A couple of months ago Mother Earth News ran the introduction to Jenna Woginrich’s Made from Scratch: Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade Life. I read the article as I sat in the eye doctor’s office waiting for my pupils to dilate. I can’t imagine a more pleasurable way to lock my eyes into a position that makes everything else foggy. Woginrich’s style and sensibility really stuck with me.

So last week, I went looking for her book, and lo and behold, my local library had several copies. I ordered one to my branch and started reading. I gobbled up this book just like I would gobble up the honey that Woginrich makes on her rented farm in Idaho. It’s full of practical advice – how to raise angora rabbits, how to sew your own clothes, etc – but also carries a sense of willing camaradarie about this whole process of “self-reliance.”

In the introduction she says,

I think the real trick to finding that sense of satisfaction is to realize you don’t need much to attain it. A window-box salad garden and a banjo hanging on the back of the door can be all the freedom you need. If it isn’t everything you want for the future, let it be enough for tonight.

Don’t look at your current situation as a hindrance to living the way you want, because living the way you want has nothing to do with how much land you have or how much you can afford to spend on a new house. It has to do with the way you choose to live every day and how content you are with what you have. If a few things on your plate every season come from the work of your own hands, you are creating food for your body, and that is enough. If the hat on your head was knitted by your own hands, you’re providing warmth from string and that’s enough. If you rode your bike to work, trained your dog to pack, or just baked a loaf of bread, let it be enough.

Accepting where you are today, and working toward what is ahead, is the best you can do. You can take the projects in this book as far as your chosen road will take you. Maybe your gardens and coops will outgrow mine, and before you know it you’ll be trading in your Audi for a pickup. But the starting point is to take control of what you can and smile with how things are. Find your own happiness and dance with it.

As I sit and dream about a place like Woginrich’s, I find great hope and comfort in the idea that I need not have all I dream of now. My compost bowl on the counter and the two heads of cabbage in planter boxes on the deck are enough. And I think I”ll make some bread today.

And if you have time, sidle up to Woginrich’s words and find contentment and ideas for yourself. You’ll be glad you did.

Cover of Made from Scratch by Jenna WoginrichMade from Scratch by Jenna Woginrich