In this Spring of the year, I have yet to get to any Spring Cleaning in my home, but for the last ten days, I’ve been sweeping out and redecorating and organizing our rooms and gardens at Wisteria & Sunshine. One of the more challenging tasks (because it wasn’t arranging words and pictures!) was the paring down of our categories and getting all of the almost 1200 posts settled back into them.
I was able to pare them down to ten, but there amongst the Rose Hips, Winged Hearth, Papery Days, Gleanings categories, I found “Small Ways.” Back in January of 2012, just before I opened the doors to Wisteria & Sunshine for the first time, I wrote this about the category that is really the heart of what we are about…
“This is the place we will explore living more lightly upon the Earth, something I have been working on since I planted my first little vegetable garden in 1986…even before that, as I think about it. Making the choice to become a vegetarian in 1981 was probably the very beginning of making connections with what I did in my little home-sphere and the people and the creatures and the planet that surrounded me. And just as my eating has changed and evolved over the years (and will continue to!) so can the ways we learn to keep our homes…with less plastic, less thrown away, less to care for and store, less time spent consuming and more time enjoying the beauty and tactile pleasure of more traditional and earthy things and ways.
These are the sorts of things that in the best of times, we learn from a visit to a friend’s house…I hope it will feel like that here. And even online, it can feel like that, with so many wonderful and helpful blogs and lists out there. But I have found that it can be overwhelming to have so much good information. And that sometimes, in spite of all the good information and good intentions, nothing much changes. That is why my approach is very gentle, with little piece by little piece falling into place and staying there. Our Small Ways will most often dovetail with what we are working on each month…but not always…we shall leave room for inspiration.”
And as I was sorting those posts, I became uncomfortably aware that it had been a few months since I had shared a Small Ways post…and that I hadn’t added any new small ways to the circles of cooking and tending and shopping and creating which turn in the cosmos of my domestic sphere. It is natural to have fallow times, but when the pause is borne of overwhelm and just getting out of the habit of things, I find that taking a step back on to the path can set things in motion again in a gentle way.
What got me going again began with my Daybook. The $3.00 thrift store purse I’ve been using for the last few years, didn’t hold the Daybook well, nor did it feel like a pleasure putting it there. It had served me well, but was undeniably past its prime…the woven grass on its sides unraveling, the fabric inside beginning to pill and the straps a shadow of their former selves. My small collection of handbags, bought from Target years ago or given to me even longer ago had no likely candidates for replacement…too small, too large, to flimsy…nothing that would hold my Daybook nicely and securely.
A few thrift store browses weren’t successful, so I knew that meant shopping, not something I relish. I didn’t even think of shopping in person anywhere, because I knew my purse-to-be would have to be as earth-friendly as possible. I wanted it to become my One Handbag as the Daybook has become my One Notebook (simplicity!). So I hied myself to the computer, in spare moments, and slowly discovered that the options are few. No organic cotton handbags could I find, and only a few hemp ones that were too unstructured. I was at a loss until I stumbled upon a shop on Etsy that makes handbags out of cork. Cork, you may know, is nearly endlessly renewable as the bark is carefully gathered from trees that renew themselves and live for hundreds of years.
After some back and forth with the helpful owner of the shop, when I was debating buying some organic fabric for the lining and shipping it to her in the UK to use in my bag, I decided to go with some fabric she already had on hand as the best approach. I’ve had the bag for a month or so now, and it truly is my One Bag…just the right amount and placement of pockets, the cork is a wonderful combination of soft and firm, and it hangs on my shoulder or from my hand in just the right way. I hope to have it for years and years to come.
So, birthday money well spent and me back on the path of seeking out Small Ways. I’ll be back to sharing them at Wisteria & Sunshine now, too, and am already rejoicing in the kitchen trash that is taking longer to fill up again, and my plans for some Springlike napkins to be made from a stained tablecloth I remember is waiting in the attic. In the usual way of things, as my Daybook in all its earthy charm led me to wanting a fitting traveling home for it, taking that step in the right direction set me back on the path I long to stay on…however imperfectly…