This blog is titled “The Green Dish,” but could have just as easily been named something about a farm girl in Brooklyn, maybe “Little House on the L Train.” I have never lived on a farm, nor do I think I want to, I just tilt that way. I’m all about back to nature—but in the city—and I look forward to sharing my ongoing adventures of pursuing a handmade life in a manmade town. Today I am just introducing myself to you, but in the future I will be sure to include a recipe or a tip, something fun to chew on.
It’s all a rather unlikely scenario, how a green-hearted, nature-loving mom could be so dang happy to live in New York City. I’m definitely having my Eva Gabor moment here—I’m head over heels for this big town, while my husband dreams of mud boots and outbuildings.
The funny thing is that by most accounts, I should want to live in the country. I want chickens and beehives and sheep. I want to grow my own food. I want a big, old, creaky house. I want to bake bread. I might even want to see more stars than planes in the clear evening sky. But I just can’t pull myself away from this town. I love being surrounded by dynamic, eccentric, progressive-thinking people. I feed on the hum of all of us packed together. And I love my neighborhood of 20 years. What I really want is a slow life in a fast city.
So how do I reconcile a green life with this quick and gritty urban existence? I guess it depends on your definition of green. Our car takes bio-diesel, we get hydropower from our local utility company, and I have figured out how to coax ambience from low-energy light bulbs. But the true nature of green to me is a slow mindset. As in the Slow Food Movement kind of slow. I strive for the handmade, for the non-industrial. I strive for locally produced, high-quality, non-toxic, true flavor, environmental sustainability, and social justice. I am admittedly imperfect in this endeavor, but strive I do.
I find, oddly enough, that my urban life allows me plenty of opportunity to steer away from the industrial systems whose roads all lead to havoc and heartache. I can avoid large-scale commercial shopping. I can get most of my food from a CSA, the local greenmarket, or from markets that offer local products. We grow raspberries, plums, apples, pears, herbs and flowers in our urban backyard, and there is a wayward grapevine from a neighboring garden that reaches through our fence each year eagerly bestowing us with droves of grapes.
And I can make so much of my food. In fact, I can make so much of everything, which is really what it all boils down to. I make cheese and vinegar and homemade pasta and sour cherry compote, I can make the rose petal bath bonbons that my daughters adore. I can make my cleaning supplies and I can make a pinata from recycled paper and flour for my 4-year-old’s birthday party. And not for wealth of talent or leisure, simply a wealth of desire for a green and handmade life. And in the city I have easy access to things that makes this possible.
Am I busy? I am busy. (And I am not necessarily the bubbly, chirping at the crack of dawn kind of girl. And I do have two young children, five species of pets, a full-time job, and no outside help.) But it is the loveliest busy. It’s the busyness of visiting the garden to pick herbs rather than opening the spice drawer, of rolling out pasta dough with my daughters rather than calling in for take-out. It’s busyness filled with leisurely chopping and slow stirring.
For me, green isn’t about where you live but about the care you take in living. And for what it’s worth, the city inspires me to want to take care. It’s a deep contentment, knowing that the beehive of Brooklyn is buzzing beyond my window while I am at home reading about homemade butter with my girls. I say green is where the heart is, and for now, my slow green heart is right here, in the quick bustling city.