There’s a tendency out there to look at basic human functions like eating, sleeping, and moving as lesser, unimportant facets of our human existence. What’s important is the mind, the thoughts and ideas that shape the world. In my years studying philosophy the tension between the things of the world and the things of the mind was a constant question mark. How does the body relate to the mind, to our emotions? Can we separate the two, and if so how? Is the mind simply a ghost in a machine, or does the machinery somehow impact thought’s ghost-like presence?
Once upon a time I thought thinking deep thoughts was the only way to penetrate these questions and get a glimpse of their answers. Having a family changed that. Right away a hint of an answer was there, in the transformation of pregnancy, the experience of new life, the seemingly insignificant milestones parents like to post about on Facebook, the decisions over what to feed my children. All of a sudden I saw the deep significance of those “lesser” things – the way we eat, the way we move, way we view our bodies and their less-than-pretty functions. I realized that, in the words of one of my favorite philosophers, Maurice Merleau-Ponty:
The world is… the natural setting of, and field for, all my thoughts and all my explicit perceptions. Truth does not inhabit only the inner man, or more accurately, there is no inner man, man is in the world, and only in the world does he know himself.
The things of the world shape us. It’s not enough to cling to an ideology or uphold a certain set of rules and regulations. Life to its fullest can only be experienced by full immersion. Our bodies are more than vehicles for knowledge and thought; they have the potential to present an encounter with the profound. And you never know where you will find that profundity. It might be in a stunning landscape or it might be in a kind deed from a total stranger. Or if you’re very attentive you might even stumble upon it while doing the dishes.
So what does this have to do with our blog? Well, this is a blog about very simple things – eating, moving, bearing and raising children. But these things are the meat of life. They aren’t superfluous and they’re certainly not superficial. What we do with our bodies has everything to do with the profound, precisely because it is most basic and fundamental. Simple things like the way we move during the day and the kind of food we eat aren’t just outward gestures by which we denote which “camp” we belong to, but are part and parcel of what it means to thrive as a family, as a community.
So there you have it. And speaking of basic and simple things, flu season is upon us and one of the best ways to combat it is with a nice big pot of bone broth. It’s easy to make and will make you feel like a rough and ready pioneer. Here’s how you do it:
1. Throw a whole chicken into a pot. You can also use a bunch of beef marrow bones (about 3 lbs should be sufficient).
2. Fill the pot with water until it covers the animal.
3. Throw in a bunch of onions, celery, garlic, and carrots. No need to cut this stuff up – just throw it all in. You can even leave the skins on the onions. (Did I mention this is really, really easy?)
4. Bring it to a boil. Skim all the stuff that rises to the top, lower to a high simmer, and cook it all day. If you want to save the chicken meat, take it out after about 3 – 5 hours so it doesn’t get too mushy. Take the meat off the bones, then throw the bones back in the pot until the broth is finished.
5. Strain the broth (we pour it into mason jars) and use it or freeze it.