green grandparents

“So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.”- William Shakespeare, Sonnet XVIII

The cool breezes forecast last week arrived, as well as some much-needed rain. I am most thankful. The days of summer are fading, and autumn, the time of the harvest, is arising.

As I’ve mentioned previously, my grandparents were farmers, and their life was based on a seasonal cycle. Summer fruits and vegetables were preserved for winter and spring sustenance, stored in reusable glass containers that were placed in the cool, dark basement, until they assumed their residency on the kitchen table. There were actually many household items that relinquished their former use to serve some future purpose, including an assortment of buttons and threads, which I delighted in sorting. What I observed during childhood, but did not note, was how these items were saved, reformed, and reutilized over and over again.  In some aspects, my grandparents and so many of their era, employed many elements of the “green” lifestyle. I suppose it has been from these memories that some of my recent activities have been born. 

One cool morning while I assessed my day’s activities, my attention was drawn to the few herbs I had remaining in my patio garden. Knowing their life span was waning, I decided to harvest some for the crafting of herb vinegars. Formerly this endeavor encompassed the buying of lovely containers, but in the last year or two, I began saving an assortment of wine and vinegar bottles for this purpose. Their simple lines were pleasing, and their clear or color-tinged glass better reflected any handcrafted contents.  Additionally, these recycled bottles could be easily transformed with a bottle sleeve made from remnants of paper, buttons, and thread—a green act for gifting or enjoying.

Although I often draw creative inspiration from the days I spent at my grandparents’ farm, I do not romanticize the life they lived. I know their days were long and required great physical exertion. I also know their efforts were intent on building a better life for the generations to follow. While educations and life-sustaining occupations were built from the foundation they and their ancestors provided, there were other gifts, equally important, that their lifestyle offered. From them, I learned how to honor that which is simple; to further recognize how beauty may arise from the most basic necessities; and how new life may be formed from the remnants of another life. These are lessons, unlike the changing seasons, which never fade.

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