Thanksgiving

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Today, October 7th, is Thanksgiving in Germany (or as we call it: Erntedankfest)

I personally have never really celebrated this event, but I want to say a few words of appreciation for my blessings!

As mentioned in a former post, I recently spent 1,5 weeks travelling in the lovely High Tatras (Slovakia). The purpose of the trip and the fantastic mountains there were defintely worth any penny I had. But upon my arrival home I realized that it had been a much more costly trip than our Mala Fatra holiday in spring.

It was time therefore to economize and minimize all my ready cash, because there was no way I was going to touch my savings account. I also don’t like to burrow money, because I belive in “Don’t spend what you don’t own.”

But I had to live of something – so on September 26th I bought about 10€s worth of staples – bread, musli, half a kilo of yogurt, some veggies and a couple bags of pasta. And as of today, that was the last time I went grocery shopping! Since then it has been one and a half weeks! 🙂

I was a bit in a pitch there

But I knew work was on its way. I had just signed my work contract with my old company and all I had to do was wait for my equipment to arrive. “Soon I will be earning tipp money to sustain myself.” – Or so I thought. But I have yet to receive my work gear… Apparently there is a shortage, and my home town being so small, it is of no great importance to them, if the few spots needing to be filled or not. Unfortunately, it is of great importance to me.

But then my blessings kicked in!

    1. Apples

      About every two years mother nature provides us with plenty of apples.

      The weekend after my return, my uncle offered to give me a lift to our garden (which is about 35km out of town). Curious how things are there, and having heard the report of my dad that our apple tree was having a lot of fruit this year (It does so, every two years, to be truthful).

      Free apples – I sure wanted them! I had already started to miss my fruit and vitamins. My sister and boyfriend ended up joining us, too. I  happily took a mental note about how this had turned the whole drive into a very sustainable car share and a pleasant family trip. Once at our garden we went straight to work:

       

      A hornet enjoying one of our apples.
      And so did this guy here! It knew better than to waste such a delicious meal 🙂

      My sister to collect walnuts from our small tree and I to collect apples. Together we filled three big cardboard boxes with them. Leaving plenty on the tree for later. I also collected quite a few ‘spoiled’ apples, meanng that birds or other animals had started to feed on them. Of these, I took those where the apple still looked good. Often they only had small bites, no need to waste them. I also grabbed many of the good-looking, but bruised apples on the ground!

      And why not?

      You can always cut out the bad parts later. Our apples generally turn out very small anyways, because no one of us ever bothers to thin the flowers in spring. More flowers  equalling more small apples. Which comes down to more work, as there are more cores to be cut out, etc. So cutting out a few bites or bruises really makes no greater difference. I was determined to make cake and apple sauce – all sugar free of course – with these ‘bad apples’ to prevent them from really going bad over time.

    2. Walnuts

      While we were busy at work, our neighbors arrived. Surprised to find someone ‘at home’ they did not hesitate to ask, if we still needed one of our rain tons. At taht moment we had two of them uselessly around in a corner. (And they wanted to use it for their bee stock.) We were willingly enough to lend it, but when we heard that the Sulphur would render it unsuitable for any other use afterwards, my sister hesitated, and so did I. But what pupose had we for it? So we gave away one, as this huge piece of plastic had not been used for years and had mainly been trying to ‘rott away’ in its corner.
      In return, we received a whole lot of walnuts from their big walnut tree – Lovely! I always like to eat nuts, so that was a good trade off 🙂

    3. Herbs and other stuff

      We also turned off the fridge, so I brought back some of my tofu sausages from spring, a piece of butter and other stuff. And since it is unlikely we will return often until spring, I also grabbed the coffee can and some more pasta. – I will happily restore all this with my earned wages next spring. But in the meantime, it shall not be left to be spoilt by mice, etc.
      I also went around and collected some of our herbs to be dried and used over winter 🙂

    4. Sharing is caring…

      As we had too many apples, I dropped off a whole box of them at good friend’s place. Or to be exact at her parents place. They are very kind people with big hearts and always, always want to provide anyone that visits them with some sort of food. Sharing the apples to me was a way to give back. Besides, there was no way we could have eaten all the apples by ourselves, especially with so many ‘imperfect ones’ – which I had not wanted to go to waste.

      I was pleased to hear that they were welcome as their apple tree had not had a good year. In return I received a bag of russian chocolates – which I partly shared with my family, but also greatly enjoyed myself. (Yes, despite my intentions to eat less sugar, which I still keep up!)

    5. …And can come a long way around

      My own veggies, and the many staples lasted me quite a bit. But I was running low on healthy fresh stuff, when the above mentioned friend asked me for a favour. We both love to cycle, and thus are no car owners – so by borrowing my sister’s car I helped my friend to buy some household stuff and bring it home.

      On the way to her place we dropped in at her parents house – because I needed a charging cable that she had stored there. As it happened to be, someone from her family had brough over some peppers and dill weed from their garden. Her dad passed on some to her, together with some tomatoes from their garden and she shared them with me. I thus found myself driving home with a bag of fresh and probably organic produce

    6. My petite amie

      A funny coincidence had made me meet Michou in Canada in 2017. Back then she was visiting her sister, who was also volunteering at the same place as me. As it turned out, she was to study ‘textile’ in my hometown the coming spring. (I mentioned her in my 60 Days without added sugar and chocolate diary.) When she arrived I helped her as much as I could, lending some odd household things and so on.

      Shortly after my return to Germany, it was her time to return to France. But when I went to say ‘goodbye’ and pick up the things I had lend her, as she was not going to take them with her, she now in return wanted to pass things on to me – and I was to choose what I wanted. Which was very sweet of her 🙂 Of course, I did not want the sugar, nor the sweetened hot chocolate mix. But I happily became owner of little wooden cutting board, an organic hair and body and a package of pure cocoa powder – to mix my own hot chocolate mix! (Though I still have not figured out how to make it tasty without any sweeteners or sugar.)

      She also gave me some other random stuff, like a glass baking pan (<3) or a rose coloured rubber cake form, which I intent to test soon: To make apple cake – of course using only the apples as sweeteners and refraining from adding any sugar 🙂

    7. Let’s clean out the cupboard!

      In search of some variety I also found some neglected items in our kitchen. There was my coconut oil, that no one had used up over summer. Pasta, rice and other stuff was found. And I also had a big bag of sunflower and some pumpkin seeds left. There was also garlic lying around that looked like it was going to sprout soon and needed to be eaten. And to my happy surprise there was still arugola growing in a flower pot on the balcony! I ate some of it, but it shall be my last resort, when all other greens are used up 🙂

    8. The apples themselves are still plentiful

      And continue to be part of my daily breakfast. Today, with a guilty consciousness, I also finally finished ‘processing’ the last ‘bad’ apples, after some had really gone quite bad inbetween! I only prepared some apple sauce for now. But tomorrow I will see if the vegan recipe I found online is going to work for me.

    9. If I ever felt like it, I could also always go foraging – it’s autumn after all!

      In that regard, it is almost a shame that I don’t like mushrroms, but don’t think I’ll change that. Yet, I have seen plenty of herbs growing as weeds around our garden – which would make nice spices or tea, depending on the herb. There might still be berries too! Like these delicious blueberries and cranberries we picked in the Western Tatras and that decorated my muesli for half a week.

Bowl with blueberries and cranberries on a muesli.
Autumn: The time of year when you can grab usually expensive, but healthy berries, for free!

Living more economically, sustainably and consciously – that’s all it is in the end!

On a last note I want to add, that there is no reason to worry about me. I’m by no means starving! Really! And if I ever should run out of anything – I have a caring family that would always help me out. All I need to do is ask them.

Whilst at first I though there was nothing to worry about – knowing that I would soon earn tipp money – it later turned into some sort of experiment. What I was first scared to think about – no ready cash! – I have since wondered, if it would not do me good. I was even thinking of simply turning it into a challenge: 30 or 60 Days without buying/obtaining anything new – except such that counts as food or is absolutely necessary (like transportaton costs, postage, etc).

Though I doubt I would find it much of a challenge. (Since it is more than 60 days until Christmas, which would be. Buying Christmas presents will be the only real challenge… Because I would like them to be as sustainable as possible.)
I also realize that by living even more minimalistic than before, I am living more consciously. “Don’t let the yogurt go bad, because there will be no new one for the next few days”. Or: “I am to ‘busy’/lazy to go grocery shopping – do I really have to go already? – Nope! There is still some leek standing in a water glass (so that it can grow more, which it always does) and some root cellery on the balcony, that I tried to get to grow roots (to plant it). ”

So with all this cleared, there is only one thing left to do:

Thanks for giving: Time to express my gratitude!

  • A big thanks to all my friends and family. Especially my sister. Though we don’t always get along and I will be glad to move out asap, I’m still thankful that allows me to stay for free.
  • Another big thank you for the plentiful gifts of nature.
  • Also for the fact that I am well off, healthy and can go through this, knowing that if all hell broke loose, I would still have my savings account to save me 🙂
  • Merci beaucoup also for the valuable lessons! They have been teaching me that there is more food around than we think there is. That cleaning out cupboars and fridges is important and that one can never try enough to not let food go to waste because off lazyness or forgetfulness. To be grateful for what you do have and make the best out of it, might be common sense but not necessarily common practice. And that I must remember this more often.
  • Thank you also to you, the selected few, that I know are often taking the time to read my (often long) ramblings! But also to all my other readers! I hope all you you will plenty of things to be thankful of on thanksgiving – whenever it may be that you celebrate the event!

And now that all that has been said, maybe I should start celebrating thanksgiving more often in the future!? 🙂

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