As I took yet another soul-reviving off-grid step, I realized that not only is off-grid more journey than destination, but there are a lot of grids to get off. “Too many,” said a colleague as he shook his head in his apparent despair. In addition to the quintessential electric grid, we’re weaning ourselves off the waste grid, the home-heating gas grid, and the water grid.
But it was Michael Pollan-inspired Linda who led us away from our first grid: food. It was she who walked away from the grid-tied organic produce at Kowalski’s and Whole Food Market. It was she who bravely founded a neighborhood CSA with our grower neighbor’s the Dietz’s. It was she who creaked open the bulk-room door, slipped inside and tapped our first---dare I say it---raw milk, oh no!.
But this week I’m Sandor Katz-inspired and I took the food lead. I couldn’t help myself. He made me feel so invited to take the next natural off-grid step. But you know what the very hardest thing is about all this (and every previous off-grid step)? I don’t know how to explain why I’m doing this.
In fact, if you want to get my blood boiling---and that’s not always easy---do what the 2012 Minnesota Solar Tour enrollment form did: Ask me how long it will take before our off-grid electric pays off. So I typed into the little box, “How long until your children pay for themselves?” OK I didn’t. But I wanted to. I really really wanted to. Do they think I’d leave my wonderful neighbors and co-workers and church community just to move down here and save a few pennies on electricity? So I typed in their little box, “We didn't buy the system to save money. We bought the system to enable us to live a life that is connected to the Land. Since no standard grid-provided electricity can't do this, payback was immediate.” And that didn’t begin to say why.
Perhaps I’m stepping off-grid to restore my grid-depleted mind, body and spirit.
But maybe there are too many too grids to get off. The food grid. The power grid. The money-enmeshed trade grid. Education. Transportation. Communication. My whole life was on a impossibly complex, corporate run, government regulated, quantity over quality, soul-sucking grid. Well not quite actually. The absolute best things in life were not: Linda, my friends, neighbors and church community. And the Land. Who knows where my heart and soul would be without them, without my off-grid island of connection, love and support? Now all I’m doing is adding to that off-grid community. And the most recent addition came from the inviting work of Sandor Katz.
I started my first-ever batch of mead. Just raw honey, rainwater and wild black raspberries. That’s all. I let nature add the yeast and whatever else makes those blue bubbles on top of the raspberry mass. And in a few days, promises off-grid-minded Sandor Katz, I’ll take my first sip of slightly sweet, slightly alcoholic, raspberry brightened mead. What engaging magic! What an off-grid culture! The grid exercises control to gain consistent availability for me, me, me. Off-grid relies on wild collaboration (bees and flowers, honey yeast and me) and ruthless competition (yeast and me over mold and vinegar-producing bacteria) to gain…hmmm…what is it I’m gaining?
I guess I shouldn’t be too hard on those Solar Tour folks since even I struggle to well-answer their question. At least an answer delivered in words. Right now it’s more an energizing feeling, an uplifting song, blue bubbles rising in the mead. I think I’m going to start another batch.