Conversatin’ Locally

Two mornings ago, while Girl was at big-school and Niblet at little-school, Groomeo and I took an anniversarial, celabratory pole hike (basically, that means we were hiking but used ski poles, too; the arm workout gives the whole cardio aspect a boost. Personally, I enjoy it because I’m a much better skiier when there’s no snow involved). Being on the Superior Hiking Trail was, of course, lovely, but it got even funner once night-owl Jocelyn woke up enough to allow for an interchange of words.

The first grunts I managed telegraphed to Groom this random question: “So when you coached cross-country [running], and you guys would do ‘hill bounding’ in training, what exactly did that consist of?”

His subsequent demonstration–perkily leaping up a hillside to the sound of my muted applause–had the effect of re-injuring his groin muscle, a muscle that both he and I take very seriously. For the last few months, he’s been relying on yoga and biking in lieu of his usual daily running, just to give Groiny a break. But there, in the space of a hill bound, all his good takin’-it-easies were nullified.

As our hike got going, so did his groinal protestations. Being of Norwegian extraction, though, he did carry on for an hour and a half, stoically. It helped, too, that we had some conversatin’ to distract from the pain.

His opener was:

“So when we go over to Kids’ Godmamas’ house (our kids have the benefit of two godmothers, a lovely couple at whose commitment ceremony a few years ago we were privileged enough to speak a few words. I generally do that anyways, but it’s so nice to be invited to do what comes naturally) on Saturday night for their annual Friends’ Thanksgiving dinner, their request is that everyone’s food contribution be locally-grown, from not more than 50 miles away. With that in mind, and because neither of them hunts wild turkeys, we’ll all be having wild-rice-stuffed squash.”

Tripping over a rock but stopping the stumble with a well-placed pole, I mused on this. Of course, having a healty boho/crunchy strain in me, I could appreciate their choice. On the other hand, both Groom and I are a little tired of every concept, however noble, being packaged and marketed. Is it really different if it’s the books of Michael Pollan and Barbara Kingsolver that nudge our choices, instead of Wal-Mart and Costco? Is it always necessary to distill every life choice onto a bumper sticker?

Okay, okay. I suppose it is–sometimes. Buried somewhere in that last paragraph, though, there is a point to be taken. I’m just not going to disrupt the good vibrations of any conscientiously-composting, homemade-pesto-making, light-treading human peace symbols who might be reading this by pressing it home. If you disagree, calm yourselves by soaking some beans, lighting some incense, locking in your dreads, and getting the tie-dye pots a bubbling. Just make sure your incense and RIT dyes were made within 50 miles of your home, O righteous leftist consumers of the world.

Suffice it to say, these friends of ours are good, deliberate, thoughtful women. Their Friends’ Thanksgiving will be delicious and fresh, the food not contaminated with chemicals or petroleum residue. I like all that. I do.

“Hey, wait,” I finally replied to Groom, “don’t you always make some bready thing? How are you going to do that under those constraints? It’s not like the rocky clay of Northern Minnesota is waving back and forth with wheat stalks.”

“Yea,” ma man affirmed. “It’s a bit of a sticky wicket. Luckily, after a delicate negotiation with Godmama One, she and I reached a compromise: if I promise to only purchase hemp shirts for the next three years and wipe solely with Seventh Generation toilet paper, we can use wheat from a couple states over. The rest of the ingredients, we’re going to have to scrabble together.”

The brainstorming began. Noodly with gratitude that we wouldn’t find ourselves spending the next two days pounding dried yarrow into a wheat-substitute, we easily decided that local eggs and butter would be no sweat. Speaking of sweat, we started immediately collecting ours on that hike, mopping it into a handkerchief which we later wrang out, ultimately dehydrating the liquid until a small pile of crystals remained. We have salt. Locally-grown and emitted.

But yeast. Where to get it? A-ha!

A quick trip to the drugstore after the hike solved that one. We loitered near the Vagisil, and when women approached, we called them out, convincing them to donate some personal samples. After a bit of intimate scraping, the bread can now rise.

Indeed, eating locally is really an issue of ingenuity. The hike hocked up a list of ingredients, along with an unanticipated joke, created as I struggled with too-long poles, one that we can use to amuse the crowd at the Friends’ Thanksgiving table:

How many hearty Finns does it take to collapse a telescoping hiking pole?

Answer: None. It takes a Norwegian with a groin injury!

That’s the kind of material that kills up here in the Northwoods.

Okay, I’m off now to check the porch for our weekly delivery of butter and bottled milk from a nearby dairy. And even though we didn’t have a good year for basil, there’s pesto in the freezer that needs thawing before dinner. After that, I’ll carry out the compost–although if I see any bears out there, rooting through our old egg shells and carrot peelings, I fully intend to kill them and hoist them into the trunk of the car as an entree offering at the Friends’ Thanksgiving.

They are, after all, locally grown.

Unless, of course, we discover they were tranquilized this last summer in Yellowstone Park for getting too near tourists at Old Faithful and then transported a thousand miles away to Northern Minnesota where they’ve been ekeing out an existence in our compost bin. If that’s the case–frick!–the carcasses will just have to rot.

It’s a matter of principle.





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29 responses to “Conversatin’ Locally”

  1. Star Avatar

    You are better people than I who would be sorely tempted to swear it was all locally grown when in truth it was all locally purchased at the nearest supermarket. Oh, and I’ll pass on the bread.

  2. Franki Avatar

    Nice points except for the intimate scraping for locally grown yeast. That one was completely unnecessary.

    Me I’m shooting for a full Thanksgiving meal from China, side of lead and date-rape drug gravy.

  3. lime Avatar

    LMAO @ the source of yeast!

    oh and let me save ya the sweat and toil of hauling a bear carcass. bear meat is NASTY! trust me here. i’ve tatsed localy grown bear. i’m doubting MN bear is much tastier than PA bear.

  4. Jazz Avatar

    Um… those hemp shirts? Are the hemp fields less than 50 miles from your house? If not, you’ll have to grow your own.

  5. furiousBall Avatar

    hey there’s those poley-things you recommended to me for some walks in the woods.

    i do prefer local veggies from here in jersey. we grow our vegetables between the medians of the turnpike.

  6. Jeannie Avatar

    I’ll bet our local vaggies produce better yeast than yours.

    excuse me while I puke.

    I like to support local producers when I can but I really don’t have time to go out of my way. And what if our local producers are the evil suppliers of other locations? (Our local potatoes and apples go far).
    We have a local flour mill too. I have no clue where they get their wheat – probably out west BUT I have yet to see their flour in any local store. Strange huh? Although I have seen their bags used in local commercial bakeries.

  7. susan Avatar

    If the grocery store is within 5 minutes of your house, doesn’t that count as local? Or I guess I could go around and pick up the windfallen apples that seem to be all over the place…

  8. Glamourpuss Avatar

    Yeah, I’m with you. I used to live with a bunch of anarchists who stopped talking to me when I got a job in a shop that sold things. being part of the capitalist machine made me a class traitor, despite my council estate upbringing and state education. Idiots. The put me off pulses for life.


  9. Maddy Avatar

    It’s tough to do local, organic and healthy when you break it down to all the finer ingredients. I think I’d have taken the opportunity to gather some acorns and bring a different kind of surprise entirely. I’m sure the tea that you can brew would have all kind of health benefits for the groinily challenged.

  10. Tai Avatar

    I’ve been a bit environmentelly challenged as of late…what with the tree trying to eat my car BUT I can see wherein lies the ethical disinclination when it’s being forced upon you.
    I make my choices, try to do the best I can when I can.
    As for the rotting bears? Yeah, Kimber has a few in her hometown. The fenced in the dump and then shot about 25 last year when they took to raiding the locals’ collections of egg shells and carrot peels.
    Now THAT’S environmentally sound planning. (geesh!)

  11. Her Grace Avatar
    Her Grace

    You lost me at local yeast. Completely lost me, as in I fell off my chair, clutched my heaving, laughing belly, and rolled away.

  12. Theresa Avatar

    Ooh, groiny’s injured, now that is serious. Looks like you’ll have to nurse Groom back to health, but that means taking it easy, in every aspect. That local grown thing is kind of like a wave of “natural” things over here. On every comercial you get, “It’s natural, so it must be good.” Whoa, wait a minute! Lice are natural too, but they are not good. Botulism is natural too, but I don’t think anybody would say that’s good. Hmmm, choice between local bear meat, and not-so-local turkey farm meat…I know which one I’d pick. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  13. Wayfarer Scientista Avatar
    Wayfarer Scientista

    up here when they couldn’t get yeast (of any kind really) they created sourdough starter and because of the smell and the fact that the same time of year they couldn’t get yeast apparently water was hard to come by (i.e. frozen) they started calling the old timers sourdough’s too because of that lovely smell and the doughy features of not enough sun ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Jill Avatar

    While I do admire and appreciate what the godmamas are trying to accomplish, I usually resist anything that creates more stress for me over the holidays. I’m pretty sure that if I were given the same directive, I would take whatever dish I wanted and just lie about the origins of the ingredients. But I don’t feel good about it.

  15. Jamie Avatar

    If that truly is the only way to get local yeast, consider my toast this morning the last bread I ever, ever consume.

  16. jen Avatar

    good lord, woman. you slay me. that drugstore line was hilarious.

  17. Stepping Over the Junk Avatar
    Stepping Over the Junk

    it is interesting how different regions have their own sense of humor, different from others.

  18. Claire Avatar

    “After a bit of intimate scraping…” OMG, that is just gross and disgusting. But I still laughed cuz I suspect ur makin’ fun of someone or something.
    I just picked some tomatoes from my garden yesterday -in November! WooHoo!

  19. My Reflecting Pool Avatar
    My Reflecting Pool

    well, wasn’t that an interesting way to get your yeast. And salt. ick.

  20. SQT Avatar

    Oh gawd, I have friends just like that. They won’t use the microwave for Pete’s sake.

    I would totally use whatever ingredients I wanted without lying about it. So I wouldn’t get an invite next year, but given the constraints, that’s a good thing.

    But I’ll be surprised if you get an invite back after they hear about the yeast harvest. *shudder*

  21. kimber the wolfgrrrl Avatar
    kimber the wolfgrrrl

    Hah! As a picky vegetarian with food-allergies, I can say, “Great post!” I think it’s all very responsible to seek out local produce and be thoughtful and live lightly on the Earth, yada yada yada, but it should be something you just do. Just like you prefer butter to margerine, or white shoes to black shoes — you don’t make these choices because a bumper sticker told you to. You make them because you prefer them, and it makes you happy. I really try not to foist my restrictive, obsessive and insane diet on other people because that just isn’t fair.

    *tripping off soapbox*

    By the way, thanks for the art title suggestion. I shall, indeed, be going with miniBar. Cheers!

  22. Em Avatar

    A very funny post. I felt like I was right there on the walk with you guys! But there are 2 or 3 specific comments I feel compelled to make.

    1) The phrase “pole hike”, at least to my disturbed brain, has a decidedly sexual implication.

    2) I’m all for the locally grown stuff…so I applaud your friends efforts and your attempts to support her dinner rules.

    3) Any bread I eat at Thanksgiving will, no doubt, bring the phrase “intimate scraping” to mind.

  23. Shari Avatar

    What, no asparagus? ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. Mother of Invention Avatar
    Mother of Invention

    I’ll never look at yeast (or vagisil!) the same again!!

    It is a cool idea doing a friends’ diner. I plan to do that some day when my parents are no longer around.

    I do a lot of “Nordic Walking” or “Urban Poling” around my town where very few people have ever heard of it. I get weird looks and comments like, “Are you waiting for the snow dear?”!!

  25. Diesel Avatar

    What a joke. Did you drive to the local market in your locally made car burning locally made gasoline? Friggin’ granola people. Changing the world one ill-conceived notion at a time.

    But hey, have a good time! ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. cathy Avatar

    I’d be out searching for road kill.

  27. Top cat Avatar
    Top cat

    I got a chuckle out of the yeast thing too.
    Jocelyn I can imagine if a bear crossed your path it would wish it’d never ventured out of the woods. Your can-do attitude and firey spirit will win every time.

  28. Dorky Dad Avatar
    Dorky Dad

    These dang parties are EXACTLY why I beat up my neighbors and turned their back yard into my own personal hobby farm, complete with wheat. Now when I bring my homemade Mac n’ Cheese, I just say, “I grew it MYSELF, dammit!” Then they shut up.

  29. Princess Pointful Avatar
    Princess Pointful

    There you are, rubbing it all in about your environmental superiority and your ability to compost. I am seething with jealousy.

    And I literally laughed out loud about your salt and yeast baking endeavours. Remind me not to come over for dinner.

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