Unlike the geographical line from Connecticut to NY, which is subtle, our visit to Ridgefield was a welcome and wild change from where we had been staying in NYC>
As the train chugged out of NYC, the trees got bigger and bigger, eventually emerging from between colonial white houses that mark the rich town of Ridgefield. My friend and her partner are not wealthy, they are probably in poverty according to the government, but they live a rich life without ever buying food. Yep, they only dumpster and forage all their meals, and they still get more than any human needs to consume.
We met up with my friend Stephanie, another college friend who I’ve corresponded with mostly through snail mail since leaving, but have had the chance to see a couple times since we graduated. She welcomed us into her humble abode, a small square of living space that featured a bed, a writing desk, a counter, a wood stove, a kitchen counter, a small loft with another bed, and a bathroom. Although we were in the ‘suburbs’ now, this space—a carriage house above the garage that they rent from the house owner—could have easily fit in the living room of our relatives in Brooklyn.
As we settled into the simple but well structured space, Stephanie offered us some breaded ‘chicken of the forest’ mushroom, with ketchup, a flavor I haven’t eaten in a long time. We chat while they cooked us a dinner of dumpstered vegetables and recently foraged fungus. We sat on their patio for dined on stir-fried eggplant, shitake and other misc. mushrooms, a cold salad with veganaise (a delicacy from the dumpster) and corn tassles, the first time I’d eaten those. I thought they tasted really good but in hindsight, that might have been the veganaise. Afterward, we grabbed the popcorn maker (dumstered from walgreens) and walked through some lawns to get to a friends house.
We watched Samsara with her two cute kids, about 10 and 14, with curly blonde hair, eating popcorn and drinking basil tea. We walked back home and settled into their upstairs, perusing their increidble library of field guides as we drifted off to sleep
When we woke up in the morning, after they had gone to work, we walked around town, took their advice and got a free pass from the library to an art museum, then found after walking there that they didn’t open for another hour and a half, so I napped in the grass while Amil juggled. Once it opened, we found that 3 of the 4 exhibits were in transition. The most memorable thing was not a photo on the wall or a ‘sculpture’ of a shot glass or painting of Spongebob, but a giant camera you could sit in. In consisted of a dark room that you could sit in and watch a pin-hole project the image of the street outside (upside down) and anyone walking down the sidewalk.
Stephanie came home from work early, ready for a long Memorial Day weekend of mushroom hunting, and dropped us off at the train station, where we caught a ride back to Amil’s brother’s house for one more night in NYC.
It was great finally getting to see how Stephanie lives. We grew a lot together in college, both invocated and awe-stuck by the information we were learning. Since parting ways with graduation, we’ve kept each other up to date and in check on our lifestyles and ideals. It’s so wonderful to have someone to keep me rooted on the things that really matter to me, especially as I move so transiently from one community to another. Her living space shows a practical way to live sustainably that doesn’t sacrifice comfort or community.
For more info about how to live off the land,., sustainably, and as an active part of the community, check out Stephanie’s blog:http://stephaniescavelli.wordpress.com/