Leap and the Net Will Appear!
I’m Jane Weeks. In 1998, I moved from Toronto, Ontario, Canada to a tiny hamlet about 1 1/4 hours east of Toronto on the south shore of Rice Lake. I fell in love with my heritage house on sight. I decided that I wanted to live within its old walls before I’d even been inside. It was built in 1855 by William McBride, Gore’s Landing’s first boat builder and coffin maker (his photo is in the Peterborough Canoe Museum). It’s a small and simple dwelling that retains most of its original character. Gore’s Landing is a wonderful hamlet with its very own open-twice-each-week library in the community hall. I love the Landing so much that I self-publish a walking tour booklet for Gore’s Landing visitors and residents.
Rice Lake is also a very popular destination for people from Ontario and from across the U.S. border. Many people have been coming here in the summer for generations. Although my exodus from Toronto was forced (I could no longer afford the little house I’d restored), moving forward was one of the best things I’ve ever done. My professional background is with the not-for-profit sector where I worked as an editor, an administrator, and in publicity and P.R. I began with Ontario Nature (it was then the Federation of Ontario Naturalists) and my love of the natural world has since been the underpinning of my life. I attended the Kyoto climate change summit on a contract with ICLEI (International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives). I also worked with a co-operative theatre company (Tamahnous Theatre in Vancouver), and children’s media (OWL magazines, books and television). When I moved here, I was a freelance writer and editor, then worked as the manager of the Northumberland Orchestra & Choir (a wonderful group of dedicated amateur musicians) and as administrator of Hospice Northumberland.
When I left Hospice, moving forward was on the books again: I took the leap and began Smallbones Studio of Home Arts & Sustainable Living. I continued making natural, vegan and healthful alternatives for the items that we use every day, things such as a bar of soap or a lip balm. I retired the shop part of this Smallbones website in early 2014 to focus on my Etsy shop, but reopened it in 2017.
I love gardening — from organically grown vegetables and berries to native forbes, shrubs and trees. I recently fell victim to lilies, definitely not native, but so beautiful! And, of course, there’s my “Sally Garden” devoted to beautifully coloured willows for basketry. The plan is to eventually delve into willow art and basketry – I’ve always wanted to experiment with living willow structures. Apart from the gardens, I mow very little ‘lawn’; there are paths cut and one small mowed section near the pond. A vegetarian since 1984 and now a vegan, I’m expanding the veg and herb gardens every year.
My deep roots as an environmentalist have taken wing here. Although I don’t have the resources for things like solar or wind power, I’ve been able to implement many of the small things. The septic system failed shortly after buying the property, so I installed a composting toilet and greywater system instead. Composting everything compostable is second nature, and I rarely buy new articles of clothing (there are a lot of thrift stores in this area that support various organizations). I planted native shrubs & trees by the Gore’s Landing dock to help restore a touch of natural shoreline.
Moving forward, rather than barely moving, has been nothing but positive! Living as sustainably as circumstances allow has many rewards — the feeling of making a positive impact instead of dwelling on the negatives is one of the most rewarding.
Let’s each do our bit to the best of our abilities. If you have a story about your take on living sustainably in your part of the world, I’d love to hear it and perhaps share with others on these pages. To me, simple living means respecting this marvellous world — all people, all plant life, all animals, all natural resources — to feel joy in what we’ve been given, and to continue to learn, to share and to consciously feel the joy. Thank-you for visiting Smallbones!