by Mimi Hedl


When we decided to live as homesteaders, when we lost our tether to the regular world, and ventured out, more or less, on our own, we learned to value everything that came our way, initially. Our junk pile became an eclectic mix of scrap iron, wood, and cloth; the building blocks of our chosen life style.

Over the last ten years, slowly I’ve dismantled this arsenal, hauling off scrap iron, splitting wood for kindling, and taking old clothes to thrift shops for them to ship overseas. I still hang on to buckets of broken pottery, old canning lids and weathered oak, sure I’ll make a mosaic like Gaudi, yard art like Qua Nin done in canning lids or endless projects out of the beautiful oak. Whatever, I still hold on to some of my dreams, regardless of the possibility they’ll see the light of day.

Often when I see children scavenging through dumps in Third World countries, I feel a kinship. I love to see value in everything, the possibilities of turning the bright colors of electrical wire into baskets, newspaper rolled into coils for hot pads. The ingenuity of people who don’t have much inspires me. If I ruled the world, everything made would have to have second and third lives. Nothing would be disposable. We would understand the evolution of each item. I would not get far in the corporate world where capitalism reigns, hence my life as a dreamer on a homestead where no one pays any attention to my thoughts.

You won’t be surprised when I tell you I string my Clementine peels. I find pleasure in slowly peeling that delectable fruit, trying to take the skin off in one piece, so each peel will dance on my string. If the peels come off in bits and pieces, I put them in a coconut shell, put the shell under the wood stove, and let them dry during the day. Then those pieces go in a gallon jar, and when full, I put them in my blender and have beautiful Clementine peel for tooth powder, pancakes, sauces, muffins, and of course biscotti.

I use fishing line to string the peels. I put a button at the bottom of the line, to secure the weight as the peels dry, but also because I like buttons and use them where ever I can. They seem like punctuation marks, making a statement by their presence. You must string the peels when fresh. If they dry even a bit, your needle will not go through the skin and the peel will crumble. I keep one string of peels in the south window, where I see the bright orange all winter long. When spring comes, the strings of Clementine peel go out to branches of trees, where they finish their life, dancing in the breezes, turning black over time, and eventually finding their way to the compost pile. (Minus button and fishing line, the button back in the button jar, the fishing line, having met the end of its life, into the burn pile.)