All About Kate

Until I was six I lived in a New Jersey ‘bedroom community’ of  NYC.  There were chickens and a garden in the backyard, which was common place then since most people who could had Victory gardens during the war. My Mother came from the Smokey Mountains close to Gatlinburg and seemed to know everything about food, plants, and weaving. Her sister, my Aunt Katharine, could do any craft from needlework to watercolors. My Father was very good with his hands in every area of building, creating with wood, and oil painting. He also taught me how to puzzle something out, think about a problem, and learn how to do new things. All my relatives were excellent sources of information and learning, particularly all the information you need for personal, family and community sustainability. Two Uncles were doctors, my Aunt a nutritionist, and Grandfather, who helped start the Botany Department at Furman University, told wonderful stories about his life, including fascinating teaching tales using Mrs. ‘Possom, Mr. Fox, and Br. Bear.

We moved to a farm in 1951 since my Father was fed up with working in New York City, commuting, wearing suits and ties, and the city life. My Mother was the authority on farm living having grown up in the Smokey Mountains; my Dad was a ‘city boy’ who was very skilled with his hands and wanted to learn how to live sustainably in the country. You might say we were one of the first ‘back to the land’ families. The farm was an over-grazed sheep farm, mostly poor, rough and stony land, with some weathered out-buildings and barns. There were electric lights, a ring phone on the wall, an outhouse, water pumped from a hand dug well, and a wood cook stove. There was also a potbellied parlor stove in the living room with large grates that, when opened, allowed the heat to rise upstairs into the bedrooms.

During this ‘Great Farm Adventure’, my brother, sister and I all learned how to do almost everything associated with surviving on what we grew, made, and ‘put-by’ for the Winter. It was organic because we didn’t want to spend money on chemicals when we had all this free manure from chickens and pigs. We all became very well grounded in making our own from scratch, the various activities and chores of each season, repurposing (or making do), sustainability, and all forms of recycling. We made bread, maple syrup, and smoked our own hams and bacon. We cooked, sewed, weeded, preserved, and canned. This was just a simple fact of our lives, and it became second nature for us. All of the simple wisdom of those years was so valuable in my life, and helped me raise five children on a very slim budget.

(More about that next time! This is a work in process.)

I have the great good fortune of being able to call up a kinesthetic and visual memory of all these things. All of my life I have been storing up these ‘taped’ memories on how to do stuff, what something is good for, and how to use it. My education both in and out of school has been incredible. I’ve been fortunate to live in several countries and travel to/through a handful more. I have learned about sustainability in the ‘Great White North’ and in the dry, hot deserts of the Southwest – after growing up on a small farm in the fertile Hudson Valley.

All of this lovely information is topical right now and I want to share it with you. It’s comforting and adds a firm sense of security to know you can live well no matter what – hense this blog. Enjoy!