Down To Earth
by Fiona Crawford - July 10th, 2012
Things It Would Be Helpful To Remember Before The Fact #147 was, for me, that I’m monumentally allergic to codeine. Recalling that at the crucial, pill-swallowing moment would have saved me a not-fun night of vomiting so regularly and with such force that I’m no longer sure there’s any enamel left on either my teeth or the toilet bowl.
The upside is that the subsequent sickness-related self pity inspired a desire for home comforts. Which in turn led me to finally crack the spine of a book I’ve long overlooked for ones made more exciting by vampires or damaged protagonists with a penchant for BDSM. It’s Rhonda Hetzel’s pretty, pretty, textured-pretty Down To Earth.
The subtitle, ‘A guide to simple living’, sums this book up better than any other words I can find. It’s a personal reflection on Hetzel’s own dissatisfaction with cash-strapped, rat-race-like consumerism and her search for satisfaction in simpler, more wholesome, less money-driven, more environmentally aware existence.
On one level I was disappointed with Hetzel’s book—it says very little that we don’t already know. On another I was inspired—it affirmed what I knew and appeared doable and not entirely scary. She’s effectively taken the gnawing doubts that there’s got to be ‘more’ to life than ‘this’ yearning for simplification that we all have and made the all-embracing leap.
The leap is back to much of what our parents and grandparents knew and did: growing your own food; mending rather than throwing things out; buying only what you can afford. Common-sense stuff, but that we’ve vastly and devastatingly departed from. It had plenty of this knowledge which has been lost or forgotten (or at least it has for me). A triple plus: Down To Earth had heaps of info on composting, worm farms, and keeping chookens—my three main current areas of interest.
I’ve spent many an hour researching and pinning images of chook tractors that I intend for my father to build. Tractors for chookens I’ve not yet convinced him I have to have. You see, we’ve had them previously and he has prior experience in building said pens and keeping said chooks.
That I was viciously attacked by the rooster and still have the physical and emotional scars from is something that I’m prepared to move on from, especially as I have no intention of having a rooster. The fact that I don’t actually eat eggs and that I live alone and travel a lot are, I feel, him dwelling on the semantics—me and the chookens would exist in happy, soil-improving, egg-producing bliss.
But I digress. Down To Earth is a heart-warming, rallying reminder of that which we know as well as a few new facts we didn’t. It’s also the lived, imperfectly honest journey of someone who’s tried and tested their way through the experience.
Oh, and did I mention it was incredibly, complementarily pretty? The book’s design (and, clearly, the budget outlaid to realise it) is earthy, wholesome, and straightforward while still being House-and-Garden-magazine salivating. It’s the perfect combination of being enticing but not intimidating. Me and my not-yet-purchased chookens wholly recommend it.