“People move because of the wear and tear of anxiety.  Because of the gnawing feeling that no matter how hard they work their efforts will yield nothing, that what they build up in one year will be torn down in one day by others.  Because of the impression that the future is blocked up, that they might do all right but not their children.  Because of the feeling that nothing will change, that happiness and prosperity are possible only somewhere else.”

from Life of Pi, by Yann Martel

I’m reading this excellent book right now, and gems like the above jump out at me with broader significant meaning than just the context (of a family moving from Tamil Nadu in India during the reign of Indira Ghandi to Canada to start over).  Anyone (sound familiar?) who has ever found it no longer possible or tolerable to live in a place that stifles all your efforts to thrive and provide a future for your family will recognize the sentiments in this passage.  The fact that it was Canada is interesting, considering how many of us in this challenging, disturbing political climate here in the US have sometimes found their thoughts migrating north over the border.  (Don’t tell me it’s never crossed your mind!)  When you’re desperate, even arctic shock isn’t a deterrent.

I know many people, including my own family and ourselves, who came to this conclusion, that they needed to find a new place to live, for their future and/or children’s sake.  If they stayed, everything they tried to accomplish would be torn down, nullified.  They’d be suffocated, snuffed out.  So many  people in this country never get the chance, or take the risk, to start over in a more encouraging, progressive atmosphere.  They and their families exist and die in “quiet desperation”.

I’ve never understood how people can do that, just give in, settle, and die.  But having lived in post-depression era Ohio for two years, just waiting for the moment we can afford to move and start over before we die, I can begin to see how it happens.  People just lose all hope, incentive, motivation, become apathetic and set in their ways, and never get out.  Their families have always been here, and so shall they remain.  Even tornados, flooding, or more intangible threats to their wellbeing won’t motivate them to upset the status quo.  They’re resigned.

Ironically, these tend to be the same ignorant people who vote (if they vote) for some dangerous psycho clown who wants to return us to “the good old days” of bigotry, racism, phobias, and isolationism, ensuring that their quality of life and the very earth itself will be even worse for them and their grandkids.  Go figure.

But this isn’t another political rant (ha, could have fooled you).  It’s about why people leave it all behind to start over in an unfamiliar place.  Political/economic refugees and migrants know this reality all too well, because they have no choice.  Having lived in this backward midwestern state, I hear mind-boggling horror stories of extreme poverty, deprivation, and struggle that extended into this century, and continue to influence people’s mindsets and behaviors.  My background, which I thought of as normal and average, which allowed me mobility and education that I took for granted, turns out to be exceptional privilege compared to the typical disadvantage around here.

If I felt intellectually and culturally stifled somewhere, I would just make it my business to move on, but people at this economic/social level considered themselves fortunate to just find a well-paying industry job for life, with a pension, be able to buy a modest house with a lawn in a blue-collar suburb of a blighted city, and settle in for the long haul.  Their under-educated kids just mill around indifferently, with no future prospects.  It probably doesn’t even occur to the folks who stayed behind after the economy crashed to risk starting over elsewhere, even if they could.  They’re afraid of change, progress, the unknown.

Sometimes, it takes both desperation and vision to uproot.  Having nothing left to lose, you visualize a place on earth to build upon, to leave better for your children than you found it.  You know ultimately you can’t control the destructive consequences of the majority’s stupid actions, or save the entire earth from being destroyed, so you try to preserve a small piece of it, and with it your integrity and sanity.  You try to create a place for you and your children to breathe, feel accepted, accept others, learn, imagine, invent, without fear of being crushed by ignorant savages.  It’s a hard place to find, but is there an alternative?

“If you’re not dead yet, you’re not done yet.”  Trite, but true.  There’s always a choice to go forward, or get left behind.  Finding a better, not just tolerable, life is worth the risk.  You only have one.






Erev Still Lives

You can interpret that subject header any way you like!  Some typical still life scenes in prep for erev.  Note the homegrown sweet pimento pepper.  And of course the ubiquitous obligatory flowers!

Meanwhile, E is plotting another new bread in her secret lab.  This one rose overnight out on the warm landing, so it may be semi-sourdough, we’ll find out.  More pics later.

I want to add that, as frustrating as it’s been having to delay our move for technical difficulties, which time will fix, the forced delay has inadvertently provided us with a training period in many aspects of life, from psychological to culinary!  It would take a whole separate post to describe the difficult but necessary and productive changes it has put us through.  It’s like we ourselves have been in an experimental test kitchen (a very small one!), being tweaked, twisted, punched, risen, and baked, until proven if not perfected.  We hope to pass along our new improved results when we finally get there.

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‘Shrooms, Man, at the Gorge P.1

Today we hiked Clifton Gorge, with its deep rushing river through very steep ancient cliffs.  Some young daredevils were illegally jumping in and swimming the dangerous rapids.  You can just make them out in a photo, way down below.

We hit the biggest motherlode of fungi and mushrooms ever.  The varieties and colors were incredible.  There were tiny pointy mushrooms that were a brilliant shade of scarlet, large turtle-shaped ones massed  in colonies, and amazingly vivid fungi shelves on trees.  There must have been over a dozen species.

There were old hollowed-out trees and caves in the towering rocks that rivaled any sculpture, and many brilliant wildflowers.  Down at the peaceful Blue Hole, groups of large soft-shell or leatherback turtles were basking, and fish were darting around.

After our hike, we adjourned to HQ for beer and iced tea, then to our ice cream place under the flowering vine arbor covered with bright trumpet flowers and hummers, and finally stopped by the little country cemetery to visit some of E’s family.

I’m posting this in two parts.  Here are all the fungi, and some dramatic rock and tree sculptures.

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Lizard Day at the Fen P.1

We finally made it back to the fen, and it was worth it!  We enjoyed a rare sighting of many turtles (Spotted or Painted) in the water, and also a large water snake (Queen?).  That was like a reptile jackpot, at the fen.  It made our day.  I wasn’t able to photo the turtles, but if you squint, you’ll see the snake.

We also observed ducks, lots of songbirds, many honeybees and interesting insects swarming over the late summer wildflowers, and monarchs.  The water was way down, and we did not see our beaver friends.  The flowers and plants were spectacular.

I’m posting this in two parts.

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Staying Productive

I finally did some yard work, bad back or not.  Mowed the whole jungle, pruned trees and plants, cleaned up the raised beds, tied up some floppy tomato plants that were hiding in the tangle, cut some herbs for drying, and so on.  Meanwhile, E continues to help the neighbor with repairing and painting her interior, while serving as a listener to her emotional process, and also found the time to bake excellent zucchini/banana breads, one of which she gave the neighbor.  The latter seems to be reviving and getting back on her feet, with E’s help and encouragement.

Here are some misc. scenes around the place.

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