You see it all over. Not your grandmother’s cross-stitch! Not your grandmother’s knitting! Not your grandmother’s [insert craft here]!
And it gets on my wick. There’s the note of triumphant rebellion, the unspoken yet heavily implied superiority to the grandmother. It was bad enough that the skilled craftswomen of the past had their work looked down on at the time; it is even more aggravating that some of those who are reclaiming these sidelined crafts are joining in the denigration of their predecessors and their work.
The bucket list is a relatively recent concept, being invented by screenwriter Justin Zackham – first with “Justin’s List of Things to Do Before I Kick the Bucket” (1999), and subsequently with the film The Bucket List (2007). But the idea of having goals you want to achieve before you die – well, that has a longer history.
Consider William Wilberforce, for example. In 1787, at the age of about 28, he wrote in his journal that, “God Almighty has set before me two great objects: the suppression of the slave trade and the reformation of manners.” (By “manners” he didn’t mean etiquette, but rather the manner of living practiced by society at large – what we might call lifestyle or culture.)
None of this “I want to do a bungee jump, and skydive, and go snorkelling in a tropical resort” stuff for Wilberforce. No, he cut straight to the big stuff: destroy the unethical underpinnings of the global economy, and reform the whole culture he lived in. And having fixed his sights on those goals, he threw everything he had at them.
Not, I hasten to clarify, the kind of low-maintenance gardening that consists of blanketing everything in a layer of black plastic and piling grey stones on top. That kind of garden is low maintenance because there’s nothing living in it, no growth, and no change. (At least until the weeds arrive. Which they will.)
Rather, these books look at how to create a garden that doesn’t need a lot of intensive and continuing effort on your part, because the plants in it are functioning together the way plants function together in nature, and therefore they can, for the most part, manage just fine without you. Working with nature rather than against it.