…in short, we work. This is the dirty little secret of seaside living. Everyone around us may be on vacation, but that doesn’t mean we get a holiday. People move here imagining that life is just one long afternoon under a beach umbrella. They stop for lunch and look out onto our sidewalks and think, “Don’t people here need to earn a living?”
Yes, we do. Those window-shoppers? Other tourists.
This rings even more true for me since I work from home. I set my schedule around the crowds and that means I tend to work on Friday nights and all weekend long. I have my fun on a Tuesday afternoon and run errands at 10am on a Wednesday.
It beats the hustle and bustle, but also prompts the question, “Don’t you work?”
Closely related to Cornish, the native language of the English county Cornwall, and to Breton, the native language of Brittany, north western France, Welsh – or Cymraeg to its speakers – dates back to the 6th century, making it one of Europe’s oldest living languages. It evolved from the Celtic language spoken by the ancient Britons and was handed down through the generations until the 19th century, when the industrial revolution brought about an alarming erosion of the Welsh language.
Since then the battle to save Cymraeg has been inextricably linked with Wales’s national identity, and much has been done to promote its usage. At the uppermost level, political parties have been founded (Plaid Cymru began in 1925 with a primary mandate of promoting the language) and acts of parliament have been passed, but the future of the Welsh language has also been embraced by its people. A passion for keeping it alive has led to everything from adopting bilingual road signs to the Welsh television channel S4C.
Today Welsh is not the dead language many would have you believe (and indeed many feared it would become). Welsh is now growing again and, according to a survey by the Welsh Language Board, is spoken by 21% of the Welsh population, 62% of whom speak it on a daily basis.
Although many places in Wales now have English names, the Welsh language still appears in numerous village and town names and, although all the locals speak English, understanding a smattering of Welsh will help visitors understand the heritage of where they are visiting. Undoubtedly the most famous place name is the tongue-twistingLlanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, which in English is translated as the fantastically descriptive “St Mary’s church in the hollow of the white hazel near to the rapid whirlpool of Llantysilio of the red cave”.
Even the most basic knowledge of Welsh will inform a visit to this proud and heritage-rich country, so why not make a start with these simple phrases:
With all this talk about eating local and counting miles I thought it would be good to explain what it really means. The foundation for local eating starts with a foodshed.
Foodshed: a region or area from which a population draws its food.
The typical limit on these regions is 100 miles. Draw a 100-mile circle around where you live and that is your foodshed.
In economic terms this is ideal distance a farmer, or her goods, can travel to reach a market. That way it arrives on your plate as fresh, ripe, and nutritious as it can be.
Go outside of this limit and there is an increasing reliance on fossil fuels and a decreasing quality of the food.
For those concerned about pollution, global warming, or oil-addiction these “food miles” are a cause for concern. Farmers face similar concerns, albeit from the other side, with a rising cost of gas and oil-based fertilizers that narrow their profits.
These rings of farmland surrounding our communities represent the ideal of sustainable living. Where the countryside is not poverty-stricken, but instead a vibrant economic sector known as much for its wineries and ‘farm-days’ as it is for fresh meat, vegetables, fruits, and nuts.
Even more these areas are often recession proof as evidenced by their continual rapid growth during the past half-decade.
It is for all these reasons that the locavore movement is popular and gaining momentum, there is something in it for everyone. Even the beefiest of meat eaters.
For further reference I’ve pulled together several maps of America’s foodsheds. Take a look.
Next week, Steve and I will be packing up our place in DC, moving our furniture into storage and heading to Southern California to live for three months as part of a pact we made in December to split our time between DC (where I’m from) and California (where he’s from).
We have no grand strategy other than the fact that DC (weather-wise) is rather miserable in the summer and winter months, so we’re opting to enjoy SoCal during those seasons.
During our time in California (LA for July and August), we’ll still be working on projects and growing 1X57 (which is made possible by this little thing called the internet) but I’ll be taking an advanced screenwriting class at UCLA so I can refine my screenplay to the point I’m ready to pitch it and Steve will be reunited with his family, his friends and his “true love” – the Pacific Ocean – where he can surf his throbbing heart out. I’ll be hitting the waves, too. And we’ll be looking to become a part of a community in the same way we’ve done in DC, which we’ll be returning to in the fall.
While have some big things planned both work- and pleasure-wise (more and more they’re becoming the same) when we return to DC, we’re focusing on following our hearts and passions and riding whatever waves come our way.
So there I am, in the kitchen, eating a Dupont Farmer’s Market carrot with some “Maryland-style” hummus I made at home. I proceed to throw the carrot top in the compost jar in the freezer, wash my hands with a locally made bar of soap (not an exotically scented bottle of liquid soap) which just happens to be sitting next to my reusable mug I carry with me every trip to Starbucks. I pour myself a glass of DC’s finest tap water, then blow my nose in a hanky. I walk upstairs where our freshly washed laundry is hang-drying from our glass catwalk to deposit the hanky in our eco-water saver laundry machine, then I walk back downstairs, remove my phone from our portable solar panel charger, grab my kindle from my backpack which I take religiously everywhere so I don’t need throwaway bags, put my backpack in the closet next to my bike helmet which I’m wearing a lot more since I no longer have my car in the city and rely on my bike to get me where I need to go, and have a seat on the couch to read The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying while drinking a cup of warm Yogi Lemon Ginger tea.
And I think to myself, “I’m such a crunchie hipster!”
Or am I?
Before @robotchampion (and A Clean Life), I did none of these things. Give up my car? I LOVE heated leather seats in the winter. Shop at a farmer’s market on a Sunday morning? I was a notorious Harris Teeter, late evening Tuesday shopper, buying lots premade, packaged everything. Bring a recyclable mug to Starbucks? That just means I have to carry it around and wash the grody thing out. But I did all of these things, and more, and it hasn’t been an impediment on my lifestyle. It’s just required some simple changes in habits.
I don’t think I’m all that unique. I know tons of people who don’t have cars, who compost at home (even if they live in the city), who shop at farmer’s markets and who think bottled water is a joke (I highly recommend watching TAPPED). I have to wonder if my way of living isn’t such an extraordinary extremity as it is a market correcting itself from an ungodly and unnecessary level of waste and inefficiency.
So tell me: am I part of the new urban norm or just another crunchie hipster?