September 7, 2012


Last night as I was brushing my teeth, I realized with a start that I have become a hippy.  Unaware of the gradual transformation, I've neglected to let my hair grow long and accumulate a wardrobe of long swirly skirts, so I don't look like a hippy yet, but give me time . . .

I guess it all started back when I first met my Farmer, in 1993.

He had some earthy interests – in-ground houses being one of the more literal (and novel) ones. Academic pursuits aside, most of what he liked to do would have been well-suited to a commune. In fact, after he graduated college, we spent a summer on one in northern Georgia. We read the Moosewood cookbook and made falafel and lentils. He taught me to chop wood. We double-dug garden beds and made paper (fun) and mead (yum) and banana wine (yuck). I learned to manage a woodlot (sort of) and fish and gather eggs. For a very yucky couple of weeks, I copied some of the crunchier folk around me and let my leg hair grow. **shudder**  Not for me, that one.

Time passed. We went our separate ways, him to Japan to teach at a junior college, me to finish my last two years at college, then to get my own job teaching English in Japan, 20 train hours south of him. Some of the other ex-pats near me tended toward hippy-dom, but I didn't know any of them well enough for it to rub off much.

A few years later found my Farmer and me, married, visiting “our” commune again after a road trip 'round the country. We planted figs and elderberries and reminisced, and went home to garden and dream of a round house built on a meadow.

But so far the hippy influence had been pretty mild.  It cranked up another notch when, visiting a friend home from the mission field, we were introduced to “missionary medicine” - a wicked-tasting concoction of garlic, onion, jalepeno, ginger, horseradish & vinegar, reputed to cure anything.  The idea of curing garden-variety illnesses with, well, garden ingredients, appealed to us, and we made some.  We tried it out on our sore throats shortly afterward and were impressed at the results.  Then, as our babies began to arrive, we started learning about and using food-based remedies  rather than bottles from the pharmacy shelves:  ginger for nausea, garlic oil for earaches, elderberry for colds and flu, herbs for allergies, honey-lemon for coughs.

A few years further down the road, a friend who made her own laundry detergent inspired the DIY streak in me to give it a try (three tries, actually, till I found a recipe that works in our hard water). An article connecting breast cancer (which has shown up in my family tree more than once) with the use of anti-perspirant and a certain feminine undergarment prompted me to search out deodorant alternatives and go (discreetly) without either, for a time.

And then a year or two ago, tooth problems and the potential bill for a root canal had us searching out other possible solutions to dental assumptions, and ended with an infection healed, and me (& eventually the rest of us) trading toothpaste for baking soda.

But the real clincher, the straw that broke the yuppie's back so to speak, was the “no-shampoo” movement, as championed by my sister. She posted teasers on facebook and soon had me looking up links where people raved about how gorgeous their hair became (after a greasy month or so) using only baking soda to wash it and vinegar to condition.

I was dubious. My hair, surely, was the exception. Oily at the roots, notoriously dry at the tips, and too short to put up in the proverbial ponytail – no way would this work.

But … baking soda & vinegar instead of xeno-hormone- and chemical-laden shampoo … ? I had just spent a month reading up on perimenopause and its exacerbators (xeno-hormones is one of them), and I was too intrigued to not try it.

And so the last frontier has been crossed.

It has been just over five weeks since I last used shampoo: I am officially a “dirty hippy.”

But you know what?  It's fun!  I am happy. Making my own “shampoo” and “deodorant” and laundry “detergent” gives me a sort of mudpie-making, thumbing-your-nose-at-the-rules pleasure.  It feels good to use products whose ingredients I understand on myself and my family.  I won't go back.

You should try it!

: : :

You might like it.

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