By Debra L. Karplus, MS, OTR/L
Once upon a time, long before Mozilla Firefox, there was Foxfire. Whether or not you considered were “counterculture”, you, may fondly remember the Foxfire magazines and books, written in the late 1960s and 1970s that told tales of mountain lore, gave advice and demonstrated “how-to” on many basic skills from the folks living in the southern Appalachian Mountains. Their philosophy preached lives of simplicity with a back-to-the-land mentality.
In the four decades since Foxfire, the world has become nearly unrecognizable. Everyone seems to be plugged into some sort of electronic gadget, cell phones that do everything, portable music devices that put baby boomers’ transistor radios to shame, television with a zillion channels, electronic reading devices, and, of course, computers. Perhaps it’s time to unplug Little Jacob or Emily from their video games and try something “new”, that’s actually quite old.
Say yes to yummy yogurt.
Yogurt didn’t always come from a supermarket in little white plastic containers. Try making your own yogurt from scratch with your grandchild. You’ll be amazed how easy it is. Heat milk in a large pot until it boils. Cook on low heat for about ten minutes. Add yogurt starter (which is just already-made yogurt) to it. Warm at approximately one hundred five degrees for about four hours in a warm oven, food dehydrator, or yogurt maker. Chill. Serve with berries, vanilla or eat unflavored, or make smoothies or a frozen dessert treat. Search online for precise measurements.
Something’s sprouting in Grandma’s kitchen.
Why buy expensive bean sprouts at the grocery when you can make the varieties and quantities you want right in your own kitchen using no special equipment? Even the youngest grandchildren can grow sprouts at your house or theirs. From the health food store or supermarket, purchase seeds such as alfalfa or beans such as lentil, mung, adzuki, wheat berries or other foods that grow into edible sprouts. Soak a small amount in a jar overnight. Rinse daily. Keep in a cool place on your kitchen counter. Within a few days you’ll magically have sprouts to eat. The little ones will enjoy snacking on them or adding to salads or sandwiches.
Time to make tea for two.
Skip a trip to the woods to go foraging; you may find greens and herbs to use in your kitchen near home. Before you start digging out dandelions to make your lawn look more beautiful, learn some of the uses of dandelion greens in salads and cooked dishes; they’re loaded with healthy vitamins. Chamomile and clover grow like weeds, but can be used to make delicious hot tea, iced tea, sun tea, or sweet tea. You and your grandchildren together can learn to recognize these tasty treasures that are likely to be growing around your yard.
Finding free firewood is fun.
Depending on where you live, you may have a fireplace or wood-burning stove to supplement your home heat, or perhaps you enjoy a backyard fire in your fire pit, a bonfire or a campfire. When you shop for groceries, you may have seen the small bundles of firewood selling for five dollars each, or more. Don’t waste your money. Saunter around your neighborhood with a cart or wagon and scavenge for free firewood. You’ll certainly find little sticks for kindling and if you’re lucky you’ll find the bigger burnable stuff, too.
Expensive theme parks and pricey toys can enchant a child for the short term. But the experiences they’ll remember most with you, their grandparents, are the time you spend together
doing interesting activities. Create memorable bonding adventures that are priceless near home for free.
Author biography: Debra Karplus is a licensed occupational therapist, teacher, and freelance writer for national magazines including Back Home Magazine, baby boomer, and grandmother of two. She lives in a Midwestern college town. She has been published in Grand Magazine in the past. Learn more about her at http://debrakarplus.blogspot.com.