I was out gleaning this morning – harvesting choke cherries (plus a couple of crab apples and one sweet apple) from neighbourhood trees – and made a bunch of jelly plus a small bottle of syrup out of my haul. 🙂
It seems appropriate that – as someone who harvests food from the wild and weedy places around my neighbourhood – I should talk about Environmentalism and its place in my Pagan practice. As such:
E is for Environmentalism
You’d think it would be a no-brainer. But everywhere I look, I actually see Pagans and Heathens bemoaning the way other Pagans and Heathens lack a connection to the Natural World. I see authors recognizing that most of us live in cities, don’t like bugs, and so on. I periodically come across bloggers going on about how they’re wild witches in the woods – unlike those wanna-be fluffy bunny types who barely go camping…
I think there’s a bit of a thing – a combination of the culture/nature dichotomy with-which a lot of us were raised and the guilt that comes from being part of a petroleum-dependent culture – wherein a lot of us think of “Nature” as being places that are less obviously touched by human activity.
And that’s an attitude that isn’t help us. It’s not helping “us”, people who are part of this culture that sees humans as separate from the rest of Life; It’s not helping “us” who are guilt-ridden about environmental degredation but can only envision a change as being either “useless” (switching lightbulbs, bringing cloth bags to the store, and other tiny things that – when held up against the Enbridge Pipeline – don’t seem to do much good) or too drastic to handle (living off the grid a million kilometers from the nearest grocery store and virtuously freezing/starving/suffering all through the winter while going slowly round the twist from the isolation). And it’s also not helping “us”, people who do earth-based religion/spirituality and are wondering how to Comune With Nature when they feel that “nature” is only available on the weekends or at Fest.
I think that a more wholistic (sorry – there are New Age Buzz Words that, while they make me cringe, are also occasionally very applicable) aproach is needed here.
If you stop thinking of pigeons as “vermin” and recognize that they’re part of an urban ecosystem – same as squirrels, raccoons, flies, starlings, crows, grackles, sparrows, cats, dogs, emerald ash borers (you don’t have to like them either – my mother-in-law sticks her knitting needles into the holes they drill in her Rowan tree, with no remorse what-so-ever), choke cherries, dandelions, crab grass, norwegian maple, juniper, carp… (you’re getting the idea) – you maybe lose the idea that humanity and The Natural World parted ways some time in the 1600s.
And when you do that – when you realize that “The Environment” isn’t some abstract idea, possibly connected with Brazil, but is, rather, what you are and where you live – then making those small changes doesn’t seem quite so futile (because you’re helping your own neighbours, right?) and the big changes (living in the middle of nowhere) don’t seem like the only “real” option.
My goal? A down-town bungalow, retrofitted with solar pannels and (hopefully) geothermal heating, that has a big garden and a couple of fruit trees.
That’s my goal. Not disappearing into the wilderness.
Fishing in the river down the street from where I live, not sitting Up North for three days, hoping a moose comes by at the right time (I can barter for that stuff). There is probably a CSA Share in my future, and a chest freezer. But there’s also a closeness to friends and phamily (and family), because that’s important, too.
And, for what it’s worth, that’s my post on Environment (The environment; My environment; you name it…)
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
I wonder if harvesting plants from urban locations is acceptably safe by now, because fewer cars burn diesel? I used to be sternly warned away from drying for spices any herbs harvested from within a mile of the highway.
It’s not the diesel. It’s the lead.
I’m careful how close to the freeway I harvest my greens, because the soil probably has lead contamination from back when cars used to run on leaded fuel. (That said I pick outside of a block from the highway… which may or may not be so wise…)