WW2 sense and sensibilities

In this time of scarcity, it is important to remember that we, as a country, have been through worse than this and come out swinging. World War 2 was a time of rationing and scarcity such as this country had rarely seen. The Depression just a few years before had taught people how to live with less. The war years made that knowledge a virtue.

Victory gardens, canning, mending, making do, or doing without became a national war effort. Every scrap of material you saved and used was another piece of material saved for uniforms or parachutes for our boys overseas. Every bit of food that you grew or canned was more food for the war effort – to feed soldiers or those saved from camps. With this kind of propaganda, many Americans felt it their patriotic duty to save everything they could, ration food and clothing and furniture and everything else possible, and learn new skills to make things at home instead of buying them.

We are not in a war. We are in the midst of a virulent pandemic. We are self-isolating. We are protecting those most vulnerable among us. It is hard to feel connected to people out in the world these days with the news focusing on deaths and infections. But remember, every day that you stay inside is another day that the infection curve lowers. It’s another day that you aren’t a carrier to others.

Hang out on your front porch. Take a walk around the neighborhood and wave to people out in their own yards. Play with your kids in your yard. Go on a hike in the woods. Turn out all the lights in the living room and pop some popcorn and watch a movie like you’re in the theater. Remember that we are, actually, all in this together. Buy only what you need at stores. Call to check on elderly neighbors or parents and grandparents. Wash your hands regularly and properly.

There is no propaganda this time. But it is a good idea to remember that those values and skills held by our grand (and great grand) parents are worth remembering for the hard times. And the not so hard times. Gardening, canning, sewing/mending, are basic homestead-type skills that are useful to know and can save money. The Ball Canning Book tells you how to can pretty much everything and Walmart sells canning supplies near the reusable food storage aisle. I am not affiliated with Ball canning, I just found their book really helpful when I was starting out canning and it is still a go to resource when I’m unsure of how long to boil or how much pectin to use.

The one thing that all of these skills take is time. That is usually a very precious resource, but a lot of us are home right now either teleworking or just home, and we have time o our hands to learn new skills and practice these things. Goodness knows we all have ratty towels we can practice our mending on; all it takes is a needle and thread. Gardening requires a longer investment but not much time. Just long enough to keep the weeds at bay and water it until you have a bounty of delicious food for your table. Seeds are cheap and last for a couple of years usually. All you need is a pot and some dirt and seeds. And finally, canning. Or freezing.Canning requires a full day at some point but the yield in terms of food is worth it. I can can a year’s worth of jam in an afternoon that tastes better than Welch’s.

It’s worth resurrecting those old skills to save money and keep from having to buy new things at every turn. My husband has taught himself how to build tables and raised gardens for me. We are not actually crafty people, but we are learning DIY skills. Organic food does not cost nearly as much if you raise it from seed. And you can know that it is truly organic because you are the one who chose the dirt, the fertilizer (if any) and the growing conditions. Seeing jars of food lined up that you grew and caned yourself is one of life’s pleasures. And wearing a favorite pair of pants or shirt longer because you learned how to mend it is an amazing feeling. I even learned how to darn socks! While mending, canning and gardening are what I’ve focused on here, there are so many other skills that can help you save money and provide entertainment during these long days at home. Learn to knit or crochet. Learn to bake or cook French food. Learn something that will serve you during this time of crisis and you will never be sorry.

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