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My Year of Buying Nothing

That time of wine and roses - and chocolate

By Lee Simpson

Valentine’s Day puts the accent on romance. This year, it has produced a vocabulary of other  ‘r’ words. Take the word, rationalization, for example.

When I first shared my year-of-buying-nothing-except-food notion, someone asked whether I considered alcoholic beverages to be food. I had yet to think about it. I do enjoy a glass of wine, but that is usually one glass. I could live happily with a lifetime proscription against beer. Decades could pass without gin. But that one glass in front of the fire on a Friday night is its own kind of prayer to me.

Granted, there are some unfortunate souls who equate alcohol with a lifetime of painful addiction. I do not dismiss their challenges lightly. Still, I have observed added consumption with my added years: loneliness seeks friendship in a crystal decanter after all. But I am blessed with a Presbyterian spine that goes all stiff when presented with hedonism. And that is my rationalization of the proviso: “one glass, weekends only.” And as I live in a wine-producing area of Canada, I am able to make that organic and local. Lift a glass to ethical indulgence!

On the other hand, raising the subject of roses forces me to admit that I am an addict. My beloved rose-bed is enriched by annual purchases of Canadian Explorer and Parkland series bushes. Of course, my usual garden mantra is “If you can’t eat it, it’s not worth it.” That means only fruits and vegetables. But roses remain the exception: is that blossom not the face of God on earth?

The hardy Manitoba-developed rugosa strains now have an Artist line: I lust after the Tom Thomson selection. Alas, that is not to be this year. Nevertheless —  and here come the ‘r’ words —  I will research the reproduction of those sturdy seaside rosa rugosa that grow on every roadside here. This revelation came to me while admiring the gorgeous orange hips of the wild specimen that adorns our curbside garbage box. That’s another thing about the presence of the Spirit on earth: beauty reveals itself in unexpected places. The inability to buy what you want with the swipe of a card makes acquiring the truly valued all that sweeter.

And so to chocolate. I have never been partial to expensive candy. In fact, I am that classless lowlife, eschewing truffles in favour of a good old-fashioned bar of whatever has the word “milk” on the label.  So I didn’t anticipate renouncing chocolate as a ‘biggy’ until I found myself scarfing down some dubious chocolate chips from the back of the cupboard. I came to the realization that self-knowledge is tricky. Apparently, you can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, but oneself almost indefinitely. Final `r` word for today? Getting real: in the Year of Buying Nothing, I won’t buy any guff from anybody, including myself!


Rev. Lee Simpson is a writer in Lunenburg, N.S. New posts of YBN will appear every other Friday. You can also check out a short documentary about Lee at http://www.ucobserver.org/video/2014/04/ybn/.
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