Last week at the vide-grenier of Nitry, I was immediately attracted by these four issues (dating from 1949-1950) of “Rustica: Journal universel de la campagne,” a magazine devoted, as the title suggests, to country living. I thought I was buying them for the cover art but found on reading them that I was fascinated by article after article about gardening, driving fence posts, planning a sundial or converting a run-down vineyard into a successful alfalfa business. When you’ve made a living in the ever more frivolous and mind-boggling advertising business for years, the concrete and practical advice offered in these yellowed pages is an antidote to many frustrating perceptions about “the way things are going.”
Certainly there is much that has changed about French country living, but just as certainly there is as much that has not. How-to basics usually apply. And living off your land (not to mention your wits and skills) takes on new interest, to be sure, when the global economy and the quality of mass-produced edibles and other products are tanking all around us. Not to mention the fact that common sense has changed very little, which is why we all should listen, or should have listened, to our grandparents and parents. I’m going to think about what my grandparents and parents have said to me by way of advice or taught me by example. I’ll let you know what bubbles up. What can you remember? I’d love to hear from you on this topic so that I can compile a list of our collected, inherited wisdom. Thank you.