October 31, 2017

Snapping Turtle Nest

Ever since seeing my first Snapping Turtle in July two years ago, I have wanted to see a Snapping Turtle nest. This year, while on an October hike in the woods, I got my wish.

At first I was not sure what I was seeing. My eye was drawn by white bits on the trail. Upon closer inspection, they turned out to be creamy white ping-pong sized shell remains, exactly as described in my online research of these large turtles.

Sure enough, close by was the nest, the hatchling hole. It was in a well-drained, south facing site, perfect for incubating 25-30 turtle eggs.

Next October, or perhaps in the spring if a nest overwinters, I hope to see the event as it is occurring. What a sight to see a new generation starting out, the individuals of which could live 40 years in these woods.

Go little turtles, Go!

October 29, 2017

An Experiment In Local Living

We moved from the city to this location, then stayed for 9 years. Right here on the Pacific Ocean beach.

Travel is fun. I have done a fair amount of it myself. Before I quit, the knowledge that carbon-based travel is harmful to people and other living things, started to erode at the fun I was having. It felt selfish for me to get my jollies at the expense of everything else.

It was time for an experiment in local living. Few things will rehabilitate your carbon footprint as much as adopting a local lifestyle.

In 2005 Linda and I decided that instead of living in the city, and leaving for more beautiful natural surroundings every chance we got, that we would move somewhere beautiful and tranquil enough that we wouldn't want to leave.

We found our spot on the west coast of Canada, on Vancouver Island. While there, I met a neighbour who said how much she was enjoying staying home. She hadn't left the neighbourhood for several years, not even into the closest town of 10,000 that was a only a few kilometres away. I was kind of blown away.

From a travel-obsessed North American perspective, her lesson in locality seemed outrageous. But I respected her for having such simple needs, as well as an obvious ability to be satisfied with little. I Then I thought, "Isn't that the global human experience, outside of over-consuming rich nations?"

I can't confirm this, but I imagine the majority of humans on Earth rarely go more than a few kilometres from home in their lifetime. And if they do go away, travel is probably in the form of walking, biking, bus, or train. Or donkey, or camel, not an internal combustion toxin factory.

More than likely their travel is also done for more important reasons than, "I was bored".

Some people will say that travel is in our DNA, as justification for their jet-setting, globe-trotting wanderlust. Indeed, that may be the case.

It was "discovered in 1999 by scientists at UC Irvine, DRD4-7R may be responsible for influencing people to do a number of behaviors. People expressing this allele of the Dopamine Receptor D4 gene seem to get a hit of dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with reward, when they try new experiences."

However, even if this was reflective of reality, researchers say that only 20% of humans possess gene DRD4-7R, the "Itchy Feet Gene", if you will. Are the rest of us homebodies?

Is there a gene shared by 80% of us that gives a hit of dopamine when we are comfortable in familiar surroundings? When we are satisfied with the magical discoveries that can occur even in small spaces? When we are satisfied with less.

We enjoy traveling, and if we could catch a train close to home, we would roll right on now and then. What we didn't expect, is that we enjoy not traveling about as much. Living a local lifestyle is unfortunately under-rated in place where corporations have taken over.

How can you get people to buy goods and services if they can't be pried out of their comfy refuges from the madness? It is profitable to convince you that all the good stuff is "out there" somewhere. In some mythical, crystal, consumer heaven where you can buy happiness through perpetual motion and money spending.

My experiment has taught me that if I do have the wanderlust gene, I can satisfy it by hiking in the back yard woodlot for an hour or two. Besides, using my computer I can travel to almost anywhere, including space.

Conclusion: I don't see many downsides to living a local lifestyle. And I see many benefits, personally and environmentally.

Try it - staying home is the new traveling.

October 24, 2017

Searching For Clarity

This image summarizes this blog nicely.

What is this blog about? Sometimes I don't even know.  Is this a simple living blog? Nature blog? Minimalist blog? Anti-capitalist, or pro-do-your-own-thing blog? How does one tell?

I could look at my label cloud for some ideas, or read and do an analysis of all 1350 post that I have written since 2008. There is another way, and it is quite fun. I am talking about looking at the search words people use.

On the Internet, people are always searching for something.

Using this method, I can see how this blog might differ from the 300 million other blogs out there. This gives me some idea of the focus here, at least from the perspective of search engine algorithms.

Looking at the search words that lead here never fails to surprise me. I am pleased to be associated with the concepts and ideas given in this snapshot of Not Buying Anything.

The following are examples of the most popular searches that landed people at this blog instead of the 299,999,999 other ones on offer these days.

Search Terms That Brought Readers To Not Buying Anything:

  • Are you open to the miraculous?
  • Alternatives to working.
  • Peace.
  • Contentedness.
  • How is advertising based on illusion?
  • A simplified life: tactical tools for intentional living.
  • Ascetic lifestyle.
  • Austere living.
  • Do with less so they'll have enough.
  • Extreme frugal living.
  • Hoarders.
  • Homemade refried beans.
  • Consumerism is killing the earth.

When I look at these searches, it gives me an idea of what I am doing over time on my blog, just in case I feel like I am floundering, or have lost focus.

I think I am on the right track, according to my intended purpose, which has been laid out in our Vision Statement, as well as our Simple Living Manifesto.

One thing I can say for sure - we here at Not Buying Anything are definitely open to the miraculous. We have to be, because it is going to take something akin to a miracle for humanity to get through the coming decades successfully.

It is satisfying to see that "peace" is one of the most popular search terms. I also like "homemade refried beans", as if they are the secret ingredient to making the world a better place.

Are you open to the miraculous? How about to refried beans? World peace? You can find it all right here, whatever here is.

October 20, 2017

Open Your Eyes To Simplicity

"There is nothing you need to achieve.
Just open your eyes."

 - Siddhartha Gautama

We look, but we don't see. We hear, but don't listen. We eat, but don't taste. Touch, but don't feel. We survive, but don't live. Everyone is too busy striving.

Striving to achieve, but achieve what?

A more sincere existence? A better world? Peace? No.

Not in a capitalist consumer culture in which we are trained to strive for other, less honourable manufactured, profitable and ultimately soul destroying desires.

  • Material Success
  • Physical Perfection
  • Power
  • Money
  • Prestige

And of course, More, More, More.

No level of achievement is ever enough, because there is ALWAYS more to buy, consume, and hoard. The thing about the School of Consumerism is that you never graduate. You are never done. You always need to achieve more.

It sounds more like a prison.

We already have everything we need. If you can't be happy with a simple life, you won't be happy with the more complicated consumeristic alternatives either. Quit striving to achieve the things you are told to want, and you break free to live in a more natural, satisfying way.

Open your eyes to the joys of simplicity.

October 19, 2017

Apple Harvest

“Give me spots on my apples.
But leave me the birds and the bees.

- Joni Mitchell

One of the joys of the fall season is harvesting apples. There is nothing quite as invigorating as being out in the crisp, fresh air on a sunny fall day picking organic apples. Free organic apples.

A year ago I discovered an apple tree on the land surrounding my home in rural Nova Scotia. I have been looking forward to this moment since the end of my first harvest. On that harvest I picked a few months worth of apples, an amount that I equalled again this year.

While the two apples pictured above represented the most perfect specimens of the whole lot, most had blemishes of the type you never see in stores. 

The reason store bought apples are so perfect is because they are one of the most sprayed foods in the produce section. Nature is messy, and it takes a lot of poison to clean things up. Those toxic chemicals are not good for people or other living things, like pollinators, so I prefer cleaner, more interesting apples of the organic variety. 

The tree where I gather my apples is an ecosystem to itself. These are not for the exclusive use of human beings, so the fruit is enjoyed by many species. From deer to worms to fungal diseases to birds, many living things live and dine here.

This is no for-profit industrial chemical wasteland. This wild tree is free to feed all that come to it in search of sustenance. Come winter, this apple harvest will be sustaining me.

It doesn't get any fresher than this.

October 16, 2017

Sharing The Wealth

“I saw that the universe is not composed of dead matter,
but is, on the contrary, a living Presence....all things
work together for the good of each and all; that the
foundation principle of the world, or all the worlds,
is what we call love, and that the happiness of each
and all is in the long run absolutely certain.” 

- Richard Maurice Bucke

One of my favourite things about growing a garden is the absolute abundance that flows from mid-summer to well into the fall. To garden is to know true wealth.

If you garden, you find there is more than enough for your own needs. You find that nature loves life, and that Mother Earth loves it when we share her gifts. If things go well, you will have to share just to keep up and not let food go to waste.

Even if you are eating as fast as you can, plus canning, freezing, and drying, you will still have opportunities to share with others. I can't think of a better gift than vegetables freshly harvested from the soil.

Last weekend was Canadian Thanksgiving, so I picked a few veggies from our raised bed garden (with gratitude on my mind), washed them up, then arranged them in a basket. I walked over to our neighbours, had a chat, and dropped off the gift.

A few days later Linda and I spoke with our neighbour, and she mentioned the veggies. She said that they looked so good that she used them for the centrepiece for her table during her family's feast that night.gar

She particularly liked the results of my adventures in garlic braiding, saying that they were "too beautiful to eat". I loved that she loved the fruits of my labour.

Sharing is natural. And it feels good. That is what I wanted to share with my simple living friends today, wherever on this wonderful planet you happen to be gardening. Or thinking about gardening. Or sharing.

October 10, 2017

Choosing Simplicity For Wellness

Getting off the merry-go-round has allowed me to spend more time enjoying the healthful benefits of nature. 

One big reason that I retired to a more simple life seventeen years ago at age 40 is because I wasn't sure I could maintain my mental health while plugged into a 'regular life' in a western consumer culture.

I was not afraid to let go. I was ready.

John Lennon had already taught me, in the song Watching The Wheels (Gimme Some Truth), that it was okay to want to get off the merry-go-round. Like him, "I just had to let it go". For fast acting relief, try simple living. I found out later that he also enjoyed the homey task of baking bread.

Overall wellness increases when we reduce our focus on the acquisition of money, possessions and status. Stress levels drop and there is more time to rest, be physically active, eat healthful foods, and spend time with friends and family.

Creating a simple life for you and your family is more of a gift than a sacrifice, even if it is often more work. The majority of people who choose to live this way report improved mental and physical health. What is that worth? Is there anything else worthy of our effort?

Imagine what happens when your life consists of doing only the things you love to do. Or does living simply allow one the time to love all aspects of life more fully, regardless of what is going on? Either way, it is good for you.

Live simply to break free, or save money, or to live more sustainably - those are all awesome outcomes of this lifestyle. But definitely do it for your overall wellness, mental and otherwise.

October 2, 2017

Simple Living, High Thinking, Non-Violence

Gandhi's home. He was influenced by the writings of Henry David Thoreau,
and the two men lived in similar simple surroundings, undistracted by unnecessary stuff.

Today, the 148th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi's birth is being celebrated around the world. It should be - he was an amazing man, as close to a true hero as one can get.

Gandhi emphasized simple living, high thinking, and non-violent resistance, all things that we desperately need in today's world if we are to slow our slide into dark decades of dystopia.

Call it utopian if you want, I don't think of that as an insult, but Gandhi's philosophy on non-violence went far beyond simply the absence of violence. He also advocated radical democracy and self-rule, and extended participation to all segments of society.

Inequality and hierarchical structures (political and religious), are institutionalized violence. Authority over others always ends badly. Just ask the Catalonians, or any of us that suffer the violence of the state in its capitalist corporate economic prison.

I celebrate Gandhi's birth today - he was a model human of the most gentle kind. He lived what he proposed, and had solutions. Right now, we badly need solutions, and soon.

Simple living, rational thinking, and non-violent resistance are tried and true, proven solutions, and I thank this amazing man for bravely bringing them forward. The sooner they are adopted, the better off we will be in the end.

We can break the bars that hem us in to narrow lives of drudgery and perpetual shopping. We can all be heroes. To this, I think, Gandhi would agree.