“Most people of my grandparents’ generation had an intuitive sense of agricultural basics: when various fruits and vegetables come into season, which ones keep through the winter, how to preserve the others. On what day autumn’s frost will likely fall on their county, and when to expect the last one in spring. Which crops can be planted before the last frost, and which must wait. What animals and vegetables thrive in one’s immediate region and how to live well on those, with little else thrown into the mix beyond a bag of flour, a pinch of salt, and a handful of coffee. Few people of my generation, and approximately none of our children, could answer any of those questions, let alone all of them. This knowledge has largely vanished from our culture.“
by Barbara Kingsolver | Orion Magazine March-April 2007
Spring. A time of new beginnings. A time to take nourishment from our roots to our winter-resting branches and grow a little taller–no matter how old we are.
And for this purpose–to give you an idea of the soil you grow in–I’ve posted a link to the Where I’m From template permanently in the sidebar. This “meme” is still circulating to good effect out there in the online world. And closer to home, even wife Ann sat down and wrote her own version for her reunion. Here’s mine.
Let me emphasize that my only role in this is to make available two things I didn’t have any part of creating: 1) the original poem by George Ella Lyon (which you can find via a link on the template page) and 2) the poem template with blanks and prompts that guide you to create your own version of George Ella’s original. I am simply the messenger.
I will see George Ella again this summer at Hindman at the Writers Workshop, and tell her once more how popular and poignant her work has been.
If you haven’t sat still long enough to ponder what you’d put in the blanks of the template, what are you waiting for? Finished, it will be a gift to your family. And to yourself. Trust me, it’s worth the time.
…Abby had found the broken remnants of a tailless kite, and entertained herself (and us) for a delightful hour under the blue prairie sky.
That afternoon I witnessed in a most striking way the contrast between the old-fashioned play of children actively entertaining their bodies and imaginations in the out-of-doors, and the modern, physically-passive, over-stimulating kinds of “recreation” that happen to kids almost exclusively indoors and may involve use of the thumb muscles alone.
“I like to play indoors better ’cause that’s where all the electrical outlets are” explained one urban fifth grader.
Read More (quick-loading Scribd pdf). This is an early draft, editorial comments welcomed and appreciated.
For those of you who responded to the Leave No Child Inside link last week, please take note: You can share a comment to the piece on the Orion site. The comments already posted are worth reading, if only to know that you are not the only one concerned that your grandchildren don’t know one tree from another.
Here is the comment I left a few days back.
I am truly encouraged to find the pendulum swinging, finally, back to a healthy center. I left biology teaching in the mid-80s partly because I no longer found enough field-interested students to enroll for my “Plant Life of Virginia” class at the community college where I taught.
The catalyst of Richard Louv’s writing has brought to the surface the uneasiness many of us as individuals and institutions have felt in the distance between all of us–not just youth–and the outdoors during the cultural shift towards indoor electronic inactivity, with the false belief that humanity is somehow apart from and above the cycles and rhythms of the natural world.
I have felt until now largely alone in my hope that, in my blogging and essays, I might reconnect ADULT readers with the small wonders of the ordinary. I have a renewed courage to persevere aggressively in this goal here in my Blue Ridge area of Virginia.
I also have a broader context in which to discuss my “memoir of landscape”, Slow Road Home –a Blue Ridge Book of Days, as it also serves to bring readers back to center on the “pace, place and pleasures” of the natural world.
I am so encouraged, with renewed hope that there are receptive ears to hear this message in our times. I think Mr. Louv is to appear soon in Roanoke not far from me, and hope to be able to hear him speak.
And this: Richard Louv will be reading these comments and making specific response on March 13 and March 20. This could represent some really valuable exchange of ideas, experience and hope on this important matter of reuniting ourselves (adult and child alike) with the wholeness that comes from simply being attuned to earth and sky.