Sunday, May 23, 2010

Give me a bowl of spicy soup and a rotting log, and keep your pills and fancy cars

I was listening to Huun Huur Tuu today, while washing dishes. Thinking, in a dark way, that music like this is disappearing in our world...

Organic music... Huun Huur Tuu is deeply observant of the natural landscape, has a textural intricacy grown from rich drones, evolving timbres, layered melodies... To paraphrase what could take me a long time to express, they play a song called The Rotting Log, which seems strongly evocative of and reverent towards the organic process of decay and rebirth.

I continued to wash the dishes and it occurred to me to contrast this organic folk music with the compressed, hollow, machinic music our culture produces in great quantities today. Thinking about this led me to a simple conclusion:

We've been duped, this past century or so, into believing that the organic is primitive and simple, and that inorganic products of our own construction are complex and advanced.

This is especially true in allopathic medicine, where plants are disregarded but reductionist synthesized pills are the norm.

Hell, a good bowl of spicy soup is more complex than any pharmaceutical. Slowly pushing one's fingers under the leaf litter into the forest soil, grown of so many generations of rotting logs, is a superior experience to sliding one's hand across the curved pitch of a sportscar's hood. Huun Huur Tuu is far more intricate than any computer-generated, -aided or -facilitated music.

The inorganic, artificial products of our modern world do not have intricacy on their side. Instead, they are powerfully reductionist: honed, focused, simplified and amplified. The dosages are too strong, the speeds too fast, the sugars and salts overly preponderant. The beats or riffs or hooks are overemphasized, repeated ad nauseum.

Like F1 hybrid seeds, the inorganic products of the modern world are big, showy, and sweet - but they will not reproduce. After we have mined the last cultural/mineral/organic morsel and reduced it to a product, the inorganic and artificial will be revealed for what it really is: dead.

Lambsquarters are better than spinach...

I discovered after pulling them from the top of the compost pile and sauteing them with flax seeds. They are covered in dusty, well, bigger than dust, more like fine grit-sized particles that are soft.

Both the spinach and lambsquarters are enjoyed by leafminers, and bear the watery-looking/excrement-filled tunnels excavated between the upper and lower cuticle layers of the leaf. Truly astounding. The spinach leaves have been destroyed by leafminers, but lambsquarters much less so.

Lambsquarters decided when and where to germinate: the fertile sheep-sh/t compost pile and in the middle of the garden - between the tomatoes and at the top of the pathway next to the swale. The spinach was seeded months ago and found the heatwaves alarming, I'm sure. Spurred by our waterings, it germinated according to industry germination standards in crumbly, water repelling leaf compost piled on top of layers of newspaper that we used to blot out the turf.

A happy, healthy individual is less likely to be devoured by leafminers or stomach ulcers.

I realized that lambsquarters was not a weed, but desirable and nutritive. Always a worrier, I became concerned that I had pulled my best seed source. I am certain that no gardener can weed all the lambsquarters from any plot, nor can any cook harvest all either. So long as I have bare earth, I'll have: lambsquarters, amaranth, and purslane. All three are good, healthy and tasty stuff - better than my fiery, woody radishes that I forced to grow.

***

Between rainstorms we did an allopathic treatment on the lawn - mowing. Our holistic approach - allowing it to go wild, while supporting when necessary (sometimes that means mowing!) - has allowed us to develop a strange friendship with our lawn and an outdoor first aid kit (plantain) and salad garden (dandelions and violets). So you see, there's two ways to kill a lawn; it just depends on your objective and perspective. "Gotta mow down these clover flowers." or "Gotta wait until the dandelion finishes flowering so I get more dandelion next year and less grass."

***

"Oh. The chickweed," mouthed Jared as I waved my arms "no, no" over the mower's handles and the weedwacker spun in front of him. I nodded. he backed away from the little chickweed patch, and we turned back to our objective of decimating the turf.

I'm sure many gardeners would be surprised to hear my tone of voice when I recently exclaimed, "Chickweed! We have chickweed!" I've been waiting for the plant to show up, and chickweed has now found a place in the garden - at the base of the gooseberry (Catskills provenance, I'll leave the dichotomous key to Jared for this tough to ID one) and one of the young hazelnuts.

***

Making friends with the lawn has worked well for me. I'm less worried about all of it.