I saw a blip on Yahoo the other day about how to make the perfect piece of toast. How stupid, I thought, not bothering to click on the link to read the article. Are people today really that helpless that they need guidance on making toast? And then I got into my car and drove to Starbucks to get myself a cup of coffee.
Last week, I went to a market specifically for raw milk. I looked at the price. “Too expensive,” I told my daughter. And then we got into the car and drove to Starbucks to get ourselves a cup of coffee.
* * *
“Two large coffees,” I said, holding my hands wide apart, to indicate the size I wanted, putting an apologetic little smile on my face.
I admit it: I know the Starbucks lingo. But I pretend not to. I have never ordered a tall, a grande, no, not even a venti. I distance myself from the terms; pretend to be a foreigner. I act as if I don’t really belong to the culture of Starbucks.
I love Starbucks. I love the convenience of it. I love the trendy music, The New York Times, the gorgeous desserts that tempt from behind plate glass. I love the overstuffed chairs, the people laboring over laptops, the community message board and the coffee grinds I take home to my garden.
But the truth of the matter is, Starbucks goes against much of what I purport to believe in. And so, by pretending not to belong, by pretending that I’m only a visitor to these here parts, I can go on driving to Starbucks to get myself a cup of coffee. But I’m kidding no one, not even myself.
I believe in buying local, getting to know my producers by name. I believe in supporting small businesses. I believe in frugality and environmentalism. But most of all, I believe in independence, a gift bestowed upon me by my parents.
My parents gave their children the knowledge, skills and confidence to care for ourselves and our families. From them, we learned how to garden and put up the produce; how to make quilts and build a fence. We baled hay and mucked stalls and cleaned chicken coops. We helped transform strawberries into jelly that would last the winter. We learned how to strip and refinish the antiques that decorated our home. We learned to sew and to bake and hang wallpaper. Most of all, we learned the satisfaction of self-sufficiency: From my parents, we learned that it is possible to buy a forty-acre cornfield and turn it into a homestead that will forever be in our hearts.
Yet, despite those lessons, I find I’m slowly surrendering my ability to take care of myself and my family. Every time I have someone else make me a cup of coffee, mow my lawn, paint my ceilings, hem my clothing, I’m giving up a little bit more of my independence and, even worse, my knowledge of how to do something. Every time I purchase a pre-cooked chicken from the grocery store, I’ve lost the opportunity to teach my children how to prepare a meal.
It’s time I declared my independence from Starbucks. It’s time I reclaimed the jobs I so easily cast aside for others to handle for me. But…oh, yes, I’d forgotten: As I outsource these little bits of my life, the cleaning and the painting, the yard work and the decorating, I’m helping to spur on the economy. Well, then, let us lift a cardboard cup in a toast: Here’s to the economy.
Yeah, perhaps surrendering my independence is good for the economy, but I wonder…
Is it good for the soul?
Labels: Country life, Growing up