Thursday, March 16, 2023

The Collapse LXXXXV: Moon, Grass, Water

04 May 20XX+1

My Dear Lucilius:

It is not my habit to write back to back (I say write; it has been months since I have actually heard from you and so the phrase, while strictly true, seems an amusing relic of a different age) but I have just come in from one of those moments which it strikes one as needing to be written about.

It was evening and the sun had sunk into the West, illuminating the trailing clouds in reds and golds and pinks as it has as long as I have been here and undoubtedly far, far longer – only then to fade away as the stars started to wink in.

But the stars themselves were overpowered by the moon – not quite full yet, but almost – that sat high in the sky, lighting the world with the soft sort of light that one can accomplish many things by at night – or, as I was, just be taken in by the sight.

I have written before of the silence and darkness that are now regular occurrences, the sorts of things that once upon a time we took for granted as a novelty or an inconvenience. Admittedly the darkness is much more a time of sleep now, as light is a commodity to be hoarded for the times it will be really needed, not just as a convenient excuse to cover a task which could have been accomplished during regular daylight hours. And yet, it is equally as foolish to squander the wonder of the moments that in an odd way, the world as it is has now gifted us.

Off behind The Cabin to my right as I face West, I can hear the gentle shifting of grasses as something moved through the pasture – likely deer gorging themselves on the native grasses. The field behind me has gone unoccupied without livestock for some years even prior to any of this and remains an outpost of wild land on the outskirts of a town once dying and now strangely brought back to life. I have no idea who owns the plot; I idly wonder if I should speak to Xerxes about seeing if someone is interested in putting some livestock there – it is easy enough for me to monitor and might result in a trade for something.

To my left, the stream continues to gurgle and rush as it always has, unseen whirlpools swirling into non-existence and rivulets of flow visible for second before they disappear into the greater whole. The trout have stopped jumping for the night, as their prey has disappeared until the morning’s light raises them into the competition for food and mates once again.

As I sat there, Lucilius, I was struck by the unseemly beauty of it all.

I live today in a world of collapse, in a system that overextended itself to the point that it could no longer continue. Survival for many is a real struggle; even for myself, I find myself in increasingly concerning circumstances – not immediately of course, but looking out into the future the risk heightens if I am not able to adapt to the world as it is, not the world as I wish it to be.

And yet in all of this, I find myself gifted with the moments of grace and hanging loveliness – Yeats’ phrase “peace comes dropping slow” comes to mind. The brightness of the moon, the slightly shifting light of the stars, the rustling of the grass on one side as the creek bubbles on the other – these are gifts Lucilius, gifts I had not expected nor would have noticed save the fact that they are now made extraordinary by the circumstances of the time.

The ordinary becoming extraordinary, noticed only because I have pushed out of my comfortable world so I can behold them.

Even now, Lucilius, the world remains full of miracles.

Your Obedient Servant, Seneca


  1. Anonymous5:02 AM

    I've noticed when a person has time to stop thinking and just look around with an open mind, a lot of beautiful sights are out there. A starlit sky with little cloud cover and no light pollution to spoil it - fantastic.

    1. Sometimes it takes be forced out of our ordinary and comfortable lives to see such things. I have had the privilege of enjoying such things when hiking - but only when I was (effectively) cut off from civilization.

  2. Nylon126:38 AM

    No aircraft in the sky, no background traffic noise, no street lights at night.........

    1. Nylon12, I remember the skies right after 9/11. They were completely free of any aircraft. Add to that the lack of noise during any power outage, and then layering on the realization that this may be an endless scenario.

      We taken modern noises and light pollution for granted. It is more than possible in Seneca's story, there will be a generation that never knows it.

    2. We lived 30 miles east of San Diego (El Cajon), There was usually air traffic (small local air port), Private and sheriff helicopters, small private planes, air liners approaching San Diego, lots of air traffic. Then it stopped, it was Erie. It was a surreal reality for awhile.

    3. TM - We lived near a small local airport as well and in the flight path of our large regional airport. To your point, seeing nothing in the sky except the occasional military flight was very surreal. In the current age of planes everywhere, it is hard to explain to people - yet we are barely 120 years into the aircraft age. Funny how things suddenly become mundane in such a short period of time.

  3. Anonymous7:34 AM

    I have caught myself up with all of Seneca‘s letters, thanks to your side link. I’m always happy to read his latest news. Thanks for sharing this creation.


    1. Thanks FnB! If I had a Martian No-Prize to give, it would be yours!

  4. Chuckling, I grok that No-Prize.

    I'm a crass gardener compared to Seneca. He sees beauty in everything. I'm looking for how the voles got into my garden again.

    1. Michael - The editor's sections in the old John Carter Marvel comics were great. I had to sell my collection some years ago but miss enough that I have thought about getting the band back together. For a series that was loosely based on Edgar Rice Burrough's character, it was really not a bad adaption (and so superior in so many ways to what Disney ended up putting out).

      Seneca seems to be a fellow that consciously seeks out the beauty in any situation. I suspect it is because he had such a rough go for some years that he simply decided that was his path forward.

    2. ...Only voles??? I've got gophers, rabbits, and ground squirrels!!!! My traps and pellet gun are very busy this year!

    3. Pete my friend, you've never witnessed the almost Bugs Bunny effect of a vole working its way just slightly underground in your young bean patch.

      Day One a couple in that row look droopy, you check them NO ROOTS. Day TWO looks like the Zombie Apocalypse.

      Your pests are deterred in my area with marigolds and garlic interplanted in the garden. Potatoes and garlic are wonderful together as they greatly reduce the disease and potato bug issues.

      Garlic has SOME anti-vole effect, but a lot of plants don't play well with garlic.

      My beloved Beans are one of them, Girrrrrrr...

      I'm currently seeking a rat terrier to be my new garden guard dog. Cats kill a few, ratters DIG UP the whole rodent nest.

      But then I need to protect my rat terrier from the coyotes and owls.

      No wonder commercial farmers use so much toxic stuff to keep critters and bugs under control.

      Or we could do as the Cherokee Indians did, post night guards of children to keep rodents, rabbit and deer away and give them special praise if they happen to kill some extra protein that way. Rabbit stick anybody?

    4. Here in New Home we have the potential of rabbits, but Poppy The Brave and a reasonable good backyard fence keeps them away. The greatest struggle is with snails and slugs.

      That said, at The Ranch voles, moles, jack rabbits, and deer abound. We have a high fence for the deer; the moles are a continual battle that The Cowboy fights.

    5. Snails and slugs have an amusing and easy cure. Runner Ducks. If you think Chicken TV is funny watch runner ducks.

      The joke is God made them from Chickens with waterproofing and added a Kazoo :-)

      Don't use the heavy meat ducks, their heavy feet crush plants while they are weeding the small weeds and scarfing slugs.

      Just keep them away from seedlings and berries. A light chicken wire and PVC hoop house can protect them from runner ducks when they are on patrol.

      YES, Ducks make mucky water. REJOICE, that's a fine side dressing for your plants very high in Nitrogen.

      Ducks need support from broody hens I notice, amusing when the mamma Hen sees her "Chicks" jumping into the water.

    6. Runner ducks are very interesting (and amusing) to me; unfortunately it is one of those things that will have to wait until a move happens. For now, it is beer in the top of my ollahs to drown them.

    7. Ah you use Ollahs? I'd love some of your thoughts about them and their usefulness.

      I've done poor mans version of olla using a 5 gallon bucket and a drilled 3/8 inch hole to ensure the water to the apple tree guild actually soaks in as opposed to flowing downhill.

      Using a hand held hose, its way too easy to overestimate how much water you gave them. With the 5 gallon bucket (and probabaly due to leakage 5.1 or so goes in before its filled you really give your plants a measured dose.

    8. Michael, I use a much smaller based system. It is based on Leigh's helpful suggestions as well as the book Gardening with Less Water by David A. Bainbridge (Highly recommended). I had a series of posts on the practice last year:

    9. Thank you, I'll be reading those later this week.

      I tried clay pot style but between my hard water clogging the clay pores and handling damage I found 1 gallon vinegar jugs very durable if you store them away for the winter. I have a few that must be 7 years old right now.

      Slow watering has greatly reduced my water use and increased the yields of my berries. Too much using overhead sprinkling simply flows down the hill or evaporates.

      I keep in my gardening apron pocket an old style wire clothes hanger doohickey I made to clear the green Alge when needed.

      Gardening aprons are so useful and protective as many a pruning knife scar on mine.

      Also keeps my predator disposal system handy. Did you know chickens love to eat a predator as long as you open the hide for them.

    10. We are fortunate that the water here is sufficient to work with clay pots. I will say that it did work, although I did not perhaps use the system as efficiently as I might of. This year will likely use a combination of the pots and drip system.

      We had quail for two years, but had to keep them in the garage, both for noise and the fact that at one point a possum or raccoon likely got in and killed some.


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