Saturday, October 30, 2004

home, home on the range

If the Red Sea had been made of fallen leaves, Fredericton-ites wouldn't have asked God to part it for them, they would have gone to it with thier bags and rakes, transforming it into piles of neatly stacked stuffed bags for the garbage man to take away.

The leaves transform the city, as no doubt the snow will do soon. They fall like lazy birds from the tall elms, maples, oaks, to the heaved sidewalk below. They form a golden, lustrous carpet on my walk to campus. They skitter and scamper in the wind like cats with sharp edges. The branches of trees without them are surprisingly skinny, and look against the evening sky the way rivers and tributaries do from airplanes.

The air today is crisp and feels as bare as winter. The sun warmed my back as I walked through the city today, from bus stop to farmer's market to the Salvation Army, to the Dollarama, then home. At the market I bought bread, yogurt and a new leather belt from a local leatherworker. He helped me pick out the right one for me: length, thickness, design, buckle. It is this attention to detail and care for the customer's satisfaction that shows me that buying local isn't just a matter of principle, it is one of practicality and of pleasure. I am putting my money where my mouth (and the rest of my body) is: my local community, and having fun getting to know someone new at the same time. By strengthening the local community first, we invest in ourselves. This is how you build a true economy: goods, services, products, made to last, grown with pride, sold with honesty.

The Dollarama was good to show me the direct contrast with the market: rows upon long rows of products, all "only one dollar!!!!", all made in Southeast Asia, brought here in cardboard boxes on big ships, racking up the miles, emitting carbon into the atmosphere. Will these products last? Maybe, if the people who buy them are lucky. Probably not. They are not made to last, they are made to serve a purpose in the here and now: 'fuel' an economy, never mind the consequences.

Well, I admit I spent some of my dollars there, buying a cap gun, some rope, and a bandanna for tonight's costume, a cowgirl. I am not perfect. But the things that matter to me, more and more, I am buying locally, making for myself, or borrowing. If I don't try, then how will I know if it's possible or not?

Now there is Latin homework to be done. I'm nearly looking forward to it. It's hard to look forward to memorizing bunches of small words without much to distinguish them from one another. We're doing the personal pronouns now: ego, tu, is.. The birches outside my window, though leafless now, glow white against the blue sky. Their branches end in red scrubby tips, seeds waiting to fall. I'll resist the temptation to run outside and stay there til my cheeks glow; this Latin homework is also an investment, of sorts. Sometimes we have to trust that the things we do are not going to reap rewards right now, that we will see the dividends down the road.

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