Have you noticed that the desire make things with our hands and the rise of the DIY culture seems to be growing in proportion with each release of newer, faster, and smarter technology? Its like the streamlined convenience of our virtual experiences are creating their own antidote. Canners, brewers, gardeners, bread bakers, knitters and keepers of chickens. Turns out, we want to be more than just consumers; we want to be makers! And there's no more obvious place for this to be expressed than in the kitchen.
It's funny how we are now taking up with a passion what our grandmothers were only too happy to set aside as drudgery. The major difference for most of us today is that we are choosing to spend our Saturday afternoons canning tomatoes and kneading cabbage into sauerkraut rather than being forced into it by our gender or economic conditions. This act of choice makes all the difference in the world.
But I also think its important to point out that home canners and bakers and brewers are also reclaiming something. We are discovering that there are things we value higher than convenience and uniformity. Things like taste, texture, humane treatment, sense of place and belonging, uniqueness.
Maybe there is something inherent in us that needs to create and work with our hands. Maybe our expression sometimes requires a certain physicality, the human need to get our hands dirty or the satisfaction that comes from putting a lot of physical effort into something we care about. The happiness-making marriage of body, heart and mind working together.
The winds of trendiness are fickle and who knows what will be next? Maybe in six months we'll be cutting up our breadboards for book shelving and littering the curbsides with cast-off canning equipment. Maybe this DIY stuff will fade away and we'll stock our shelves once again with Wonder Bread and cream of mushroom soup.
But I like to think not. I like to think that by having one hand on the key board and the other in a big wodge of bread dough, we're finding a balance. That while our minds restlessly seek out the new and improved, our hearts will always be moved by familiarity and nostalgia. And our palates will rejoice in the incredible array this brings us. We are seeking our balance, finding out who we are and, in the end, putting some mighty fine grub on the table.
Related: Weekend Meditation: Curiosity
(Image: Dana Velden)