I believe in the art and science, the system, of housekeeping, of home making.
I believe that you must know how to feed yourself: how to take beans and pasta, sauté homegrown onions, celery, and garlic, add tomatoes roasted and canned in a summer hot kitchen, a roasted red pepper, some zucchini, basil and parsley, and mix them all together into a soup that will carry you through a long week of work and meetings and grading papers. You should know how to bake bread—or at least muffins—to go with that soup, and maybe some oatmeal raisin cookies as well. You could even learn the more arcane arts of fresh cheese making, of gnocchi and pasta, of beer brewing and food preservation and fancy meal planning. But you must know how to cook. I believe all good things start around kitchen tables, around meals shared amongst strangers.
I believe in the weekly rituals of house cleaning, of bringing order back from the brink of entropy, of establishing the patterns of the week. While the bread rises and the soup simmers, clean the bathroom, scrub the kitchen counter, hang up the still clean clothes. The blankets need airing, the sheets and towels should be changed. Put away the books and projects left over from the busy week. Find all of the mugs tucked under chairs and beside the bed and wash them. Plan out the food for the week and grocery shop, so you know, in advance, what you’ll eat on Wednesday night. I believe we need to establish order in the physical world to establish order in the mental one.
I believe that you should grow some of your own food, so that you know, in your soul, what fresh food means. I believe in small herb patches: the scent of just picked marjoram cooking with garlic and onions at the beginning of the soup, chives and parsley chopped into cottage cheese, mint tucked into the pitcher of sun tea brewing on the doorstep. I believe in lettuce and broccoli jumbled together in a raised garden bed, in a community allotment full of potatoes in July, in working on a local farm, listening to the rustle of wheat in the summer air. Then, after you have raised the food, save some of it for winter. Make jam and pickles. Dry some fruit and herbs. Stash a couple of winter squashes under the bed, if you must. I believe that eating your own food at every meal—even if it is just the parsley—connects you to the cycle of the earth.
I believe in hand washing dishes while meditating on the nature of reality, in sorting laundry and hanging it out to dry in the cool morning air, in mending shirts and knitting socks and hats. I believe in eating off of the Good Dishes by candlelight some nights when you are dining alone, in inviting people over for dinner and setting a beautiful table, in carrying a mug of tea into the vegetable garden on the Summer Solstice.
I believe that, in establishing the rituals of housekeeping, you are connecting yourself to the core of the world, to the cycle of the earth, to all who have come before and those who will follow. If we all care well for our small personal homes, I believe we will make better choices for our larger home, the planet.