Thursday, July 24, 2008

green by design or accident.

I've always been green to a large extent but I don't think I can take much credit for that really. In my generation there was still the after effects of the various wars and the great depression which my parents lived with. They learned the hard way to look after their things because it might be a very long time before they got another. Food was never to be wasted - it was expensive. It was always home grown where possible and always prepared from scratch. Take aways were what you had when you went on holiday and even then you only got them once. They were really special!

My mother still remembers rationing. There was an allowance of butter (for example) every week per person. My grandmother would take a large share for cooking and baking and the rest would be divided into small glass jars (one each) and the amount in the jar had to last you a week for your toast or bread or potatoes. Mum says it was about 2 inches square! She never could abide waste and taught us the same. She also taught us about moderation - never eat too much of any one thing but do eat a moderate amount of everything.

A normal day would begin with a plate of porridge and milk and a glass of fresh orange juice which we kids took turns to juice. There would be a small package of dried fruit or a raw carrot or a small apple for morning break and we would go home for dinner midday (only the bus kids stayed at school for lunch and this was home made too) where we would be fed three veg and a small helping of meat - no pudding in our house with dinner. There would be a home made cordial drink after school with a 'piece'. This was a cake or biscuit normally and mostly made by my grandmother after she came to live next door. She loved to bake but was an indifferent cook. My mother was a good cook but didn't really like baking.... it was a good arrangement especially after Mum took a part time job to cover our higher education.

Apart from this there were always apples, pears or whatever else was in season and then for tea we would get scrambled eggs or perhaps a pudding with toast to follow and that was it. If it was on your plate it had to be eaten and woe betide if you asked for seconds and couldn't finish might have to eat them cold for breakfast! (this applied to firsts too especially veges!)

We were very healthy. We walked the mile to school from the age of 5 escorted by an older child to make sure we didn't dawdle and then home and back after dinner and home again after school. Dad would drop us off some mornings on his way to work which was great. At nine we were considered old enough for bikes and the freedom of a bike was heaven after walking - we were always running late when walking - there was always a distraction somewhere - puddles to jump in, streams to investigate etc. Bikes meant you got just a little more time for whatever was going and still make the school gate as the second bell went. (there was a five minute warning bell that could be heard from the creek except in high winds)

I have tried to do this with my kids too although the distances have meant using buses more. That freedom to explore just can't be beat. I hate the idea of too much structure and restriction during free time. Teach the basics of safety and good behaviour, then let them go do stuff.

I think I got a little off topic here :) but it's all part of life. How can you be green if you've never been allowed to develop a relationship with the world around you ( or independent thought or imagination or wonder, or testing your limits - I got stuck up a tree for half an hour once before I got up enough courage to get down. The euphoria I felt once I did make it down was worth every minute.........).

Apart from that we lived in secondhand clothes (quite a lot were cut down from adult clothes and made almost as new by my mother) and preserving etc was just a part of life. I learned this stuff almost by osmosis.

Mums final efforts were to make us (me and my brother on alternate days) cook Sunday dinners and teas for almost a year just so she could trust us to look after ourselves when we went flatting for University and the last year of high school. Our parents put up with some rather odd dinners at times but we did learn! You don't waste food when you have to prepare and cook it yourself.

Then she let us go.

I think that will be the hardest thing I'll have to do as well and when I say let go I don't mean abandon but just to retreat into the background unless you are asked for help and try not to interfere too much.

The mother is also my friend.
And I've continued to go green......probably about lettuce green. Not at broccoli green yet but still improving :)

viv in nz


Melissa said...

I think it's really sad that people seem to no longer respect those thing that are so wonderful about your upbringing! It sounds like how I'll try to raise my kids if I have any!

camp mom said...

just loved your post! My folks both grew up in depression an dwasted absolutely nothing. growing up we may as well have been in depression. But we were happy and didn't realize just how tight things were. they were just flat out tight and we all learned how to deal with hand me downs. Mom sewed everything-baked and cooked from scratch....

sounds like you all learned valuable lessons...

knutty knitter said...

I've been giving the boys as much freedom with responsibility as possible. They can use buses, feet and bikes lots which is great and I do let them go fool in the local creek etc. Better than playstations anyhow.

viv in nz