Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Kindness of Strangers

"There's so much good in the worst of us
and so much bad in the best of us,
it hardly behooves any of us
to talk about the rest of us."


We first heard those beautiful words during a recent trip to Maine to see a friend recovering from surgery. We had the most delightful and heartening conversations with some of the family members. This was an enlightening experience for my Spouse and I: here we met down-to-earth people who live primarily off the land. They turned out to be thoughtful in matters relating to frugality, simple living and honest-to-goodness friendliness.
It was refreshing. There we were, in the woods among people who understood our struggle for simplicity and nodded vehemently when we told of our longterm plans.
We spent almost $3 a couple of weeks ago on a small bag of supermarket potatoes.
There were ten potatoes at the very most and they were wet, mouldy and sadly the best of a dreadful lot. What a miserable forced-purchase that was.
At our friend's house in Maine I noted a sack of potatoes propped in a corner. It was a 50 pound bag and it cost them $6.
Spouse and I felt humbled. These people truly know the value of money and we can learn a lot from them.
One of the family members told us that she was in Walmart some months ago. A lady in front of her at the checkout was having difficulty with a credit card that the machine would not accept. She flipped open a book-sized wallet and dangled her fingers over a choice of no less than eight credit cards.
She turned to our friend and sighed. "Those credit cards never work. You know how it is."
"I don't," came the determined reply. "I don't use them."
This was met with shock and incredulity.
No, we do not all know "how it is", and thank goodness for that.
Thank goodness, too, for being able to meet decent, earthy people who are educated in all the right things and who still know what it means to earn a crust, and to share that crust even if it is little. They scarcely knew us but it did not seem to matter.
We came home from Maine with a precious package of potatoes, two large hunks of lamb, kindly donated, and a hoard of new ideas to simplify our existence.

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