Travel Food Round-Up: Pleasure Beats Habit

Sorry to the Harvest Monday folks; as we were away this weekend, there’s not too much to report.  But I did harvest 3/4 lb of carrots and 1 1/2 lbs of peas for the trip, and I pulled up the last of the early potatoes last week, about 4 1/2 lbs.  And now that we’re back–the blueberries are ready!  So I had fresh blueberries with breakfast this morning, instead of the strawberries that have been sustaining me so far.

We had a great sailing trip, though we’ve come back tired and a little sunburnt.  In decent wind, it officially takes us 10 hrs to go from Ganges on Saltspring Island all the way around the top of the island and then back down through Samsum Narrows back home to the Cowichan Bay.  The weather was glorious, but that’s a long day.  No complaints, though!

What struck me most as I thought about food during our trip, though, was the regular dilemma that I presume we all go through: what’s the best way to change bad habits, pleasure or pain?  In other words, do we change habits naturally once we get a bigger payoff from a new, healthier habit, or do we need to hear the dire warnings and serious consequences of what happens if we don’t change?

Before we left, I joked about our travel food habits: pack lots, eat a little of it, and go to the pub.  We like going out to eat; we both have lots of pleasurable memories and love the feeling of relaxing on the patio with good beer.  We have been fish and chip connoisseurs over our lifetimes, and have enjoyed pub food (yes, we are a little quirky!).  At various times in our travels, we have blown our budget in order to go out, and not suffered for it.

Recently, though, things seem to be changing.  It’s partly a lifestyle change.  We love being at home, and we’re eating amazing flavours out of the garden.  I’m off at the moment, so I have more time to enjoy cooking, and we’re less likely to go out just because we’re tired and hungry.  Now that the weather’s great, the picnics on our own patio or on the boat are better than any other experience we can think of.  And that, I think, is going to finally break us of the pub habit.

We were well prepared for our long days of sailing, with lots of snacks, sandwich makings, and chips and other treats.  We had a couple of really enjoyable feasts on our way to Ganges–and the best parts were the peas and carrots, cherries and blueberries!  We arrived in port in the early afternoon, and had plenty of time to wander happily through the amazing Saturday market.  We treated ourselves to fudge and lemonade and some fresh mini-donuts.  We headed back to the boat to relax in the late afternoon and have a beer in the sunshine.  We got chatting to other boaters moored around us, and were having a great time.  We got hungry around 7, and as we had planned to eat out for dinner, we headed to the pub at the marina.  We figured it was Saturday night, and there was no point in walking back into town where there would be more selection–everything would be packed, and my blood sugar was dropping rapidly!

Our meal was fine.  The beer was good, the oysters were fresh, and the mains were tasty.  But the bill was high, we had as good beer in the icebox, and the view from the patio couldn’t beat the one from the cockpit.  We’ve always known that it’s a rare meal that’s better than the ones we make ourselves, and this was not an exception.  In the end, I think our tastes are simplifying, and the sheer pleasure of the picnic on the boat is going to finally overcome the pleasures of the pub in a way that all the budget warnings or other moments of dissatisfaction never did.

I get that this is what simpler living is all about.  We’ve been working on simplifying our lives for several years, with many successes.  But the missing link at times has been a level of inner fulfillment that we’re finally experiencing now.  Much of our previous simplifying has been a matter of living ethically and without ravenous consumption, as well as trying to live in a financially sensible way.  But in our last living experience, in the city condo, I actually started to feel that life had become TOO simple; we’d let go of too much that was meaningful and creative for us in the name of de-cluttering and simplifying.  That life was still too much about work and not enough about pleasure.

Here, I think we’re finally finding out what simple living is really supposed to be about.  The garden, the sailboat, the house, the small communities are so enriching our lives and giving us so much pleasure, that we are willingly walking away from the things that we used to use to compensate for or recover from the stresses that otherwise occupied our time and attention.  My hope is that as we continue on this journey, in a natural, rather than punitive way, we will continue to reduce our cost of living until we need to work fewer hours to pay for our lives.  And isn’t that what sustainable living is all about?

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