Choices and the Back of my Car

I just had to clear out the back of the car so that it will have space for picking up people at the end of the day. The contents are highly reflective of the choices I have been making recently. The back seat contained: a chainsaw, an extension cord (orange, 50 feet), a case of egg cartons, about 20 fabric grocery bags, one car seat, one booster seat, a mostly-eaten bag of organic blue corn chips and (I’m shamed to admit) a couple of cups that once contained soft drinks, because my kids REALLLY like to go for fast food once in a blue moon, and I’m not as pure as all that. The trunk additionally contains 40 kg of chicken feed and 200′ of wire to build a fence around the garden. That’s what I spent my birthday money on… 200′ of chicken wire. I wanted to delay it, to make the chickens pay for it (they paid for the greenhouse), but if I want to plant the peas, the time is now. We have decided that the best solution for also having a garden is to fence the garden, not the chickens. Good fences make good neighbours, especially when one tends to eat the other.

The wee car (a 2000 Toyota Echo) is also covered with mud from our venture out to the “farm” that is for sale down the road, which has about 7 acres of beautiful cleared land, but whose driveway ends at a burned-out ex-building. We’re moderately tempted by the land, but the price is not right when the first job involves heavy equipment and (guessing) $10,000 of disposal fees. We’ll keep an eye on it, though. We do find that the place we are in is just a leeeeetle small, since I’d like to get a cow someday.

The trunk of the van is even more fun to explore, as I never quite manage to get the straw (from the clean chicken bedding) and the sand (from the beach outings) out of it. We keep thinking we’ll trade it in on something smaller and more fuel efficient, but we do still need to be able to cart around building materials, six people, bales of straw, camping equipment, canoes, kayaks… it is our lifestyle vehicle. I recognize this. I find myself justifying: We don’t take extravagant vacations; we rarely even go camping for longer than a weekend. We go to the beach for the afternoon, or take a picnic to the park. We live somewhere other people go on vacation, so we try to take advantage of it. Every time we look at its trade-in value and consider the cost of replacing those functions, we come down on the side of keeping it. We would rather be driving a new Accent back and forth to work (for example), but then we would need to buy… um… a van.

Ideally, our move to self-sufficiency should reduce the need to drive back and forth to town, but we don’t seem to quite be able to cut those strings. We still want to do all the nice things that urban kids get to do, like swimming lessons and dance classes and music classes and library days and play dates and trips to the playground and (sometimes for mommy) coffee shops and decent restaurants and meditation and doctor’s appointments and dentists appointments… and we never quite manage to make it through the day without at least one of those.

It’s difficult enough to know what the “Right” choices are; it’s even more difficult to stick by them in the face of the abundance of choices we are offered. Each of those things I ferret out from the trunk of one of my vehicles points at a choice that I made. The fabric of my life is reflected in the contents of my back seat as much as it is in the aesthetics of my home or my fashion sense.

So, what’s in your trunk?

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2 thoughts on “Choices and the Back of my Car

  1. I’m pretty sure mine has: a stroller, a nursing pillow, a wrap, an Ergo, cloth shopping bags, bungee cords, and possibly the diaper bag though it might be in the house for restocking. I’m also sure that strewn through the passenger compartment are mittens, hats, a sling, baby toys, happy meal toys or equivalent, and various other trash.

  2. Pingback: What We Need « The Practical Dilettante

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