Rural Resourcefulness

December 09, 2012  •  9 Comments

I love to photograph items that depict a way of life.  Resourcefulness, particularly in rural areas, is certainly a way of life in Atlantic Canada, and part of the culture of Nova Scotia.

I grew up in a very (very!) rural part of Nova Scotia and my parents were older than those of my friend's parents. When I was 14 my father was already 68.  He was born in 1925 and the idea of reducing, reusing, and recycling was a part of his make-up, more so out of necessity than anything else I would imagine. Growing up with limited resources, and limited access to resources in a rural area, leaves you with a different kind of respect for items than if you have easy access to whatever you need whenever you need it.  If you have to drive for an hour to a decent department store, or better yet, 3 hours to a major city, you stretch your resources and often make use of what you have on hand.

I'm pretty sure that for the first part of my life I didn't even realize that you could buy buttons.  If you needed buttons for a shirt or sweater you were making (yes, making), you made your way over to the button tin and began a treasure hunt for enough buttons that matched.  And, before you threw away an old shirt, or cut it up for rags, you cut the buttons off and put them in the tin. I actually remember enjoying "playing" with buttons when I was a kid.

Above is a photo of the large pot my mother uses to make everything from boiled lobsters to homemade pickles and chow.  It is easily decades old - 5 to be exact, and I don't think she would dream of replacing it with a new shiny version.  In fact, I expect that if someone even attempted to give her a new one it would sit in the back of the cupboard or she would offer it to someone else.  Personally, I think the pot is part of the recipe and I love the way the inside and handles are worn.  There is comfort in that pot, whether it is full of pickles being cooked or if it is empty.

 

My mother's salt container is the epitome of resourcefulness.  It is an old honey container - the spout is perfect for filling salt shakers and perfect for times when a large amount of salt is required (like pickle making time).  No need to run out and buy a container to store salt when there is a perfectly good one to be saved from the trash can.  And, no need to toss that little scrap of aida cloth if it can be used to label and decorate the bottle!  I love everything that this bottle stands for: innovation, resourcefulness, and of course... delicious pickles.

I started thinking about this blog post when I was out shopping for a gift for my boyfriend's mother.  We decided to get her a cover for her Kobo and when we were in the store we learned that they no longer make a cover for the version she has.  Her version has been discontinued.  What?  It is less than a year old.  Now there are newer versions with newer covers.  What happens to the old versions when people "must have" the latest and greatest?  If you wonder that yourself I encourage you to watch this short video: The Story of Stuff

I hope you get to experience or create some rural (or urban) resourcefulness this holiday season.  If you do, or have in the past I would love to hear about it in my comments section, please share :) 

And, stay tuned for a special Christmas blog post near the end of the month.

 


Comments

Wanda(non-registered)
I really enjoyed this post Amanda. It made me smile to remember my "growing up" years. How many times I heard "Call Edith, she will have a button to fit that!"….and of course she did! I love the simplicity and the depth of your writing….it always makes me stop for a moment to reflect :)
Clark(non-registered)
Amanda I can not thank you enough for this site. I have been urged to comment since I first encountered the photos and the blog posts, however, I struggle to find the words to properly acknowledge their quality. Together they allow the viewer to see an important part of the world through your eyes. Then to go further, they stir up memories and experiences from my own life that were pushed down below the horizon, until your depth of insight allowed them to be rediscovered.
I too grew up in a small rural community in a household where throwing something away was a foreign concept and to buy new when the old worked just fine was the norm. My dads version of the button jar was the wooden keg filled with salvaged nuts, bolts and washers of various sizes and description. The most valuable lesson I learned from this behavior was the development of problem solving skills that remain useful throughout my life.
Thank you again for sharing your many gifts and I look forward to all your future postings.
Apriil(non-registered)
I had such a strong sense of nostalgia while reading this post. I remember very well that my mum's mum's buttons lived in an old black and yellow tobacco tin...and there were always stray pieces of thread in there, along with the occasional needle. :( I will have to ask my mum where that is now.
Natalie Fancy(non-registered)
Amanda~ I too wish society could move away from the “overdosing on stuff” and place more value on the time we spend with the people we care about. Memories are priceless and last a life time. Love the way you bring your memories alive and share them with others. Natalie
Anne Murphy(non-registered)
What a wonderful posting and your timing is so apropo! Recently, as we have hurried in and out of stores to shop, Dave and I have been overwhelmed with the abundance of choices and SO much merchandise. It almost paralyzes me when I enter the stores. I will share your posting with Blanche and she'll be delighted her buttons inspired such a lovely piece of writing and a wonderful reminder to us all in this season of "want" and "waste" to reconsider before buying a newer model and to think about new uses for items like honey jars!. I will look forward to your next blog!
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