Less is More

Raspberry Chocolate Cake from last summer

When I stroll down our Berry Lane now in December, I can’t help but think about July when the berries were super-abundant, red, and juicy. It was pretty hot here but it was a bumper year for our berries. You could run out and pick a handful to throw on left-over rehearsal dinner cake (as in the photo) and not think twice. I literally couldn’t keep up picking them.

Now, it’s a few days before Christmas. I just got finished bringing up the next fews days’ wood and am thinking about lunch. I’m gonna get out some raspberries I froze back there in July to sprinkle on some cottage cheese. Even though I have lots in the freezer, I’m still a little miserly with them. Gotta make them last. It’s a whole different mindset than in July where there berries, berries and more berries.

I was thinking lately about paper and plastic–cash versus credit cards. Tis the season for overspending on gifts (I don’t happen to celebrate Christmas that way but many do). Having been pretty broke lately after 18 months of unemployment, I don’t use my credit cards for much of anything, but I marvel at the difference in the mindgame of paying using them or paying with cash. As with my raspberries in the freezer, i can see a finite amount of cash in my wallet which makes me a little more circumspect about making them last. My head’s in a totally different place, though, when I swipe the card. That number on the receipt simply goes into some black hole of finance to be dealt with later (which, of course, is the point. I’m old enough to remember places giving you discounts to pay with cash until they caught on that you spend more with plastic.). When I use cash, sometimes I even visibly wince.

It’s probably safe to assume that all those berry bushes along Berry Lane will produce to the best of their ability next year and the year after that, and there will be lots more than we can eat (there always has been) so it’s a fairly unlimited resource with periodic results.

Somehow this year we were on the ball and got the entire winter’s wood supply cut, stacked and covered (okay, it was only a couple of weeks ago but still….). I’m feeling that same “cash” mentality apply with it, though. I’m much more careful with deciding when it’s cold enough to light a fire (so far, so mild here), but I think it has something to do with making it last. It’s not as if we’re pressed for wood; there’s more of that old oak that was taken down four years ago and there’s always “standing heat” here on the property, as well. But something about having that stash is making me more careful with it.

Maybe it has to do with the tangibleness of things like berries or wood or dollars versus the airy potential, no matter the actual limit, of a credit line. I guess there are consumer psychologists studying this dilemma even as I type. And I don’t even think it has to do with paying now or paying later because later I’ll be picking more raspberries and splitting more wood. I think, for me, it’s the traction of being in the moment. And this moment is all there really is.

Little drops of summer