Deep in the winter of 1989, I went with a group of seminary students and one of our professors to visit the far away land of Hungary.
It was just before the old Eastern block fell. Free falling into a world of communist customs agents and Russian tanks thundering through what were once farmers’ fields beside the road.
It was cold. It was dark. It was so very, very different. (Which was, after all, the point.)
Alternative Context. A program designed to get wanna-be preachers outside the familiar worlds where they grew up and into the lives of those who seemed other.
Food was quite an issue.
Red pickled cabbage, the only vegetable we encountered.
Coffee so dark and thick it didn’t require a cup.
Something that resembled liquid peanut brittle for breakfast.
A fabulous bowl of fish soup on the shores of Lake Balanton. If you didn’t mind picking out the eyeballs.
And the infamous “pig jell-o” all gray and jiggly on a platter, full of suspicious chunks, at a village luncheon.
So much I didn’t understand, long before my days of local, seasonal food.
And so much I’ve learned.
We’re having a similar learning experience at our house.
The resident herd of Newfies are going species appropriate real food.
Controversial, perhaps, in some circles. The next logical thing in our world.
They have orthopedic and digestive and allergy problems I haven’t been able to solve so far. Problems that limit their lives.
We’re starting with turkey and, while we have some skill development to work on, it looks like they’re pretty thrilled.
My fears are disappearing.
There was the whole (perceived) germ thing, after years as an O.R. nurse. (Which is way more me than what they’re eating!)
And the hunting and gathering thing which I’m doing lots of myself, still complicated a bit by that recent fall.
Quantities. Timing. Keeping them from mugging each other for a chicken foot.
I started out anxious. And hopeful. And pretending to be confident!
Which is exactly how I’ve felt about every big change in my life.
My local farmer friends are thrilled.
Bill’s stocking up on dishwasher soap.
The ironic thing is that I’m feeding our dogs essentially what we eat. Clean, local, seasonal food.
Sources I trust.
Support for farmers I know.
The beasties might be feeling like they woke up in Hungary for a while. And there’s the whole thing about shifting to one meal a day! Adjusting to that may take a bit.
I’m hoping they’ll be glad to learn new things. I’m still learning from that trip to Hungary.
And grateful now, more than ever.
Life is for learning!