divendres, de març 25, 2005

A Meco State of Mind (English)

Tonight Jon and Kim and I travelled west and north to the hamlet of Meco [MEEK-o], outside of Gloversville. Neither Gloversville nor Meco, though, are really the subject of this blog. Jim and Laurie reside in Meco, rather on its erstwhile outskirts, in an ecologically friendly home. We dined with them, their two dogs and one cat on a meal consisting of cheese, deviled eggs, mixed greens salad, vegetarian Shepherd's Pie, beets, pickled turnip, kim-chee, home-made bread, and for dessert rice pudding with choice of dressing, either maple syrup or "bourbon-raison sauce". I had two smaller portions so I could try both, and both were excellent, in the French sense of the word. The meal was fantastic, made even more special only by the fact that most of the ingredients were raised on the same land where Jim and Laurie have raised their homestead.

Their home sits on a sizeable tract of land adjacent to state lands. They have pulled as many raw materials for the house from the land on which is stands as possible. What the land couldn't offer, they acquired largely in barter from salvage. Recently the acquired an iron wood-burning stove, which cost them almost as much as the house has so-far. They generate their own electricity from solar panels on front of the house, and the home itself is heating largely through passive solar energy. They have a green house area off the front of the house which also serves as a passive solar collector. The greens from our salad were grown there. They have some 30 maple trees tapped behind their house from which they extract the sap to make maple syrup. They have extensive gardens where they grow much of the food they eat for the whole year, stored in their root cellar. Their bathroom has a composting toilet that requires no flushing and produces no unseemly odors. One more amazing fact about their home is that they have done all the work themselves, save a few of the larger projects with which some of their friends have helped them.

The house itself, although not yet complete, is very attractive. It's sits atop a ledge alongside a wooded rise. The front of the house is basically a long, steeply pitched glass slope facing south. The rest of the roof is hunter green metal roofing while the walls, filled in with hay are covered with a clay based slury now a handsome beige color. The windows and doors of the house wre hand milled by Jim, and are painted the same hunter green as the roof. On the south-east side of the house is a smiling sun-face etched into the clay. They have several outbuildings, one of which they use as a sawmill, another as a sugar shack for the maple syrup, and the primary one, the barn. The barn now is used for storage, but originally it was their base of operations before the main house was standing; they worked in one part of it, and lived in another.

The whole complex, the whole endeavour is an amazing story of dedication, dilligence, cunning, artistry and intelligence, and well worth copying. Jim and Laurie, through their hard work, have returned to the earth and have become good stewards of it, and are a fine example of what is possible when people decide to do it. Of course, given the current state of the world in which we live, we couldn't all do exactly the same, but if we each tried to make a smaller ecological footprint on the world, all our lives would be better for it.