And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. ~ Kahlil Gibran

Friday, June 12, 2009

Change is in the Air

They came together, the garage sale signs and the moving trucks. This weekend has already been full of both in my little town. For Sale signs are springing up, sometimes 4-5 to a block. Folks are opening their doors and saying "make an offer, everything has got to go".

It is unsettling, really.

I usually do a lot of shopping at thrift stores or garage just seems to make sense that if you can get something 'pre-owned' for so much cheaper than paying retail that you would. I guess I just don't have a lot of pride that way. I was so happy when I started seeing so many garage sales, with so much great stuff. Folks are selling really nice furniture, toys, books and first it seemed like an amazing stroke of luck. I was carefull, since the economy has affected us here at the Barefoot Manor right along with everyone else. I had in my head certain things I was looking for, sizes for the Sprout's clothes, prices I was willing to pay for certain things.

And then I started noticing that a lot of the houses with garage sale signs also had 'house for sale' signs. I started hearing mothers talking to their husbands about how it was sad to see Grandma's hutch go, but where would they put it when they moved? I started seeing that a lot of the things that were on sale were things that had been in use by these particular families not so very long ago.

Suddenly, it wasn't such a bonanza after all.

Our neighbors, who have only lived in their house for 2 weeks longer than our own residence at Barefoot Manor of 10 months, are having a huge garage sale. Both the Mom and Dad are out of work, and they are selling everything not nailed down. Noone has said as much, but the feeling I get is that they are trying to get enough money together to keep them going until one of them can find work. Every day I see the Wife out, clucking her tongue at a garden that is not doing well. She comes over and looks at my bed of onions doing so well and mentions that she will have to try my raised bed system next season. Unspoken is the thought 'if we're here next season'.

Down the street is a family that has had a garage sale every weekend for the last month. Every weekend there is new stuff out in the yard to replace the items already sold. There is a little girl still playing with her toys that are spread on blankets with little round price tags on them. The mother sits in her lawn chair in the shade by the house every day, all weekend long. Only when a car stops does she get up from her perch in hopes of making a sale.

I almost feel guilty that we are doing so well. Mr. Barefoot and I are both still working, with no rumors of either of us losing our jobs. We are still being carefull, making sure to fill the garden to capacity and working on food stores. We are still making sure to focus on getting our debt paid off and making sure that there will be heat for the family this winter. But we are doing well. When I go to these garage sales and hear the families talk of not knowing where they will end up, or see that they are selling beloved items that they would rather keep, it breaks my heart. A part of me feels it's wrong to even think about buying the items that they love, and a part of me wants to buy something - anything - in an effort to help them out, if only in a small way.

Change is in the air, for sure. I think some good will come from it all - eventually. Folks will start to value the little things again. Family will regain it's importance in our society. Folks will learn that we can survive, and even be happy, with so much less than what we think.

But getting there is going to be a strange road....


The Rambling Taoist said...

Ya know, I've always felt this way about Estate Sales. In fact, I tend to get emotional when I go to them. All the various items laid out were part of the history of some family and, now that the patriarch or matriarch has passed on, this couch or book or cake pan is passing from the family itself. And that always makes me a tad bit sad -- sometimes to the point that I get misty-eyed.

If I could, I'd buy all non-food items at garage, yard, moving and estate sales. It makes me feel good knowing that we'll be providing a new home for once-cherished items.

And yes, there have been times when we're on the other side of the fence -- having our own sale to keep a roof over our heads. My wife has to do most of the selling because it's simply too heart-wrenching for me.

barefoot gardener said...

We've been lucky. We have sold things to get or do things we wanted, but we have never been in a spot where we had to sell in order to have somewhere to live. I guess we are just lucky...

Kati said...

It's scary, how much this feels like reading stories of the great depression of the 30's, and the families evicted from their homes..... And yet, it's happening RIGHT NOW, not just stories from 80 years ago. And still, we're being told that the economy is on the mend, things are improving, the financial concerns are winding down and business is picking back up. For whom??? It's hitting here at home, finally. Tay and I have been so sick, that part of our morgage this month has gone to pay for meds for Tay and myself. *shaking head* And that's AFTER Scott and I both cashed out a bit extra at work (him: 401k; me: sick leave)..... (Don't worry, things will improve, I've got faith, and neither of us is out of a job, or anywhere near losing our home. This is the first time in almost 10 years that we've been unable to pay the full morgage payment on time. The bank's good to us, as yet. They're willing to post-pone a month longer, at this point, knowing how close everybody is to losing their homes, and knowing that quick repo on a long-term loan is NOT a great idea for them either.)

Wishing you and the Mr. and the sprouts a great summer, hope that things continue to bustle along at Barefoot Manor. Wishing your neighbours the best of luck, from here on out. May their future improve.

Lisa said...

A very thought-provoking post to be sure! Seems most days of the week there is a sale set up at an abandoned gas station or lot in town. Mostly old clothes and junk, but still, I feel bad thinking of these folks spending all day trying to sell their few items for the cash. Makes me wonder how desperate things are for them.

Fr. Peter Doodes said...

"There is a little girl still playing with her toys that are spread on blankets with little round price tags on them".

Barefoot, some eloquent lines that indicate the real heart of the problem. When loving parents have no option but to sell off their childrens toys in order to pay the bills what can they do next?

To confirm Kati's words, I have just listened to radio news headlines that reported our (UK) chancellor saying that our economy was lifting out of recession followed, next item, by the fact that another half a million were out of work.

Meanwhile the director of a UK bank that was responsible for a large part of our economic disaster is living in luxury in the South of France. No selling his little ones toys for him then...

barefoot gardener said...

I will be sending good vibes your way in hopes that both you and Tay get HEALTHY and that you all are safe and well....

It's so sad to see. Ramen noodle sales are way up in my area...I wonder how many kids are living on both ramen and mac 'n cheese this summer?

Fr. Peter-
I can't explain the heartbreak I feel every time I drive by that little house....or the rage I feel that the 'fat-cats' who had such a great part in this mess are all living in their mini-castles off in the country somewhere without a care in the world.

jenny said...

HAd to leave a comment on this one:: I see a lot more yard sales in this area, too. As much as I love them, I can't afford them right now, because with my husband's part-time, $7.50 per hour job, we need every penny we can get. But still, even then, I think we are better off than some, because we already were thrifty before our money got tight, we already shopped yardsales and grew gardens, so it was not a new thing for us to do. We have 2 more payments left on our car, and then, except for the mortgage, we are debt free.

Hope you and the Barefoot family continue to do well. xo