Practice makes perfect so they say. I say that perfect practice makes perfect. So practice we do.
Each weekend, and any other time for that matter, we brush up on our skills. Skills that matter. Skills for the present and for the future.
So what has this got to do with simple or sustainable living? Well, I don’t think that it is a coincidence that the very same actions that help reduce impacts of climate change also helps you to prepare for resource depletion and energy descent. They are all intertwined.
To that end, over the last few days off I have been performing maintenance around the house. Fixing a door that wouldn’t close properly. Fixing some trellis that the Pepino bush threatened to drag to the ground.
I improved the chook house by adding a third perch to their roost. On the smaller run, I replaced a large gauge chicken wire with a smaller one to keep the remaining sparrows out of their food.
Kim cleaned the gate to Cluckingham Palace and I scrubbed the roof.
As you can see, it keeps the girls happy and healthy.
It was only simple little things but keeping on top of these types of jobs saves money and time in the long run. I would rather learn to do these things myself because once I have mastered them, I can pass the skills down the line to others.
I also made a double batch of Caerphilly cheese. Why make just one when it takes the same time to make two?
In three weeks we get to eat some of these wonderful creations.
Another form of practice has been transportation. Over the last month Ben and I have been peddling the local bike tracks, building up to something meaningful. As chance would have it Kim needed to pick up a prescription from here GP, so Ben and I jumped on our treddlies and rode to the other side of town via a safe route.
It took us 30 minutes to ride the 6 km. After a brief rest and a drink, we picked up the script and then rode home. A 12 km round trip. Lucky I have strong legs and the welcome assistance of my electric bike.
We always have great fun on our rides. It give you a sense of freedom, and if we had have driven, we would have missed so much. Ducks in the creek. The moon setting in the west. The chilly morning air in our faces, with tears of cold running down our cheeks and the odd car rushing past to nowhere in particular.
With about 2 km to travel, we stopped at the top of the new bridge that spans the Western Freeway. It felt surreal watching the lifeblood of civilisation whizzing underneath us being carried in long tankers to all part of the state. In the few minutes that we watched, we must have saw about 10 petrol tankers go by. Without transportation fuel, our civilisation will stop dead in its tracks.
It made me think about the next decade and the forthcoming energy descent. As we slowly slip down the depletion side of peak oil, what will the landscape look like. Will the vast suburban sprawl that lay before me, either side of the freeway degrade into slums or alternatively, thriving villages with backyard food production and cottage industries servicing the inhabitants and providing people with a living.
Hell, this really scares me. Knowing that people around me are somewhat oblivious to the changes that are upon us. But I suck it up and keep practicing.
I just hope all the preparation pays off, because sometimes I feel that I sound like a bit of a nut job or fruit loop when I talk about it to others. I feel a bit like the ant in Aesop’s fables, working diligently through the summer preparing for winter, while the grasshoppers of the world play their fiddles. Kim often says to me that I better be right about this when she feels a little bit down. I don’t blame her for feeling this way, especially when many around us are partying like its 1999 without a care in the world (except for the mountain of debt they have accumulated).
Deep down, I know that what we are doing is right. We also know that we will not be fully self sufficient, but you have to start somewhere and build the community that is required for them to be materially sufficient. Hey, you never know. I may be end up as the village cheese maker! That has a nice ring to it. All I have to do is find a farmer with cows or goats withing riding distance.
Now I realise that this post has been a bit of a ramble, but isn’t that just the way life is? A bit of a ramble, heading in the general direction of your goals. So here endith the story.
Let me leave you with a video mash up of the Paul Gilding TED talk “The Earth is Full”, edited by Sustainable Man. High visual impact, and mostly about what I have been talking about in this post. Call it the icing on the cake.
Eleven Fifty Nine from Sustainable Man on Vimeo
Do you regularly practice you post-peak skills?
How long do you think it will be before we start to see the wider impacts of the energy descent? Have you already seen telltale signs in your area which may even include economic downturn?