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Foodie Lit
Laurie Easter's All the Leavings

All the Leavings is a beautiful memoir about leaving, how people leave our lives, sometimes temporarily and sometimes, those we love leave permanently. Author Laurie Easter applied the word “leaving” to this process of “thought lines of loss and grief” and to less intense actions of how society changes and what leaves a culture.


When I asked for an example what left society that Laurie missed, she immediately replied, “Oh, that’s easy. Written correspondence sent through snail mail, which of course

just used to be known as the mail. I love the ease and convenience of email, but

handwritten letters in the mail are something to be treasured. I still have bound stacks of letters from my childhood and young adult years from old friends and relatives. I cherish seeing each individual’s unique handwriting on the page.”

Laurie has an unusual life. She dwells in a remote area off the grid. Her bathtub is outside, she birthed on the floor of her cabin and she lives much of her life as part of nature. I asked her what role nature has in her life, both every day and symbolically, even to helping to structure her memoir.  “I live a very rustic lifestyle off the grid on the edge of wilderness, so I can’t write about my life experiences without describing the nature I’m surrounded by and interacting with on a daily basis; therefore, nature figures prominently in the book.”

Laurie Easter.jpg.webp

Laurie is a caregiver and was called upon to care for others as they were very ill or near death. She cared for her daughter when she was gravely ill but thankfully recovered. She told me she believes in living reality and facing difficulties such as illness and death.


Despite crises in her life, throughout her memoir, joy and sorrow existed together.  “Joy and sorrow live simultaneously side by side in all aspects of life. It’s just that usually one is more accentuated than the other depending on the experience. I think it takes cultivation in our awareness to see both at the same time while it’s happening. And really that’s not necessary. Lived experience is one thing; reflection upon lived experience is another.”


One of the touching and joyous moments Laurie writes about is with her grandson, who as a toddler, would repeat actions he liked with her, such as spinning her chair and climbing on for a hug, cupping her face with his little hands and calling her “lovey.”  These are the small moments that sustain us during times of sorrow or difficulty, the small quick moments that we might forget, that “are a true barometer of a life, so to speak. The quotidian, the fleeting. If we are able to slow down and give those moments our full attention, they will sustain us when life gets heavy.”  I very much like Laurie's concept of paying attention to the small, beautiful moments with other people, in nature, in solitary contemplation that buoy us up in times of despair and loss that so alters our reality that we cannot find our path forward.


Laurie describes the passing of her husband as the most difficult thing she endured. She says that her saving grace were the demands of living off the grid—they required so much from her that she realized she was capable and could survive despite her sorrow. Having gone through the death of a mother and a spouse within a few weeks of the other, I find comfort in her words and perspectives. It is necessary to find the joy in times of sorrow, to be present for the moments of love and companionship and to cherish what we have loved, even when it leaves.


Thank you, Laurie for a profound and well written memoir that provokes thought, memories and bravery to live in each moment and to face each day.

Cabbage and potatoes are easily grown in home gardens and so I developed a Potato-Cabbage Soup as a hearty and comforting soup, perfect for winter days on a homestead, and comforting enough to be paired with the “leavings” that Laurie shares with us in her memoir. 

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