Here is one of my two American Persimmons, persisting in its romantic vision of someday bearing fruit. With a little help from deer netting, that is.
A friend of mine said something seemingly innocuous to me that I have been mulling over, off and on, for two years. I had been saying to him that I thought it was great that so many people are keeping chickens and bees, growing their own vegetables, and so on. He said, "I guess a lot of people find that to be a romantic idea in this economy."
Romantic? I was stung. A chill wind emanated from him. I was stung and chilled. But I also found a grain of truth in what he said. Damn those grains of truth.The vision of a garden, blooming and verdant, and happy chickens clucking away, bees humming lazily by the hive, is a romantic one. The Secret Garden, anyone? We want to reclaim either the lost Edens of our childhood, or of North America before Europeans discovered it, or of Eden itself. Life was purer, simpler, and more wholesome back in (fill in era) in (fill in location).
How sad, though, that this vision of health and life is so far removed from our daily world that it could even be considered "romantic." But that's how far away from nature we are. Think about it. We buy dirt. At the store. We are dimly aware that there is already dirt in the yard, but we don't know how to amend it (with kitchen scraps to make compost) so we just buy it from Home Depot because we trust them more than we trust ourselves. People on the East Coast buy apples that come from Washington State or even China, while our yards might be just right for an apple tree or two. But how would we know? Generation by generation, we are losing our knowledge of the earth and its own regenerating power.
And that's why this particular back-to-the-land movement is real, and practical, and why it matters. Because we needed this. When we lost knowledge, we lost power, to paraphrase Jefferson. Then we unknowingly gave this power to the corporations, who sell the food to us that we could have grown, or bought locally, without packaging or using fuel. To say nothing of all the middlemen who take a cut: the supermarket, the food distibutor, the truck drivers, and more.
Over the 20th century and into the 21st, corporations have taken control of our kitchens, appetites, and yards while we weren't looking. The global oil industry, more powerful than the U.S government, is perfectly happy that we eat apples from thousands of miles away. Drill, baby, drill. And, by the way, there are lots of other fruits out there besides apples, bananas, and those big tart grapes. What about pawpaws, persimmons, or ground cherries? All are American native fruits that have vanished from the marketplace, replaced by the easily shipped, often bland-tasting fruits from across the world.
You, dear reader, should be mad as hell and not going to take this any more. Take back your lawn from the gas-guzzling mower and take back your diet from the corporations. Here's a "mere sound byte" for you: Get a shovel. Dig a hole. Plant a fruit tree. Repeat. It's one of the most romantic, practical things you'll ever do.