The other day, my brother and I were having an e-mail dialogue about enduring local communities. We discuss this all the time. One of the e-mails he sent me ended with the following quote by Wendell Berry about the resurrection of local communities:
“But to be authentic, a true encouragement and a true beginning, this would have to be a resurrection accomplished mainly by the community itself. It would have to be done, not from the outside by the instruction of visiting experts, but from the inside by the ancient rule of neighborliness, by the love of precious things, and by the wish to be at home.”
These two sentences, from Mr. Berry’s 1988 Iowa Humanities lecture, affected me and I wanted to read them in their greater context. I found the lecture in full here and I copied it into a document I printed. I read it twice and found myself shaking my head and underlining sentence after sentence. Of course, for a woman who loves precious things like acorns, old tools, and all the things Uncle Bob has never thrown away, this lecture made sense to me. Wendell Berry has a very gentle way to telling the ugly truth about where we are at this moment in time and history.
I also have a wish to be at home and this very well may be the reason I started writing this blog.
In the next few weeks and months, I want to write more about the alienation of modern life and my driving desire to be at home. I think it would be instructive and helpful if all my blog readers were versed in Wendell Berry’s lecture. By printing it off, readers can read it one bite at a time. Chew on things, underline things, and question things. A few people might consider discussing it with each other. Why, I might make Eldena Jones Apple Dibble Dabble and invite a few of my friends over for a salon.
Meanwhile, back here at The Coop…
Some of my friends know I am selling my seaside condominium. Selling real estate is an interesting project; it’s important that the buyer and seller agree to certain terms which are generally outlined in long, voluminous documents created by attorneys, bankers, and real estate professionals. Sometimes, these arrangements are accomplished outside of this realm. This is called a “private sale.” When I was married and lived in Portland, Maine, my husband and I bought a house this way, from a kind Italian couple we loved very much. Someday I will write a story about our lovely little home on Oakley Street.
The sale of The Coop has been gentle, like the purchase of the Oakley Street house. I’m very grateful to have met another kind couple who like my little condo. Not everyone, however, wants to have closets without doors. I don’t know exactly why I removed all the closet doors so many years ago; I guess I liked to gaze upon my clothing when I woke up in the morning.
I agreed to replace the doors because I could understand that this particular affectation was unique to me and installing a few closet doors was the least I could do to make The Coop a pleasant place to live for people who did not want to look at their clothing and shoes every time they wanted rest.
I’m not going to write a long and boring diatribe about the difficulties of finding a carpenter in New England in the glorious months before November rains fall. Everyone is out straight. Endless phone calls, visits to lumber yards and job sites, Facebook pleas, and crossed fingers resulted in nothing.
I entertained the notion of a hunger strike until the closet doors were hung. Tomorrow’s “Minimalist” photo is the one I planned to use to promote my hunger strike on social media.
I was desperate.
Then, the clouds lifted and I remembered my friend Caleb from the Victory Garden. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of him before; he’s a talented carpenter and a good friend. I sent him a message at 6:22 a.m. on Monday morning. He arrived at The Coop twenty-four hours later.
When I got back from a Moxie Committee meeting at home last night, all three closet doors were hung and they look stylish and neat. The Coop really doesn’t look like The Coop any more. I think I’ll stop calling it that. It’s starting to look like a place someone else is going to make into their own place of peace.
I’m not very good at hunger strikes, either. Thanks, Caleb, for demonstrating the ancient rule of neighborliness and helping me out.