Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tell me why love isn’t enough

I woke up this morning at my friend the artist’s house, in her red guest bedroom, after a night spend discussing the problems of the universe. Which for me are reducing themselves down to three: waste, farming, and art. The only way we solve the central challenges of civilization is by figuring out what we do with our waste, how we grow our food, and what it’s all worth. It come back to those three chewy dilemmas and C. (the artist) is busy writing her master’s thesis on the combination of the latter two.

The last piece—art—is the one that’s forgotten by the ecological movement. But what good are the rest of the solutions without it? Art—the stories we tell each other, the music we sing, the dances we make—is what holds us together. It’s the only way we achieve community.

I’ve been thinking a lot about community. I read this pickle post, and Tea and Cookies says it better than I can, telling the story of how we can come together as a community to preserve the food we need for the cold season. We use preserving as an excuse, but the real reason we gather is to tell each other stories, to play songs, to cook meals, to bake bread. Canning and pickling is one of the arts that’s being reclaimed, but things like barn-building and quilt-sewing used to be excuses for the gatherings, also.

We’re busy planning another venture, after discovering that C. has a cider press stashed in her shed. I’ve been stalking my neighbor’s rotted-out cider press for months now, and to discover one, whole and in the flesh, filled me with joy. So the plan, as of now, is to gather together garbage cans full of apples and make gallons of cider for the winter. As any regular reader of these pages knows, many of my best-laid plans come to naught. I am often better at envisioning an accomplishment than accomplishing it. Nevertheless, a vast community cider-making operation is a beautiful dream. And if not this year, then the next.

So I woke up late, and wandered across the grass in sunshine, to where the chickens scratched in the dirt. We breakfasted on fresh eggs in a broccoli, chive, and feta frittata, and discussed more over coffee: the coming Big Melt, farmers’ livelihoods and big farms versus little, the purpose of symbolism in art, the advent of digital media, the value of knowing the history of music rather than directly experiencing that music. Again: waste, farming, art.

After spending a day traveling, visiting friends scattered from Caribou to Castle Hill, I wish we were all closer, able to get together to pickle beets and bake zucchini bread, every weekend, or more than that. All of us are scattered across a rural county, looking for companions on the journey, and grabbing on tight when we find them. Even here, I always want something I can’t have. A commune full of friends, a utopian world without poverty or injustice. Instead, I choose to enjoy what I do—a network of people engaged with living life sustainably, who share my joys and values. What else do I need?


Leah Marshall said...

Melissa, your blog is wonderful! This is Leah from Apple! I am going to read more when I'm off! My site is

Melissa said...

Thank you so much, Leah! No new posts until my new Apple comes, though....