It seems that every list of New Year's resolutions is filled with the obligatory decisions to eat better, exercise more, save for a rainy day, and spend more time with the people that really matter.
Carrying out those wishes is an increasingly difficult task, especially in a world where simple economics tell us we have to spend every day working harder and working longer, and we seemingly are always eating on the run. We end up piling on the stress, and that was never part of the plan.
But still, we make that list of New Year's resolutions with the best of intentions. So, here's another crack at it.
In 2009, which just sounds too weird to be real, we are going to eat more of the food that we grow in our extra large garden, harvest from the orchard and raise in the animal pens around the barn. And we plan to eat less of what other people prepare in factories and processing plants, adding things like fructose and sodium tripolyphosphate to our foods, and giving us no clear picture what the health consequences of those things might be.
The coming year will see us make more use of the fresh fish and wild game that are available around us, and hopefully we'll feel better from the many benefits such lean sources of protein contain. We will continue to share these resources with those who are unable to access them.
We will spend more time close to home in the coming year, a decision based on the inevitable increase in the cost of travel, and that fact that we know we have overlooked a lot of very wonderful places. There is still a lot of this great country to see, but it seems to make the most sense right now to conduct your travels within a day's drive. With Kellys Island, Old Man's Cave, Mohican State Park, Cold Creek and many other in-state adventures awaiting us, it just seems silly to get on a plane or drive for days to visit someplace else.
The new year will also bring a ratcheting up of our realistic and legitimate environmental efforts. We will do more of the myriad little things that actually make a difference, and avoid the environmental grandstanding of the Hollywood types who want us to pay no attention to their private planes and excessive lifestyles, but insist we all drive less and pay more.
We have long been recyclers and re-users, and are proud of the fact that in 10 years of raising a large flock of chickens, we've never once had to buy egg cartons, thanks to our network of family and friends. And thanks to that crowded hen house and those chickens' ability to consume anything and everything, we will make 2009 another year without a single clog in our kitchen sink garbage disposal.
We will heat with wood, but plant more trees. We will use the scrap from construction projects to build models for school or start summer campfires, honoring one of Grandpa Markey's commandments from long ago that you never, ever throw a piece of wood in the trash.
I expect the coming months will also force us to be more creative with our time, and spend more of it caring for the previous generation as they move through their later years. We have no way of really knowing just how much sand their hourglass holds, but we will need to treat each day as if we do know.
The new year will likely leave us more frustrated and more stressed with the world around us, and the way it seems to make less sense every day. People halfway around the globe will continue to kill each other over issues from last month, or 500 years ago, and as a people we will feel compelled to step in the middle and try to resolve their differences.
In 2009 we will make tough choices, cross difficult streams and cope with more bad weather. There will be setbacks, and we will get knocked down a few times and our resilience will be tested.
But there will be other times when the sun will set on the water and the sky will be splashed with bright pastels that we are sure we've never seen before, and all will seem right in our world. And the warmth and comfort and security that we draw from family and good friends will, in many ways, make it a very good year.
Matt Markey is The A-T outdoors columnist
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