Kinfolk Magazine and The New American Aesthetic


As always, my super younger brother is the only reason I am tapped into the whole hip/new/trendy aesthetic. By the way, if you are into being trendy, it’s all about being Southern and into reading old, hardbound books while growing your own food and eggs and meat. Read Kinfolk for more.

I get it.

I’m in the process of reading the “Little House” books to my kids, and I have been seriously considering home schooling my kids. If I were a hardier specimen, I would do just that. Truth is, I’m not stout. I could never feed the endless appetite of Almanzo Wilder with relentless doughnuts, bird nest puddings, homemade bread and butter, roast beef, ham and turnips.

I just watched The Hunger Games, and damn, if it doesn’t promote a similar way of life.

I read somewhere that all wise people know how to garden and live off the land.

I am frail and tired.

However, my parents live in Arkansas. Feel free to jeer and be weird about it: everyone I know does just that. They lived in the country’s most prosperous suburb and hated it and moved. And when I drive around their new town, I find myself driving around singing Fleet Fox songs at the top of my lungs (those Brooklyn posers?) and feeling at home. God, I LOVE The Fleet Foxes.

You see, for all my sophistication, I am helpless before the appeal of that self-sufficient Southern life.

There must be some strong Scots Irish in me, after all.

Have you tried to overcome family roots and found it fruitless? Do you romanticize an agrarian sensibility?


Filed under Discovering joy

10 responses to “Kinfolk Magazine and The New American Aesthetic

  1. I like the South and living in it. Granted, NC is possibly a little different than Arkansas or Alabama, but it’s all the South.

    I grew up in a rural part of NC and every year my family and my aunts’ families had a huge garden. Like an acre. Not being particularly outdoorsy, I hated working in it, but I have fond memories of watching my mother can tomatoes and green beans and freeze corn. We really want to start a small veggie garden ourselves, and hopefully this year it will finally happen.

    This desire surprises me. I don’t know if it’s because I want my own veggies or some dormant survivalist instinct, but I really like the idea of trying to be more self-sufficient. Sometimes I worry about the skills and knowledge we may have lost now that we are so dependent upon grocery stores.

  2. A bit more: I feel like my mother thinks I have rejected family traditions & way of life by moving to the “big” city of Raleigh and living an “urban” life. Ridiculous, but I think Raleigh is comparable to NYC to her. Anyway, I wonder If she would feel better knowing that we want to have a small garden. Her family farmed tobacco and had a dairy farm for generations, so it is in my blood.

  3. Hey, y’all! You know, with Arkansas right next door, I know plenty of people who have moved there, or just gone to college. Tell the jeer-ers that even Arkansas has colleges. 🙂

    My mom was born in Alaska, and now cans the peppers she grows in her south louisiana garden when she’s not doctoring folks up. It’s cool.

  4. My dad grew up on a dairy farm. My mom in rural Nebraska. She and my grandmother always had a garden. I idealize this lifestyle an awful lot for someone who didn’t actually participate much in it. Even when we lived on a farm (not ours). And I would love to home school my someday children. Who knows if I’ll ever really do any of it.

  5. I grew up on a pig & crops farm (Mid-West not South) and as a result I definitely don’t romanticize an agrarian sensibility. I suppose it sounds nice to have a few animals and vegetables for personal consumption but it makes me sad because family farming as a career and way of life is gone. To make a living at it requires such dedication (my dad has worked 7 days a week, 365 days a year for 45 years) and it’s not financially profitable or stable at all – you have to have SO MANY animals now to even make it financially feasible (my dad is a “family farmer” with 8,000 hogs – that’s on the small side) and the droughts year after year wreak havoc on the crops (which in turn makes it harder to feed the animals). It’s really sad.

  6. Esperanza

    I have to admit, I have NO DESIRE to live on a farm and raise my own food. That shit looks HARD and I can barely cook a meal when all I need to do before hand is buy the stuff from the grocery. Of course I’d probably be happier if I were living on a farm, but it’s hard to see that from where I am now. Things seem pretty great in the 21st century, from where I sit.

    Having said that I think I would be interested in taking care of chickens (though I hear they smell awful) for the eggs and in growing some food in a garden some day. But I doubt I’d ever lust for more than that. I’m just too urban-minded I guess. 😉

  7. Nope! I’m still waiting for my staff to arrive to do my grocery shopping and clean my house. I’ve been waiting for years……

  8. It’s funny — I have been thinking alot about S LO W living — because, I feel, that was my life for so long — no t.v., lots of real books, lots of real food — living in close proximity to beautiful, wild places (but in a small University town). I miss it like crazy — the life I lived in the 90s; It does seems sometimes, when I glance around at my husband, son and daughter — all staring into their screens…that something is so terribly lost right now in our culture. We get out of the city/suburbs of course — go up north to our wilderness … but even then the technology follows… I’m beginning to think we need an intervention.

    My grandmother was from Kentucky but grew up in the suburbs of Michigan and did not want any part of the rural life that belonged to her parents who had lost their farm in the depression. My great-grandmother had her own garden, snapped her own beans on the back-porch — let her ten kids and various grandkids that she raised run wild in the new suburbs of Detroit — which were basically lots carved out of farm fields… my mom talks about how, in the 40’s there was still a horse-drawn cart bringing ice — and her grandmother had an ice-box. My mother was raised by her grandmother until she was 8 and I often wonder if that’s what informed her deliberately slow life — I mean that in terms of her concerted effort to life connected to real things…she’s always been this way and I can admire her for it now — refinishing her antiques and growing her own food and listening to her vinyl records. I go to her house now and it seems so calm — my growing up was like that too (in the lulls between the raging storms)– we didn’t have cable just network t.v. — there were lots of long nights making food (my mother believed in eating late) and music playing. My mother was about quality of life rather than quantity (and most of that was that we didn’t have much other choice because we had no money) and now living a life in the suburbs where sometimes we lose our way in terms of acquisition equalling happiness — I want to reclaim the parts that I admired about my upbringing.

    I think I do have this same kind of aesthetic — I just lose my way sometimes. Thanks for the food for thought — this makes me want to write a blog post about the genealogy stuff I’ve been hooked on lately.



    • Oh — and this summer is my “project vegetable garden/chicken coop” summer. The other day Z said “Daddy, can we have a chicken pook” — and that was enough for him… he lost the debate 🙂

  9. I would love to be able to live off the land but I am a terrible gardener. I have read all the books and know exactly what I should do and what should happen but it rarely turns out that way. I mentioned to my mother that I wanted to try canning and she gave me a canning set four years ago that is still unused. I see it getting dusty in the back of the pantry and think I should really give that a try so often but it remains unused. One day – maybe.

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