"I seem to have little to lose by dropping a century or two from my lifestyle."

As our pandemic disrupted lengthy supply chains, a certain simplicity seemed to emerge. The NYTimes Food Section features more recipes for dishes not traditionally found there, like beans and casseroles. Supermarket Ingredient sections seem hardest hit, with flour, pasta, and beans frequently unavailable for any price. Restrictions limiting a shopper to one or two of certain items have become commonplace. Our larder has consequently become more strategic and The Muse and I have increasingly become stockpilers, grabbing whatever's available when we spot it. The smaller shops seem better stocked. Thank heavens that our food security seems so far unthreatened, but our meals, always fairly simple affairs, have become even simpler, with fewer exotic fruits and vegetables and more reliable old familiars.

I've been reading a series of novels set around Ohio's Amish communities, and I sense a certain simplicity settling into our pandemic lifestyle.
I was imagining how my neighbors might react should we suddenly decide to go full simplicity. Since the usual commute's gone, I imagine that we might get along just fine with a horse and buggy, though we'd have to erect a stable and paddock in the backyard, probably in opposition to our community's Homeowner's Agreement. We no longer need to dress up for anything, so simple, handmade clothing might suffice. We're far from self-sufficient, but I could foresee a time when we might, our neighbors and us, bind ourselves together in tighter community for survival's sake, and ditch the shopworn and wasteful self-determination routine.

The modern pandemic simple life includes electricity, since our communities are no longer co-located. But our tastes seem ever simpler, whether in video, audio, or at the supper table. The Voice, a television series which began as a spectacle sort of showcase for undiscovered singing talent, has adapted to the new realities by employing stay-at-home video technology, stadium-sized spectacles not presently feasible. Saturday Night Live has been producing fresh programs featuring its huge cast performing from their own homes, a quirky but surprisingly workable alternative to their traditional studio productions. Several of the reporters on our local news post their stories from their living rooms. Individual artists produce and post fresh works featuring far less production and far more charm. Huge sports spectaculars have gone the way of the gooney bird for now.

I've always avoided automated yard equipment, reasoning that with my limited attention span, even a gas-powered mower seemed more likely to whack off a hand or foot than reliably trim the lawn. My neighbor's been reconstructing his deck using an electric circular saw that chews on my nerves better than it cuts wood, and I never would agree to use one. I have a few reliable old hand models which make up with safety what they forfeit in speed. There seems to be plenty of time available to employ more traditional means and methods now. If I could get away with keeping sheep, I'd just let them mow my lawn, which they would do more precisely while aerating with their hoofs and fertilizing without ever employing a garage space-hogging drop spreader. I pressure-canned six fine quarts of bean soup yesterday while The Muse made a couple of really fine sour cherry pies from cherries she'd pressure canned herself.

That danged beard seems perhaps the chief downside associated with going full Amish on myself. I'm not a beard guy, and the Amish oppose mustaches, as they see them as representing military service, something they steadfastly oppose. I am a life-long pacifist and much prefer avoiding making too much of a spectacle of myself, though. I look good in even a flat-brimmed straw hat, and could adapt to suspenders if properly encouraged, belts becoming ever less comfortable as my belly expands with age. Buttons have become bothersome, too, and I increasingly prefer pullovers. I'm likewise unopposed to living a life focused upon humble devotion. I even enjoy fried baloney, so I seem to have little to lose by dropping a century or two from my lifestyle. I'll keep the electricity but limit its use to fewer than six hours per day of concerted cell phone abuse.

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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