1. The furthest point or limit of something.
2. The extreme degree or nature of something.
Happy New Year from the Snowpocalypse! I’m having a blast here in East Tennessee. I feel relief rather than disappointment when I am snowed in being a naturally introverted hermit. It gives me a great excuse to hunker down and avoid the world without running the risk of offending those that would like to be social and looking like a loner weirdo.
I’ve started, deleted, restarted, deleted and restarted this post many times. I’ve been jotting down thoughts for a while now on social media, consumption, community, equality and how to “judge” or weigh in on it all. The winter is such a reflective time. I think about what I really want to accomplish in the next year of my life, the remaining 3 seasons.
I recently deleted my personal Facebook account. A large part of my winter introspection begins with purging that which no longer serves me. I realized long ago that social media was a necessary evil when it comes to building a business and therefore a community revolving around said business. For me this is farming and cooking. I maintain a Facebook page as River House Farm for this purpose. Is it selfish of me to remove myself from the fold so family members and friends near and far can’t follow my adventures? Is my boyfriend saddened that it made every picture of us and comment I’ve made disappear from his page? Does my father think it’s because of his uncensored political observations? Yes. Yes. Yes. The truth is, I love sharing snippets of my life with the world, in fact you can see most everything I’m up to on Instagram.
The reality is that I very much want to keep my relationships fresh and healthy and I believe that involves picking up the phone and ringing up an old friend or dusting off the stationary and sticking a note or two in the mail. I spent two seasons on a ranch in Northern California without the use of a cell phone and very limited internet access. I believe them to be some of the richest I’ve had. Every Monday I’d send out a small stack of short letters to the people on the outside that I knew were wondering what I was up to. Shockingly, I got many letters in return! Receiving a hand written letter in the mail or hearing a voice on an answering machine that wonders what I’m up to sends a feeling to my heart that I just don’t get opening an email or reading a status update.
This all being said, over the past few years I have gained a tremendous amount of inspiration from the farmers, chefs, homemakers, homesteaders, outdoor enthusiasts, artists and athletes I follow on Instagram. A picture really does say a thousand words. I’ve also seen a lot of judgement and misrepresentation. This is to be expected in this forum. As viewers we can only see what someone CHOOSES to share about their life. I believe we are all trying to put our best foot forward. I worry sometimes when I post pictures of my home, possessions, a nice photo of myself dressed up for a concert with my boyfriend that I may seem materialistic. Maybe it looks like I place a lot of value on the “things” that I have. This makes me think about how important these things really are to me and what kind of a role I’d like them to play in MY story. I’m also slightly worried to have come across as a “crazy cat lady”.
I live in the country. I grow my own food as well as the food for many others. I cook from scratch and personally challenge myself to see how little I can buy from the grocer or how few times a year I can go out to eat. My story reads exactly like I present it to the viewer. But guess what? I buy my toilet paper and olive oil at Walmart. Yep, it’s the only store in town and it’s cheap. I have been buying these delicious and perfectly ripe pomegranates and pineapples at Food City because they are on sale and I use to live where pomegranates grew and miss them. Pineapple in the juicer with celery, apples, oranges and ginger is one of my favorite morning beverages.
This leads me to what I like to call the “judge-y” side of social media. I try to be very honest with anyone interested to follow me on my journey. I feel I’ve done a lot of really satisfying community building based on local foods and strengthening a local foods economy in my area since moving here two years ago. I also think the very first thing you can do to isolate yourself from the people you wish to inspire is to judge them. Preaching won’t do you any good either. See, there is a church on almost every corner ’round here and I’m pretty sure if someone wanted to be preached to, they can find a place to get their fix.
I guess I’d just like to say that we are all human and doing the best we can. So please know that when I post a picture from Dollywood were I am eating a god-awful buffet and drinking unsweetened tea out of a Styrofoam cup it’s because the parking lot was so full that my truck is parked 1.5 miles away with all my farm treats in it and that I would lose almost a full 2 hours of coaster rides waiting for the tram to take me back to it. ( NO ONE wants to see me hangry) Directing our energy towards applauding efforts at sustainability and consciousness instead of hoping on our moral high horses and judging every “slip up” is what’s really going to propel this movement forward.
Let’s encourage each other to be the best version of ourselves we can be while at the same time opening our hearts and minds to the reality that we are all human. These are just a few winter thoughts I have been having. Also, how much do you love winter? If you are cooped up inside with the thermostat set to a very comfortable temperature, why don’t you shake it up!?
One of my favorite winter activities is grilling. Yep, grilling. I know it’s normally reserved for summertime evenings and long weekend holidays but there is something about standing around a hot fire in the snow that really makes me feel alive. I think feeling the 4 seasons in general is a very invigorating experience.
I like how tight your skin feels in the winter and how the wind chill whips and burns your face. How everything slowly fades from yellow and gray to green in the beginning of spring and is literally EXPLODING by the summer solstice. The sickening sticky heat of the summer that causes you to toss and turn in a pool of your own sweat in the evening and run straight to the nearest creek or river during the day. Then there is autumn, harvest moons. The season where for a farmer it all comes together. Everything is being harvested at one. Summer bumper crops are lingering, early winter crops are being weeding and babied along and fall crops are maturing and the flavors of early spring are revisited, this time with tomatoes and eggplant on top.
I hope you’re enjoying this time of respite and slow moving life. I know I am. The storm Jonas has inspired me to cook more in the last 4 days than I have in a month. I look forward to getting back into the swing of recipe writing and sharing recipes for pizzas, grilled trout, roasted turkey breast, sweet french macarons and MORE in the next few weeks!