Tuesday, October 7, 2014


I often think that history is made up of one bad decision after another, with a few random mistakes thrown in, sending humanity down deeply uncertain pathways. The transition from gathering and hunting to a culture of farming was devastating in its consequences, but to call it a choice is probably some kind of reification of a drawn out process. I imagine our ancestors as individuals gathering seeds this time of the year, fully aware of a plant's cycles, and just beginning to identify promising landscapes where gathering begins to feel like a harvest. One organizes a community around a few specific plants, and the stability of a food source begins to ensure a more successful birth rate...
Sounds great, but in retrospect...

Here I am 12000 years later, no longer living the agricultural revolution; in fact, that was like, four or five revolutions ago! These weeds that fill our fields, the consequences of our farming, glare at me with dark mirth and bemusement.
Rewilding has been on my mind this fall season. Not that we can ever "go back," but more of a letting go, an undoing... entropy. It is too cold to germinate any more cover crops, and so I let the weeds sprout and do the important job of covering the soil as we move into the shoulder season. Any fertilizer to keep kale and arugula green would be a waste; there is so much microbiological momentum in the soil, that any young crops will cruise along until the freeze comes. The millions of seeds-- from weeds and from the many flower crops gone by, are layered on the surface of the soil, and I can only hope that there are enough worms, beetles, birds, and mice to eat them. (Those among us who still gather.)
Its hunting season also that brings my thoughts to the re-wilding. Dudes with big shiny trucks, wearing crisp new camouflage gear. They grumble about not being allowed to drive right up to their favorite high-tech tree-stand and camera set-up. I thought farming was conflicted with paradox; I feel for these hunters who follow the urge to connect with nature via Cabella's and LL Bean. Such is our human nature: drawn towards authentic experience but employing mediation and cleverness as a means.
Just as with many concepts that pull our interest, rewilding is just another decision. Once we investigate it, it seems clear that part of rewilding implies building our skill set, or actively stewarding natural spaces through conservation efforts. We begin to drift slowly away from an anarchist's rewilding towards a clever progressional plan.

These days rewilding implies using genetic technology and geo-scaping to bring back the wild auroch and the wooly mammoth.  But fall, for me at least, is a tired time of letting things go. Having actively cultivated our space all summer, I'll happily pass through the fields and into the woods, to sit and rewild my brain for a few minutes.

Harvest List Follows
CSA Harvest
mizuna -- a green like arugula, though a little tougher. Good as a salad or slaw (not great cooked.)
red kuri winter squash
sweet potatoes
radishes- daikon
broccoli (for some... more next week)
...and these:


  1. So well put.
    The re-wilding thing I find so complicated -- what is authentic when it comes to nature? I'm quick to judge our hunters here who ask about putting up cameras in our woods and then stare at me in bewilderment when I explain I'd like to keep my woods camera-free. In the end they know the woods better than I do, I'm a city slicker to them and in honesty have far less experience in the woods. Are we not are all nature? some weird spin offs from the beginnings, true, but Nature just the same?
    It's such an interesting time we live in.
    Great to meet you last week. I always look forward to your writing, and Stacy's too.

  2. I knew within the first few sentences that this must be John writing and not Stacy. I love reading both of your thoughts, and still think of Broadturn often. Hope you all are well!