Essays from
Giving Ground


In the end it won't be cholesterol that kills us; it'll be errands. It won't be the eating of all those eggs;  it'll be that last quick trip to the store or farm to pick them up - and, oh! While I'm there I might as well pick up some more milk for the weekend, and while I'm around the corner, I'd better stop and get some gas, and didn't Fred mention he needed to change the oil in my car this weekend?

Just a minute; I'll be right back. I'd better make a list. I need to check whether the county garage will still take back used oil. And speaking of recycling, I go right past the recycling shed on my way to work in town; I might as well load the bag of cans, bottles and newspapers into the car this evening and take them in.

And I'm not far from the veterinarian's office when I pull in at the recycling center; I'd better pick up some more food for Whiskers while I am that close by. You know how this stream of consciousness errand list will end: it won't.

Living way out in the country, straddling a couple of centuries as it were, doesn't really help us cut down on errands. We don't need to call a plumber most times, is about all. When something does break down, like our old hand pump, we need to look farther and longer for parts.

Having our own garden means, unless we were to dry everything, that we still need mason jar lids and freezer bags. We still use our old sauna but we don't make the soap. We snowshoe and walk a lot but we haven't made our own snowshoe bindings for years now, and we've never made our own walking shoes. We have a wood stove, but we still like to have a store of matches. We don't use a flint.

Errands are enfeebling things; they cramp and undermine. There is only one errand I've ever heard of that was empowering rather than disabling. As the Berlin Wall came down, one of the first people to cross from East Berlin to West Berlin was a man returning carefully preserved library books he had borrowed before the wall was built. I don't suppose he was charged any fines.

Copyright 2015 by Pam Thompson

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Giving Ground
Superior National Forest
1223 Little Creek Road
Brimson, MN 55602