Man cannot live on blackberries alone. Can he? I know I can’t. So while I collect them by the kilo and have big plans to experiment with my first unquestionably real homesteading project, making blackberry wine, I fully realize it is all just frivolous fun.
I do, after all, have a keenly developed palette and a natural aptitude for the finer things, not necessarily in possessions, but absolutely in experiences. I like my vodka from Russia, my cheese from France, my smoked salmon from Norway, where else? I can only appreciate Spain and Cape Cod in the off-season. In fiction I read the classics over what’s popular, and in films I prefer foreign over blockbuster.
What I have always liked to call distinguished taste or unusually high standards and expectations, my mom has sometimes referred to as a sense of entitlement. As if that is a negative thing! But what one culture might call snobbery, another calls gourmet. And one man’s privilege is another man’s nightmare.
It’s true, when it comes down to what I want, I want it all. That’s not so unusual, is it? Is that not the American way? So it is with the strictest set of standards that I now boast, I have grown the best arugula and radishes I have ever tasted. What an incredible sense of satisfaction it is to serve them at my table. Now if only I could do without all those other exquisite tastes, we’d be well on our way to self-sufficiency.
On another level, thanks to technology, I feel I have it all. I live in the country, without a neighbor in sight and rarely an unnatural sound to be heard, but still I am connected to all the knowledge of every expert and university, as well as all the friends and family who don’t think I’m nuts, or who maybe do, but love me anyway. Some of these friends, of the former variety, have asked me what the hell I do out here all day long. They know I have no television stations, and no pub, and no real job, and no friends nearby. Before I scratch their name off the Christmas card list I answer: I cut bamboo to make tomato cages; I cook every meal from scratch; I hang the laundry on the line; I read, a lot. And somehow I still find time for cocktail hour while bird watching.
For me this new lifestyle, the simplicity of picking blackberries, the learning curve and aching muscles of gardening, the creativity required to solve simple problems in order to make due rather than to make purchases, none of it has been a sacrifice, not at all. It is the exact opposite, it feels like my greatest privilege and my most satisfying accomplishments. It’s not just what I deserve, but what I have been working my whole life to appreciate. I feel like I am experiencing the very best existence has to offer, and there’s not a day goes by that I don’t thank my lucky stars.