Today's guest blogger is the effervescent Melissa Lowe, who has been both my college roommate and fellow adventurer in Europe. She enjoys tea and toast and traveling. She is an excellent baker, cook, and person, with a taste for the more meaningful moments in life. Enjoy her thoughts.
There are many distinct advantages to living in a world awash in technology. Friends scattered around the globe are easier to reach, calling friends states and countries away costs pennies or nothing. But in many ways our culture of correspondence has changed and makes that easy contact sometimes more difficult to maintain.
I used to write many actual letters but have stopped or slowed as a result of many factors. People move, I have moved, I've lived close to and far from people in constant rotation. The Post Office has now long since instituted price locking so that any stamp you purchase will suffice forever even if the price-per-stamp rises one or a few steps. Why this doesn't inspire me to buy stamps by the hundreds, I do not know.
When my older sister, and many of my friends her age, first left for college, I kept in contact with them by letters. Emailing wasn't as big; I myself was still using an archaic comcast.net account. Facebook was still limited to college students, and texting was unbelievably expensive. Letters made sense as the most cost effective means of transmitting more content in a fun and gratifying means. Three years later, I left for college with the habit of putting pen to paper but with the introduction of Facebook and the distraction of studying, my letter writing dropped off to a much smaller roster.
Two summers between college I worked at a camp with little internet and even less cell reception and that roster swelled again. Those summers were filled with late nights talking and looking at the star-filled sky sipping terrible hot chocolate that tasted wonderful in the way that winter beverages on cold summer nights can. Our staff house was heated with a wood-burning stove (that we were supposed to use in the summer), and our costume closet stuffed with dresses from the seventies and eighties.
I miss those days. And not only because the people were a delight to my soul and every day I got to play with pound upon pound of flour, pan upon pan of chicken, and smile upon smile of volunteers and campers. Those days, outside the grasp of technology, making food from scratch, were as close as stepping into yesterday as I have gotten.
Recently my reading list has included the sentiments of many locovores and other types of food lovers who try to appreciate the convenience of low cost food but can't quite recover from the long-term debt we incur with our current agricultural systems. They express sadness at the loss of the art of the butcher, the diminishing ability to find summer, fall, winter, and spring eggs that each have their own protein contents and work best or worst for souffles or pie crusts.
When eighty percent of the state of Illinois is covered in the same two plants, the world changes.
When American is distracted by the next new shiny toy, the newest phone, the best internet deal, we don't notice these changes because the technological shift doesn't fit in our pocket.
Our interests have become pocket-sized. And I'm guilty of it too.