An anxious acquaintance struck up a conversation the other day. "Looks like we're headed for civil war!" she said. "This is what you've been getting ready for all along, right?"
"Um, no," I replied. "I don't want to get all apocalyptic about it." I'm actually just having fun and following my sense of what to do next. There's a side benefit of resilience, but I have been milking goats and gardening in the face of ridicule for years now. Given the outspoken children who say "I'm not here to work on a dirty farm" and visitors who can't fathom the composting toilets, it's not like I've been basking in universal acclaim for a low-impact lifestyle.
The farmily and I relish the intrinsic benefits of being connected to what keeps us alive--the very plants and animals who feed us, the soil cycles, the weather that brings sun and rain. Every day is a joy, especially considering how lucky we have been to have a garden that continues to yield sufficient food to eat.
Our bread labor and sweat equity do free us at least partially from fragile modern supply chains. All life is uncertain, but sunrise and seasons are among the more reliable factors out there. I might have less sweet corn than I would like to eat, but that is my own darn fault for planting too early, not because some trucking company somewhere shut down due to covid.
Hawthorn Farm is at a point where we could probably hang out here for a year without leaving. We're surrounded by fruit and nut trees, bountiful gardens, stored rainwater, full woodsheds. We've sunk thousands of hours and dollars and tears into developing this land. This has been to create a non-apocalyptic world, not to survive some tooth-and-claw upheaval. Whatever we have created, it could be gone in an instant no matter what we do. If we didn't enjoy the living, the daily nurturing of the land and each other, then that's truly wasted effort.
Could we shelter neighbors in a wood-heated yurt if an earthquake knocked out winter electricity? Could we feed a significant number of people from what we grow? Do we provide seeds and skills to help resist shocks to the delicate supply chains that currently feed most North Americans? Yes! It's evident that some kind of societal recalibration is in order and at hand. I can't look into my crystal ball and tell you what that will be. But I can start a tray of cabbage seedlings, casting hope into the winter. This might be the equivalent of fiddling while Rome burns, but if you have a better idea, let me know.
Cries of doom and suffering echo through history. The end of the world is always coming. I feel waves of fear when I read the news. Then I go drop off some snap peas and zucchini for a neighbor. Whatever the perils and plagues of the world, I want love to motivate me more than fear.
Snap peas, anyone?