The More Things Change

I saw a story on the news that got me to thinking about the saying, “the more things change, the more they stay the same”. It was about a builder who was building a very high end home in the greenest manner possible. As he listed the qualities that made this house “special,” I couldn’t help but think that it was not that long ago, they were things we took for granted.

The builders used solid wood for their cupboards, not wood that was put together with toxic glue. Carpeting was made of wool, with no nylon fibers, and again, glue made from natural products with no toxic fumes, was used. It struck me funny, that while we were growing up, this was considered the norm, and then, all of a sudden, we had these “new and improved” products that we are now trying to do away with.

My father-in-law used to tell me that life was like a pendulum. It would swing as far as it could one way, and then go as far as it could the opposite way. He believed that was the way of life and that the pendulum was there to help us with balance. I wish I could sit and have a conversation with him now, to hear his thoughts on the shifts we currently find ourselves in. Somehow, I don’t think he would be surprised.

Of course, once I had processed the house story through my busy mind, I then started thinking about how the same seems to be true of our food chain.

When I walked to school I would have been hard pressed to go by a house that did not have its own garden. Everyone, it seemed, grew their own produce, and it was not unusual on the weekends, to find a bazaar or group that would sell fresh baked goods. I remember the smells of the booths and being amazed at the tables of goodies. We did have a local store, but it did not carry the myriad of choices that we have now. The food was from our region….end of story. There was flour and sugar etc., but the rest of the store was filled with mostly local items.

I remember how curious we were when the store owner brought in some sugar cane in its raw state. It was so unusual and had the whole town buzzing. How funny that seems now, when in the Super Store we find things from all over the world at our fingertips.

I wonder if it will always be so or will our economic climate force us back to a simpler life? As more and more businesses fold and vehicle and transporting costs skyrocket, will we be forced back into life as we knew it in the old days? As people start watching their pennies, I believe our gardens will become important again. 

I was struck with a familiar feeling while visiting Italy a few years ago. Their life-style reminded me of what I had seen in my youth. Every house has a garden, and even apartments have pots of things growing and many even have garden plots. They find entertainment in their meals and in getting together. They walk almost everywhere and there are no elevators in most of the buildings.

Maybe they believe that simple is better, or maybe it really is, that the more things change, the more they stay the same.