Monday, April 30, 2012


Once upon a time, my parents were aspiring back to the landers, in keeping with the ancestry of peasantry on both sides. They still have books in the basement about living on a few acres and cooking while using a minimum of the world's resources. We never took vacations to big cities, and always ended up hiking in the metroparks or in the middle of nowhere somewhere in the mountains along the eastern half of the country when we weren't going to something "historical."

My mom spent the 1970s in southern Ohio exploring the wilderness, excavating Hopewell burial mounds, and teaching kids at summer camps about building fires and what to eat in the wild. I still know the names of most of the wildflowers and what parts can be used for what. It was a long time before I realized that most of my peers weren't into this kind of thing, that knowing things like constellations and herbal lore were deemed a bit weird so I kept most of this to myself, though I know I don't know enough to keep me sustained in the hypothetical wilderness that's nonexistent in Clevelandia.

It's said that we become our parents, and I inherited my dad's enthusiasm for loud tunes and my mom's love of Brit-lit and nature. Having come late to the Foxfire party, which is currently fascinating me to no end, because being a city slicker, I probably won't be building my very own log cabin or having to learn how to skin a rabbit, but to know what's edible, how to make my own booze, what corners to cut, how to make do, and in the event of something crazy, have some idea of what to do. My mom's amused by my interest in this stuff and it seems that her collection of Foxfire books ended up in a Goodwill box at least a couple of decades ago, so I'm hoping that I can scrounge some copies up somewhere, because this is how the people before me just a few generations lived, and we in the city often look down on those who have way more practical knowledge than we do.

I spent most of yesterday in the cool sun mixing humus with compost and beads of sulfur to plant berry bushes along the railroad tracks, throw down more seeds and spend time with the neighbors, crushing leaves of lemon balm, lavender, and thyme between my fingers for the pleasure of the smell.  coming home with dirty hands and dusty jeans, the adrenaline of accomplishment fueling endeavors on the back porch, where I filled the strawberry pot with tiny plants with big roots, looking forward to when there will be greenery rather than plastic containers filled with dirt.

One of my friends once pointed out that The Kids are now emulating the 1970's in the very worst way, and I guess the ersatz environmentalism of wearing "green " products while disposing of last year's iPhone for the newest model and the newest after that is the equivalent of gas guzzling volkswagen busses for road trips now unaffordable to the average kid working part-time and polyester muumuus with floral prints adopting an air of bohemian and natural but uncomfortably synthetic. My sister has lots of save the earth and World Wildlife Fund slogans plastered to her walls but leaves the space heater on the whole day and the ceiling fan running while she's gone and tells me I'm a control freak for turning lights off in rooms that I'm not in. Then again, she's never paid a utility bill and I do.



  2. You pay your bills? Weirdo.

    I've no desire to add down-home dance steps to the Snoopy Dance that you'll never see, but at the very least, that third volume with all the plant stuff is totally worth a purchase.

  3. dmf,
    thanks! I'll definitely check these out. Not planning on going off the grid as I like the city, but that whole DIY element for me is still completely there.

    someday when you grow up you'll understand. But yeah, that volume is particularly swanky. A couple of the later ones have similarly super useful/interesting stuff too.

  4. It was a long time before I realized that most of my peers weren't into this kind of thing

    I hope they were down with catching frogs and snakes, at least??

    P.S. So were you planting berry bushes for the general edification of the populace?

  5. If,

    I was a weird kid with few friends, since everyone else wanted to watch tv and I wanted to read books or be outside.

    As for the berries, they're outside the fence along the railroad tracks, so I'm assuming that both the masses and the creatures of the not-really-forest will partake!