Home-Brewed Beer for Christmas

In my dark winter

Lying ill, at last I ask

How fares my neighbor

–Basho

My neighbors up the road at the Mapleton Trailer Park are living the good life.

My Facebook friends’ well-intentioned reminders to be thankful last week annoyed the hell out of me. They have so much to be thankful for, and I’ve been stuck on the empty side of the half-glass. During this holiday of abundance—my first Christmas as a parent without a paycheck—I’ve been counting reasons to feel sorry for myself (Facebook scrolling among them).

I’m considering downsizing—really downsizing, not just changing my shopping habits.

I might sell my townhouse, and that makes me sad. I’m as attached to this home as I’ve been to any man. My furniture fits perfectly, the sun bathes my living room with light all day, and it has downstairs space for teenagers. It overlooks a grassy field and a working farm, with rolling mountains beyond. I found a penny from the year I was born in my bedroom windowsill when I came for the inspection.

I believed this place was a gift from the universe, and that is a bad idea.

My home has become a source of comfort and a source of stress. (The word pharmakon, remedy and poison, explains this, and many things in my life are like that.) What seemed an entirely manageable mortgage when I was making a good living covering the small house and simple living movements at Natural Home and Mother Earth News now feels burdensome.

I admired and befriended so many people who were living my simple-life dream while I was at Natural Home. Far too busy putting out magazines to actually live the good life, I figured I would grow my own food and live off the grid in a mortgage-free tiny house once my kids and their corporate paycheck-size needs had moved on.

“I figured” is another one of those universe triggers.

This Christmas I have more time than money. I need to make gifts and keep holiday costs down because every last-minute spree to guarantee a happy Christmas morning is a direct bite out of my grow-my-own-off-the-grid fantasy.

The universe laughs at me and and hands me pieces.

This week I had lunch with a friend of a friend in the sunny kitchen of the “metal box in the middle of a garden” that he lives in at the Mapleton Trailer Park. Gene is living the dream that I peered into and wrote about during my Natural Home and Mother Earth News years. He grows most of his own food and fills his pantry with his harvest. He makes wine, mead, beer and kombucha.

Gene said he would show me how to grow, preserve and ferment—skills I’ve admired but never had time to hone—and sent me home with Ball jars full of delicious things and a little bag of snacks that he ‘d invented in his dehydrator.

When the student is ready, the proverb says, the teacher will appear.

My friends might get home-brewed beer for Christmas.

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One Response to Home-Brewed Beer for Christmas

  1. Karen says:

    This needs further thought. Think Mexico!

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