It was well over ten years that we had the most severe drought. Each winter I'd pray for rain, each winter it failed to come. The summers were harsh, the bush dried out and sure enough the devastating bush fires come and went taking both human lives and homes, to be lost forever. The public feeling seemed to be united. The general consensus was the drought, the worst in living memory, appeared to be directly linked to climate change. It felt like the people were aware of the impact their lives had and thus where keen to make change in order to make things right. Times got desperate. The cities water supply was at a never before seen low of 13%. Gardens were parched from years of weak rainfall. The conversation often revolved around how hard things had become, how we could make changes to survive with this new outlook and future of living with drought. Then the drought broke. The rain came and came. That first summer of rain wreaked havoc with farmer's crops. The rain washed the dust from the city streets, as it washed the relevance of climate change from the face of the media. The topic took a back seat to more important issues like economic rationalism, bikie wars and the ever important reviews of popular reality television. The environment issue slipped down the ladder of public care.
It was during the drought that I started making changes in the way I lived. There came a time where I realised that in some way I was contributing to the environment's problems. My consuming was exhausting nature. I wasnt sure exactly what I needed to do, I just knew it had to be something, because once I knew about the issues surrounding our way of living I couldn't un-know that information. It was stuck with me.
What a journey its been.
There has been so many things for me to learn and discover. So many experiences and quite a few spectacular moments of failure. What I find most encouraging is that I'm still on that learning path. I'm still a student of change. Every now and then I'll pick up some new skill, some new approach to living that reduces my reliance on the commercial food system that's responsible for so much pollution, carbon emissions and unethical treatment of animals. You can't deny these problems exist. You can pretend they don't exist but they'll still there, hidden behind clever marketing and shiny packaging. I often get told that I should stick to telling stories about hunting and building log cabins instead of complaining about our environment. That I should close my mouth about the unsightly impact our lives have on the natural world, that I should instead focus on the man stuff that's slightly entertaining like fly fishing tales or talking about what gear I use. But I cannot be this person. Instead I write what is on my mind, even though it often lands me hot curry.
This week I made chorizo from the meat of the pig we were gifted. As I concentrated on the process I thought about how I would write about the experience. How it would be an interesting post to share with people. Look guys! I learnt a new skill, a new sausage recipe! Aren't I clever! After all the mince had been squished through the hand crank sausage stuffer I took my bounty of chorizo out to hang with my two legs of jamon already hanging lifeless in the meat safe in the old brick shed. I hung the meat, closed the door to the hanging frame and starred for a few minutes at my curing meat. Home made jamon and chorizo. A little bit of pride snuck in, with a humph of self approval. It was at that moment I asked myself "Why do you do any of this?" "Why not just buy it?"
For so long now I've been embedded in a way of life that demands so much of the individuals input. Along the way I guess I seemed to have lost myself in the process of things. The seasonality of living. The summer grows the food for the winter, winter starts the whole cycle again. It was the freshly hung chorizo that reminded me of why I do what I do. That I've chosen a life of simplicity and self reliance because I want to remove myself from 'the system' the latter of which I'm convinced is eating away at everything good in this world. I chose the difficult path. A path where I try my best to cast less impact, but also a life where I have to accept that I will still have some impact. A life where I acknowledge that its not about having zero impact, more so it's about a reduction of impact. Of wanting less. Of living with, and living with out. It's give and take, take and give. As long as the cycle is a closed one, all should be fine.
My chorizo will feed us many a meal. Eventually I will dispense with this recipe, reinvent it and start all over again. I will sometimes get lost in the process, but I'll never forget why I'm doing it. Thats the reason for everything.