Monday, August 19, 2019

On Blackberries

During my walk at The Ranch, I came across blackberry vines (numerous times):

I have an ambivalent relationship with blackberry vines.  On the one hand, I appreciate the fact that they produce blackberries.  As someone that occasionally walks his family's land, I deplore them for the fact that they seem to take over everything and make water access virtually impossible if left unchecked.  But it has been a very long time since I have been there when I was in season.

On a whim, I started picking them off and putting them into my hand to take back to the house.  The berries were literally right along the side of the road, tart and ready to be eaten.

Picking them, in the cool of the morning and the silence of nothing but birdsong, brought back a flood of memories.  We would pick blackberries when I was young, driving up to the family land where the old mining claim was from when my ancestors came out to the plot of land where the family house used to be before it burned.  My grandparents and my parents would pick the blackberries while my sister and I would pick for a little while, then get bored and follow the drainage ditch from the mine for a while or look for melted glass where the house had stood.  The blackberries, those that we did not eat, would come out over the year as blackberry jam.

We have not had blackberry jam in years (the store bought stuff, without seeds to crunch, is useless) and I have not been near a blackberry plant in fruit for at least 11 years.  It comforts me to know that such simple pleasures still exist and, when called upon, can still yield forth their store of stories.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

The Ranch, Summer 2019

As promised, pictures from the Ranch in Summer:

From the house:

The Lower Meadow:

Walking along the road to the main road:

Madrone tree:

The Lower Meadow.  Still a little water in the seasonal pond:

The cut line from last year.  You can already see the scrub brush popping back up.

My father planted a pear and apple tree.  Both have fruit this year!

Middle Meadow towards the Lower Meadow:

Upper Meadow:

Due to the tree felling for the power lines, there is a lot of wood:

Back towards the house:

I have never seen this flower before:

Thursday, August 15, 2019

The Collapse XXVIII: Silence And Darkness

30 August 20XX

My Dear Lucilius:

I am sorry I have not penned you a few notes in almost a week; a combination of both much to do and little to write about.

I believe (by my running count) it has now been 5 days consecutively that I have seen no traffic at all – none. Not a car, a truck, a motorcycle, even one of those four wheel contraptions (I can never remember what they are called) which passes for a safer version of a motorcycle.

The Valley has gone incredibly quiet.

Oh, one can still hear noises, of course: occasional gas or electric powered motors for mowers or weed-eaters (although those have diminished as well), dogs barking, once or twice a child’s laughter. But that has really become the exception. My days are now filled with a vast lack of noise, so quiet I can hear the cowbells a mile away or the crack of deer through the dry grass as they come up for the evening.

I have taken to sitting out in the evenings after dusk (mosquito spray – such a useful thing. How I am going to miss it). We still have power of course, so I can at least write these to you, so there is still the hodge podge of lights at night which form our little settlement, but somehow everything seems dimmer and less bright. Lights are going off earlier in the evening for sure, either from a fear the electric bill will eventually come due or a reality check that soon enough, light will be much more limited.

It is odd, Lucilius, that we have come to believe that light represents civilization. In some ways, I suppose that is true: outside of accidental fires, only man makes fire and the output of fire, light. So many of our activities – most of them in fact – rely in some fashion on light. Without manufactured light (like electricity) or stored light (like candles and fire) our range of motion in the larger world truly becomes limited to daylight hours, and even the best of those being daylight hours with sun ( a challenge someplace like here, where at best we get eight solid hours of daylight in Winter and much of that overcast.) To me, at least, light – more than any other aspect – is a sign of civilization.

And so I sit here in my chair at night, with most of the lights going out far earlier, leaving only the moon and the stars to shine as brightly as they ever did before we started lighting up the sky to the point that we could not really see them.

It is not that the dark depresses me, Lucilius. It is the fact that I can feel a larger darkness settling over everything like a thick blanket.

Your Obedient Servant, Seneca

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Not Of This Age?

I sometimes feel lost in time.

I enjoy the benefits of the modern age.  I like air conditioning in summer.  I like hot water on command.  I enjoy regular showers, clean clothes, and overall good physical health with minimal or no major diseases.

And yet, I often find myself ill at ease in the modern age.

Everything moves so incredibly fast.  I am constant caught up in a turbulent cycle of news and action.  Things always demand my attention.  Technology seems just on the precipice of overwhelming me.  And too often I am either thrust into a mass of people whom I bump up against like marbles in a bag or utterly abandoned.

And, of course, the knowledge I care for - history, literature, language, philosophy, theology, even agriculture- is largely relegated to the fringes of society as so much of it is seen as not as useful as technical skills.

I keep feeling like - at least mentally and emotionally - I belong in another age.

That does not really help anything of course, as I am sort of stuck in the age I am in.  It is not like I have a time machine or something (and even then, I cannot really see that going well for me).  

The next question became "Could I live as if I did live in another age?"

Apparently this may or may not be a thing - whether it be Viking re-enactors (see the videos if you can - some amazing craftsmanship and battles!) or something called "Retroculture" of which I am not sure how much of a thing it is or not - the premise being you choose a period and live in it as much as possible.

I do not know quite what to do with this concept.  In theory I like it - but how does it work out practically?  It is not as if I can abandon my computer at work or (realistically) dump my cell phone.  But there are things I can do - attitude, manners, language, even dress - to maybe move myself a bit down that path.

No big commitments or changes yet - but something I am definitely pondering.  After all, what do I have to lose?