Sunday, July 01, 2007

Values & Priorities


Potatoes, hilled
Originally uploaded by Contrary Goddess.

I have probably told this story here before. But my maternal grandfather was a Free Will Baptist preacher, a carpenter, and a farmer. When he got too bad off to put out his usual seven gardens, we went over and planted a garden for him as he only lived about a half hour away from us. Of course, we didn’t tend it at all like he had always tended his. But when it came harvest time my mother called her father over to just have a look at the potato she had managed to grow. It was a huge and pretty potato, and we really did have a good yield. My grandfather looked on at our harvest and said, “I wasted my life hoeing.”

Not that I think he really meant it.

So hilled a lot of potatoes this year. With a hoe. And every time I do it, I feel like I am my grandfather in some important ways, or like I am channeling him, or something. My grandfather always had pretty gardens, and right now those potatoes are pretty. Right now a whole lot in the garden is pretty.

But I know it may not stay pretty. We could fall behind. We almost certainly will fall behind in at least some things, if not in a lot of things. But then again, you don’t hill potatoes to make them pretty. You hill them because potatoes by hilling you increase the yield. And so I hill away, knowing they may not get hilled again, that weeds may well grow up, but that as of right now, I’ve given them an advantage.

I can see where a beginning gardener could fail to see how a body could ever actually feed himself gardening. If a little lettuce, a few beans and some tomatoes just for the summer are this hard to grow, this subject to damage by infertility, fungus, bugs, caterpillars, reptiles and marauding mammals, how could one possibly feed oneself year round? People are so accustomed to having everything all year long that they don’t realize that you can eat seasonally -- that some things store in the cold and some things don’t -- that some things grow in the heat and some things don’t. And then, people are used to having only as much of something as they think they can use right then, and not a surplus they could store for later use. I still remember the year we had an entire truck bed load of october beans and we shelled so many for so long that I would see them in my dreams.

And yet it was just in my grandfather’s generation that it was normal to feed one’s self, one’s family. It is only my parent’s generation, and my own and my children’s, that it became abnormal. How did my brothers cop the attitude that there was nothing in the mountains for my uncles or for them, that they were somehow better than that? What is it that they think is so special about the dirty, stinky, crowded anthill cities they live in now? How do people convince themselves that working for wages is better than hoeing in freedom? Why are strangers preferable to family?

It is about values, you know. What do we value? Family or stuff? Roots or convenience? A false type of independence wherein one does not have to take anyone or anything into account, or relationship. Yes, it is about relationship: Relationship with the earth, with the potatoes, with each other.

It really is about values. We have to NOT value stuff, and having more and bigger stuff. We have to value that enough to not have those things, to even look down on people who do have those things like you would look down on someone who threw trash out the window. Love is not stuff. Security is not stuff.

And frankly, every little bit doesn’t help. In the first world we have to reduce our average consumption (and thus pollution) by 97% (my own calculations). But know this -- the first 10% is easy. Cut your budget by 10%, gosh, that’s pretty easy.

Imagine looking around your house and keeping 3 in 100 things. Taking 3 in 100 trips in your car. Etc. Imagine it. And imagine that it is a BETTER world. Imagine the 97 moments during which you now have time to be

My favorite bumper sticker is

My Child Is

The photo, btw, is old. Those potatoes have largely made themselves (they are early ones), having grown about waist high with the tops beginning to die back now.

5 comments:

Family of Four said...

You make me want to grow potatos. I appreciate your perspective about cutting back too. 3 in 100 yields 97 free moments to enjoy. We are forever trying to purge and enjoy life more with less.

eva said...

Hi!
I remember those times well, when in winter we had potatoes and carrots from autumn. And soft potatoes before new harvest. It was not so long time ago. I am 35 , and it was about 15 years ago. I had my first banana, when I was about 17 years old. Explanation - I was born in Soviet Union.
So I appreciate your world, your work, You. I know, you are on the right way. Thank you for your courage to change our world, to bring change to others as an opportunity, to You - being a change.

the Contrary Goddess said...

Cool people! Glad to see you on here. Please come back. Eva, I'm very interested in your raising, and wonder, well, a lot of things. Having survived a collapse, do you have any tips, because I'm pretty sure one is going to happen.

eva said...

HI!
I`m back :)
Well, I don`t know what tips I should have/give.
In case of money....well, going through money reform,we had a fixed amount what we could change (from rubles to kroon`s), per capita, that was. So even if you had more than others, it did n`t matter. Many people invested in gold or art before the reform. So investing to something would be an option. But I`m not sure, in what, cause, if this world how we know it, collapses, then the values will be not the same, right?
About keeping/having job`s - practical skills were in demand (hairdresser, driver, builder etc). Any "air selling" posts disappeared. Being a hot shot in S.U. time, did n`t mean a thing anymore.
....I don`t know for sure, how to answer your questions. please feel free to email me (you can find it from my profile), or you can ask more specific questions :)
It`s very interesting time, we are living in and we better open our eyes to recognize it.
Take good care and
Happy Birthday, America and American`s (sorry, I`m late)!

the Contrary Goddess said...

Eva, thank you so much for your insights. I think it could be an interesting time, certainly.