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.