Tuesday, October 12, 2010

On Chestnuts and Video Games

Our neighbor walked
down the street this weekend
sharing bread bags full of chestnuts
with all the neighbors.
They had fallen from one tree
in his family's backyard.

I asked if I could glean a few
from under the tree,
and his reply was along the lines of
"knock yourself out."

So yesterday afternoon
I paced a little grid under the tree
and I discovered
a growing sense of delight
every time I spotted a shiny brown nut.
I could feel the biochemical splash
of positive reinforcement
upon each discovery.

I realized that this is the same
biochemical reinforcer that hooks
so many people on video games.

Before my nieces and nephews
begin mocking me
for leading such a dull life
that I get excited finding chestnuts,
let us remember that
the whole reason our bodies
give this kind of rush of happy
upon discovery
is to help us survive.

Finding food
is the reason we're wired this way.

For those who came before us
(and perhaps for us in the future)
our true survival depended upon
on hunting, gathering and growing.

Here's another quirk of modern culture:
If you ask someone
how to eat a chestnut,
9 out of 10 people will say,
"Roast them over an open fire?"

Easier to cut a cross in the top
(so they don't explode while cooking
and so you can peel them easily afterwards)
and roast them in the toaster oven
at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes.

They are nutty and bland,
but they smell like heaven.
They provided last night's protein
at supper.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Microcar Museum Pilgrimage

Last March I finally stopped
at the Microcar museum outside of Madison, GA,
after passing it for years on my way to visit family.

It was one of the more fabulous museums
I have ever visited.
Row after row of tiny little cars,
most from Europe after WWII.

A lot of these shiny little cars
came to my waist
when I stood next to them.

If you're ever near Madison, GA,
this is a fine, fine place to go.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

The Next Generation

While I garden and raise chickens
for my own eating and living pleasure,
I have something else always in mind as well:
Teaching the children.

I remember the little girl next door
digging her first potatoes,
and marching home singing,
"We will have these for supper
in the morning!"

Or teaching the little city child,
who came back in February
ready to pick strawberries again,
that food grows in its season.

Most recently,
I remember the shock
on the face of the young fellow
who mows the front yard,
when he apologized for not
cleaning up every single leaf.
I told him it was okay,
those leaves would become dirt.

It was obviously the first
he'd heard of it.

This week he mowed
when I wasn't home.
I came home to find
the grass catcher full of grass
leaning against the front door.
He came by later,
proud that he had left the clippings
for the garden.

These clippings went around the grapevine,
just as my grandmother used to put
organic material
around the base of her grapes,
creating rich soil
and sweet, juicy goodness
every summer.