Saturday, February 4, 2012

Close To The Dirt

Walking alongside roads, collecting aluminum cans, we were doing our civic duty, keeping the countryside beautiful. More likely we were finding metal to recycle for a few dollars, practicing
economy and ecology as entertainment. For myself, no conflict arises out of recycling.

I was born in Normandy, the birthplace of northern frugality. Then to retrace the ecological roots of culture, my paternal ancestors would assert that the southern French were born with dirt in their genes. Soil holds the evidence of everything. Water is the fluid vehicle of all effluence; and air? I prefer not to see it or taste it.

I was raised in the South-West of France, school-year in the city and every vacation spent in my ancestral village. Surrounding woods were rife with mushrooms, fruits and berries. I later followed a different personal path through deserts and prairies across the sea. Mother, the Normand, never understood my preference for the countryside; mud afoot, long workdays, snakes and bugs were not 'her' idea of pleasure. By default and isolation I became an accidental poet and a compulsive gardener under various conditions and climates.

I now live in the land of too much milk and not enough honey. Cows are fat with hormones, bees are dying, and milk makes no butter-cream. Honey is expensive and fruits largely tasteless. I found an ancient tree in town which produces delicious crunchy apples. Amish fruit stands full of organic goodies dot the highways in good weather.. Meadows and ditches are replete with edible plants. Fallen trees provide free fodder for the wood stove... Now venison and turkey are the last abundant offering, though catfish and bass rank highly as well in private ponds, to avoid river pollutants..

All is not yet lost; counties are too poor to spray herbicides on roadsides. Abandonment has preserved a few elderberry bushes about town, gnarly trees keep on producing pears and persimmons despite owner's obvious carelessness. Birds congregate in the tall walnut trees, watching the climatic effects upon insect populations provides unbiased windows into a near future. No matter the circumstance, it is the single gesture, the individual thought which restores balance in the larger world. A small measure of neglect can be instrumental in conserving nature.

With businesses closing down and the tax-base eroding, prices have surged everywhere. Our own lifestyle resembles that of pioneers, though not always by choice. Knowledge gathered across cultural divides, accumulated as insurance against inevitable adversity. I remain close to the dirt; i don't mean the fingernail and muddy toes kind of contact, but an ongoing respect for natural principles. That which comes from the ground shall return to the ground-sort of continuum... The rest is waste...and I have made that a lifelong project—to refuse as much as possible -- to re-purpose creatively-- and--to use everything to its natural conclusion.

And the ground wins! despite the general lack of interest in learning about the effects of human habits upon the environment at large. There is an ascetic pleasure in minimalism, to use little, to throw little, what a passion i feel in the art of conservation. Oh yes art, because a well spent day is an art form. A well planned meal eaten around a common table is basically sharing the fruits of the soil (and I don't mean cocoa puffs scarfed hastily at the kitchen counter). Finding reasons to live along natural ways and disseminating what we find there to save ourselves from commercial encroachment (emphasis on what can be done at home) or anywhere you are.

Winter has saturated the clay and fields are swelling with my favorite greens, a cure is in the air, it's free and it's good for me, now, is that pleasure or survival? All I can do is to protect myself with the natural antidotes to chemical assaults committed by corporate zeal, (in my cantankerous consumer name). Dandelions and mushrooms, berries and kale, seaweed grown in unpolluted gulfs, one texture after another, i taste rich and healthful abundance.

Now, on to composting ideas and gathering joy; i have friends waiting for tips and recipes or scientific reports about energy development. And I have blogs to read for more organic discoveries, most of all, for positive news to spread.

Enough about the writer and forward to the writing and reading!, ns


  1. What a lovely photo of the owl! Did you take that?
    Your writing is pure poetry.
    How fantastic that you can buy from the Amish stands along the road. I wanted to be Amish for years. But I found out you can't just "join." And I coudln't really swallow the doctrine, but I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the lifestyle. Maybe I was Amish in another life....

  2. this owl has a history, i found it in my husband's old papers, he doesn't remember taking it but it was with his college photo class projects, so i took it for an outing on my little verdi blog.
    actually the Amish come to us, we even got a ride from the man, as he knows we have no car. ouch--those buggies are brutal on the end zone..comfort is not in their lexicon..and they usually do not speak to gentiles, but i struck a pal-ship with them because my philosophies resemble theirs (economy-ecology) and i buy what i can't grow on my little plot. and donate cloth or glass items they thrive on. yes i had such a fantasy once..that or quaker..but i am far too free spirited for the communal life.