reason that I keep this blog - we simple folk need to support each other. I do feel supported by all of you. Thank you. I hope you feel the same.

In conclusion, I must report that on my Simple Living Pros vs Cons list, the Pros column is still much, much longer than the cons side. Results in your particular circumstance may vary.

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