NL Grandmudder: The Original Minimalist

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Minimalism has become a huge trend in consumer culture for the past few years, popping up in nearly every aspect of daily life. From the shift to smaller homes with clutter free interiors, to getting back to basics in the kitchen using locally grown food, not to mention DIY recycled clothing projects.

Minimalism is a movement and a way of life that most millennials have been dabbling in, one way or another. What was once a matter of necessity, is now trendy.Our economic slump has been an eye opener for all of us to look back, in order to move forward.

What most don’t realize, is that our born and bred Newfoundland grandmothers are minimalist extraordinaires. They were strong, prudent and happy. They could teach us more than any perfectly staged Instagram shot, featuring stark white walls adorned with a handful of succulents.

Most of them were born in the pre-confederation era, many during the depression of the 1930s. They wasted nothing, and made do with everything. The main takeaways from the current minimalism shift, is to decrease clutter and be a great re-user, in turn, becoming more eco-friendly and sustainable  in our daily lives. Simply put: Less noise-more solitude, less junk-more “real.”

During the days of our grandparents childhood, their way of life depended on fishing, kitchen gardens, and subsistence activities, like picking berries and cutting wood. Our grandmothers were brought up as homemakers, gardeners, seamstresses, needle workers and community organizers. Clothes were cleansed in a washtub with a scrub board. Vegetables were grown in a family garden, tended to by the whole family, and kept in a cellar for the cold months ahead.

Clothing was often handmade by their mothers, and then passed on through each child, until finally – when too many holes prevented it from being turned into another frock or article of clothing,  they were used as dishcloths and cleaning rags. When sweaters got too old, they were unraveled, and the yarn was used again to make new ones. Homes were heated by wood stove, and often times, hooked mats made from re-purposed flour bags covered the floors to keep the heat in.

Our  grandmothers continued to live by these values and this way of life throughout their adult years. Most of us have memories of them bottling preserves for the winter and using basic cleaning essentials like baking soda and vinegar. Their kitchens usually having the necessities only,  like passed down, high quality utensils and dinnerware, and the nicest décor of all-simple, fresh picked wild flowers as a centrepiece.

There is no better role model for minimizing our life and getting the most out of the little things, than those who survived pre-confederate Newfoundland. The excess and ease of modern day life, has rendered the majority of us clueless on how to live more simple and more fulfilling lives. So why not take a page out of the book of Nan, and try a little of your own gardening, re-purpose fabric for other household items, and de-clutter your home of anything you know you’ll never have a use for.

ARTICLE BY KAYLA NOSEWORTHY

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