I often dream of a fictional land. Actually it’s a tiny island. For centuries the inhabitants of the island have lived what seems to me as perfectly as one can. Spring is nothing short of heaven. Summer sizzles, but makes it all the more delightful to wile away the days in the cool beach waters. Fall is sweet surrender when the final days of Summer become unbearable. Winter is pleasantly mild, but cold enough so that the breaking of Spring is quietly anticipated.
Although the island’s climes provide a wonderful backdrop, it is simply the musical score to its rich history and culture of gastronomy. To the islanders, food is far more than sustenance. Food is a means to celebrate life. Food is respected and taken seriously—from the ritual of its preparation to the china upon which it is served. Meals are regarded for their pleasure and importance and most often taken outdoors, not far from the gardens from whence they came. No matter what ills the islanders are dealt, the promise of a lusty meal and indulgent libations is never far away, and ultimately the body and soul are restored.
Authentically grown and prepared food is held in high esteem particularly for the women of the island. The women enjoy a long tradition of using the very bounty of the island’s many gardens to cultivate skin salves, hair masques, salt soaks and a multitude of other beauty indulgences. With this practice and a diet of wholesome food, the women are deservedly known for their ethereal, almost other-worldly beauty—a beauty that doesn’t rely on quick-fixes and gimmicks, but on time-tested and natural means.
The women of the island are the keepers of the secret of food both figuratively and literally—on the island there’s a common pantry the woman manage. This pantry stores the island’s mainstay of food. In it are rows upon rows, and shelves upon shelves of dried and canned fruits and vegetables, grains, herbs, spices, oils, extracts–a magnanimous bounty of anything the women would ever need to nourish and beautify their lives in so many ways. The Pantry is a central part of the women’s lives. It’s where they fellowship, gossip and share recipes that will be prepared with economy and grace.
Although this way of life may sound archaic on the surface, the island women are actually quite progressive. They enjoy the spoils of modern life (what better way to manage one’s harvest and recipes than with a smart phone?). But the women know of society’s dysfunctional relationship with food, and understand that it is neither beautiful nor sustainable. They understand the lure of the pretty cosmetic jars full of promise that line the glass counters in the shops on the mainland. But again, they know better—that food is innately and inextricably tied to their happiness. They are in this world, but not of it.
Sigh. I am ready to pack up my family and move to this imaginary land. I want to break bread with these wise women. I can almost taste the roasted peppers rubbed with an exotic blend of spices being prepared for their family’s next meal. I want to snip fresh mint from their gardens, soak it in vinegar and bathe my hair in it. And The Pantry—I can see it as clearly as if I were standing inside at this very moment.
I became so giddy that I began writing about this land. By the time I had churned out a few chapters, it dawned on me that as mystical as this land sounds, it really isn’t that far-fetched. In all its unconvention, the lifestyle of this land is, in fact, fairly attainable. I’m not daydreaming about becoming an astronaut, but simply to live a remarkable life on my own terms.
A remarkable life is one in which: (1) you do something meaningful that you enjoy; (2) you have a flexible schedule that you control; and (3) you earn recognition and good (enough) compensation. ~Chris Guillebeau, The Art of Non-Conformity
When the simplicity of it all set on me, in an instant my life’s dream became spending my days tending to a dream garden and stocking The Pantry. Here and there I’d take small breaks to write short stories about this strange land, and to snag a quick catnap before preparing a delish and restorative supper for my family. After tucking the kiddos in bed, I’d end the day, sitting on the porch sipping lavender infused vodka with The Mister while recording the day’s findings in a journal like a modern day medicine woman.
This is living.
I don’t ask for much. Like many of you, I find myself at the mercy of society’s unspoken rule that says I must clock in and keep the chair in my cubicle warm until I (hopefully) retire. Is this as good as it gets?
I think not.
Today is Day One.
This is my curated homage to opulent living that is seldom about money, yet is rich in spades. This collection of discovery is an itinerary for those who believe that life is elevated when an array of small joys are thoughtfully strung together.