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It´s simple. I spent two days struggling with my manuscript, watching series on Netflix (the americans, I like it a lot plus the returned), I spent two days reading online newspapers, I spent two days eating candy. Which is not to excuse myself but to point towards a correlation between universal black hole depression and not doing “what you are supposed to do” (I feel like I am supposed eat healthy, wear orthopedic shoes, be kind to animals)
Doing what we are supposed to do – might be important for personal health.

….I´m just supposed to be following popular culture too. Even though I live in the wild, my life is a life of extremities, I´ve accepted that now and this is why:

I have always had a problem with the “turn your back to the world and be happy” solution. I have always had a problem with the inherent egoism in prepper/perma culture: we can´t deal with the world, we downsize and downscale and refuse to take part in the monoculture  (but the suppression continues) and I somehow feel that none of us can be free before all of us are free.

ON THE OTHER HAND I can´t live in the culture. It makes me sick to the bone, ethically, psychically.
(if you need your faith in human kind restored though – read the comments on my post from yesterday. We can fight this sickness. Together)

Once a lady came to our doorsteps. She´d been broken down by the system and was all shaking and disturbed, neurotic, on edge, it wasn´t comfortable to hang out with her but we did it anyways, out of pity I suppose. She was so clinically stressed that she couldn´t breathe. Sometimes she would grasp for air, sometimes she would go lay down because of headaches and pains.
She said it was the system. She knew it was the system. “This whole system is a lie” she said, her voice was shaking, “everyone I know is so far out, clinging to the edge with their fingertips”
She couldn´t read newspapers. We couldn´t talk about politics around her. She couldn´t be on facebook, read blogs nor even think about the slaves who are producing our “luxury goods”. She shoke her head and became kind of aggressive every time we spoke of anything other than the absolute now. She just couldn´t deal so she closed her eyes and pretended that it wasn´t there. Like a hedgehog in the front lights of a car. Freeze!

I don´t think that is a solution… because she KNOWS. I know. We know.
You can´t unknow just because you want to, just because it would be more comfortable, just because you can´t deal or it makes you depressed.
Maybe we´re supposed to be depressed once in a while?
Maybe we haft to bear witness?
I know this might sound like some kind of selfhurt and it´s not because I think life per se should suck or that we are essentially sinners- it´s just that I estimate the danger to be very REAL.

We HAFT to acknowledge. We HAFT to see. It´s NOT in our heads (only). You can´t choose that it dosn´t exist. It does. It´s real.

Anyways, I told you; the rain is good for the plants.
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I´d like to show you what I did yesterday, after the depression.
I´d like to show you because sometimes this world, the forest world, holds an amazing power of me. Grounding. All of the time.
Grounding.
I´d go insane if I didn´t have that.
It makes me happy. So happiness… is being able to ground… maybe?

*

Waiting for the rain to pass. It´s not like we´re busy, we never really busy, we own our own time.

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Every second sunday the people of the forest meet, to hang out, drink coffee, eat cake, talk about the weather, share experiences, problemsolving, learning from eachother. We take turns at hosting, yesterday it was up at Thines place.
It´s funny, isn´t it?
Maybe it´s a very telling fact about humans?
We live in the vastness of endless forest, giant, eternal wild. But we parallel park. We always parallel park.

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See those two small mountains?
When we first came to the forest that´s where we settled, close to those two mountains. Wolves live up there.
We used to hear them howl all of the time.

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Back home we sit down by out by the campfire. It´s been raining hard but the low pressure is loosening.

We watch the world breathe. It really does breathe.  Vapor. A warm body rising, sinking, rising.
“Why were you in such a bad mood?” he asks. I shrug. Silence. Kid picking small flowers.
“Why have humans always had slaves?”
“I don´t think we have”
“Even the vikings had slaves” My eyes wander, my fingers walk, up and down my leg, I´m bored, maybe. I continue “I think it came with agriculture”.
“So you´re in a bad mood because of slaves?”
“Yeah. I mean… why didn´t they run? And why does the homeless people in the city not run. The weak and the poor, they´re being preyed upon, trampled down, spit upon… I don´t understand that total lack of hope, I don´t understand… surrender”
“Well don´t get too cocky, it could be us you know”
“No no, yeah yeah… but why do people give up, why live if you have given up?”

It´s the election and the lynch mobbing of the foreigners and the poor, it´s climate change and corruption, evil empire. Sometimes I think the artists are merely gladiators. We´ve just been fighting over the “spoiled young girls” of contemporary Danish literature (it´s always the girls and the women, you know that by now)
“It´s funny with you. You hardly speak for a whole day and then the first thing you utter is something about slaves….”
“Yeah, I´m sorry”
I continue “It’s not like I think the slaves are to be blamed though, it´s this whole class system and exploitation…. you know?”
” I know” (that´s why I love him. That- and his fish tank eyes, his muscles and the way he makes me laugh)
Then we follow the clouds movements on the sky.
“Maybe you should go for a walk” he says.
“Yeah” I say.

I sit with the camera for a while. I find an exiting new button.

 

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“I´ll go pick some pine sprouts”

I pick some almost every day.
I store them in oil and use them in salads and stews through winter, they´re really good, kind of pepper-y and pineaple- y and a bit of asparagus -y.

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We cross the creek and find amazing things, like…. small trees in the moss, mirroring the larger world.

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The leftovers from a squirrel party

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And then we go home.
I handle the pine sprouts (you have to scrape this brown stuff, just a little bit, it tastes like resin)

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I use flax-seed oil (and dream about being able to produce it myself)

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Simplicity.
Delicious.
Extremely healthy. Like squirrels. Like storing small pine trees in the spring.

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It would be nice if I could finish this post real elegant but I don´t think I can. But hey, wait, I´m reading this book Poul La Cour (“fragments of a diary”) I love that book, overflowing with beautiful quotes:

“Any life explanation that is not dialectical hides for me a great deception. It is constituted in such a way that it cannot contain truth. Have you not the courage of the paradoxical and the self contradictory then I cannot trust you”

25 comments on “Slaves and pine sprouts

  1. BeeHappee says:

    Candy and exciting new button on the camera help. 🙂
    My kids just asked yesterday if they can eat pine sprouts, I said I don’t know. Well, now, thanks to you, I know. 🙂
    Some slaves ran. Some homeless ran. But I always watch this crowd of about 10 homeless or semi-homeless hanging out in our town, and wonder why they insist sitting there among cigarette buds and not go into the woods. But I think they enjoy each others company more than woods. What is “giving up” ?
    Nice post and love the pictures.

    Like

    1. smcasson says:

      I used to work in horticulture, a landscape nursery. We called those sprouts “candles”. Man, on the white pines around here they can be 6 inches long.
      Never had a thought to eat them. Interesting. But a few trees in the field out back have juniper berries all over, ripe and ready for picking. Thinking of cooking up some venison up in ’em. What else can you do with those, Andrea?

      Like

      1. smcasson says:

        Oh, and love the Volvos! I drive an 850, red, just like the one on the right. 240,000 miles – yeah!
        Is it telling that when rural Americans get together, they park all haphazard, in no order… always rushing around trying to find drivers, throwing keys across the room to move cars and let people out…

        Liked by 1 person

        1. BeeHappee says:

          he he, that’s the main fun of it, can’t leave the party till its over. Those Volvo people can get a bit obsessed about their cars. When I came here, my host family gave me an old stick shift Volvo, passenger door would not close right and sometimes would swing open in intersections. 🙂 But boy, the host mom was very concerned that I will mess up her car (ok, maybe I did take those turns a bit too fast). 🙂

          Like

        2. Rural Americans have more space. And we’re rugged individualists sometimes to the point of absurdity.

          I loved my old Volvo. It has 330,000 miles on it when I sent it to the crusher. If CA didn’t have such stringent smog requirements (for good reason; I’m not against it) – and I wasn’t so poor – and CA didn’t have such a great gross polluter buy back program – I might have driven it 100,000 miles more. Now I have a Honda CRV with 253,000 miles on it.

          Andrea, you make me wonder what wild foods we have around here that are edible. Star thistle? I wish they would let us glean. At harvest there are so many leftover foods out in the fields.

          Like

      2. BeeHappee says:

        🙂 Yipee, I found an organization that holds foraging potluck parties and walks in the woods for wild plants, classes right here in our suburbs and we will be going soon. 🙂
        Yesterday we ate a ton of Rabbit’s Cabbage (that is what we call it in Lithuania), I suppose it is Oxalis – Wood Sorrel in English. We used to much on it as kids. Morton Arboretum here is awesome for kids, because in childrens gardens they plant mostly edible stuff, so they have gardens full of raspberries, yesterday kids were picking and eating tons of dill, and then there is sweet leaf. And of course, first lemon balm tea this year… Our garden is nothing but weeds and still raining…
        But eating all the pine things like Andrea does is all new to me.

        Like

        1. Tricia says:

          I like the name Rabbit’s Cabbage so much better than wood sorrel. I have it growing all through my garden here in the US and I leave it so I can munch on it whenever I want.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Andy Jukes says:

    Beautiful! There’s so much of worth in this post. Your son sounds wonderful. The clarity of youth is often useful to hear. It’s easy to get caught up in compromise and doubt and call it wisdom. When really it is fear. But sometimes fear is useful too! It’s not easy is it? I love the end quotation. It says it all.

    Like

  3. Lin Johansson says:

    Andrea-
    It’s too interesting to ignore, so I’m posting to tell you. I, too, live in this part of Sweden, though to the south of you, and in the forest, though on an old farm, and I’ve been feeling very similar to you about, well, everything you’ve recently posted. I’m a historian, but I’ve been home for a week with back problems (major surgery last year, pain remains) and I’ve been hit head on with a feeling of depression and weakness and like I’m falling apart. Yesterday I finally made it out into the forest, and collected things and saw things and came back feeling better. But, again, I awoke today knowing I’m not okay and my body is waging a war against something. Me or my lifestyle or nature or maybe I just need a damn break to breathe and let my muscles unwind and allow myself to hear my own thoughts again. Or maybe it’s just that Mercury is in retrograde and I’m a Pisces and I feel all the feelings. Let’s hope this period passes for us both. Thanks for posting.
    Lin

    Like

    1. It´s good you raise your voice, Lin. Thank you!

      Like

  4. BeeHappee says:

    Andrea, and on slaves escape, we were just last week visiting Sheldon Peck homestead here in Lombard IL and it is one of many stops of Underground Railroad here in Illinois that I had seen: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Underground_Railroad
    I know you meant it as a general concept of people putting up with existing condition, but no slavery lasts forever.

    Like

  5. Olive says:

    When I attended the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Barbados, they told us the caves on the sea were used by runaway Africans who had survived the middle passage. They would hide deep inside with the snakes and bats, eventually building rafts to sail farther up the caribbean or the mainland. The ones who were caught were publicly tortured to death to make an example for the others. Barbados was the first stop for breaking the captives in…by the time they made it (island by island) north, the only survivors were the “docile” ones. They also had an incredile museum to slavery…
    Andrea, I was not saying to run away and pretend, but gently humbly offering that the weight of these issues cannot be carried alone, all the time. Moments of beauty, love, perfection from the universe are there to recharge and help you remain strong and focused. I fight depression and I cannot afford to let it get to me, on a deep level, or I will be paralyzed and useless…but I do stay in the real world. I also know when I need a forest break 🙂 I am so happy to see that you got out and I will look forward to trying the pine sprouts next spring (too late here, but we get to look forward to pine nuts so its ok!)

    Like

  6. Jakob F. says:

    If the lady on your doorstep is who I think she is, she got better. Partly by her stay in the forest. I know it must have been a mouthful, but I’m glad she could be there -though it makes me sad, that it was necessary!
    She’s still not back to normal -whatever that is- but she’s getting there, slowly.
    And I think shutting down FB and the various news feeds is fair enough, when your entire world collapses, and your own breath takes tremendous effort to draw. You can always open that gate again, when the anxiety attacks have died out.
    Do what you can with what you’ve got -that’s got to be valid in the forest as well?

    Like

    1. It wasn´t her, Jakob. There´s just a lot of women it seems suffer from many of the same symptoms 🙂

      Like

      1. Mary says:

        would love to hear what you think about/how you interpret the movie Homesman on Netflix!!

        Like

  7. Abigail Higgins says:

    dear andrea
    i loved john lennon and i loved his take on forms of slavery. in “god” he mentions a few.
    if we aren’t EN-slaved, well, then– sometimes we just mentally make slaves of ourselves, of our own free will!

    (no disrespect intended, but eat a gob of butter the next time the blue meanies try to make you eat candy. that sugar/alcohol thing sure is a form of slavery. those manufacturers know how to mess with everyone’s desires and chemistry.)

    to the point where we are all slaves to the metaphorical Sugar Hit–fill in the blanks for your own personal ones. hypoglycemic, over-weight, pre-diabetic, and with rotten teeth!
    and this can be extrapolated to just about everything that the society and economy of first world businesses want us to do, until we get practiced at detachment.

    sounds grim, but i still send all best wishes,
    ~ abigail

    Like

    1. Yes. This was exactly my point. I was wondering if recognizing your own slavery is not the first step before any eventual emancipation (it´s true: sugar/alcohol/netflix/stimulanses/escape… its problematic. On the other hand… I´m not totally certain of my stance here so I´ll shut up)

      – and I was sharing my own oblivion because this is what I do in this space. I´m not here to present problems that needs to be fixed. I´m just here to share the daily experience 🙂
      As always: thanks for your all of your comments, sweet people, I´m loving the comment section more and more (I used to have comments turned off for a long while) Peace!

      Like

      1. Abigail Higgins says:

        and what you share is, believe me please, essential and valuable.
        ~ a

        Like

  8. Mary says:

    Re: “why didn´t they run? And why does the homeless people in the city not run. The weak and the poor, they´re being preyed upon, trampled down, spit upon… I don´t understand that total lack of hope, I don´t understand… surrender”

    I’ve been super curious to understand this too. Found a very interesting podcast @ http://www.cbc.ca/radio/ideas/pastepisodes…that explores how, collectively, “we” are trained overtime, by the institutions that socialise “us” with norms and behaviours, to obey. some of us struggle with that, some of us resist it successfully. but so many are trained to be unnaturally compliant, in lots and lots of quiet ways they never notice.

    Like

    1. BeeHappee says:

      These look interesting. Which episode is it that you are talking about?

      I am reading about freedom these last couple days.
      “Is it freedom when you are free from something – free from pain, free from some kind of anxiety? Or is freedom itself something entirely different? You can be free from jealousy, say, but isn’t that freedom a reaction and therefore not freedom at all? You can be free from dogma very easily, by analysing it, by kicking it out, but the motive for that freedom from dogma has its own reaction because the desire to be free from a dogma may be that it is no longer fashionable or convenient. Or you can be free from nationalism because you believe in internationalism or because you feel it is no longer economically necessary to cling to this silly nationalistic dogma with its flag and all that rubbish. You can easily put that away. Or you may react against some spiritual or political leader who has promised you freedom as a result of discipline or revolt. But has such rationalism, such logical conclusion, anything to do with freedom?

      If you say you are free from something, it is a reaction which will then become another reaction which will bring about another conformity, another form of domination. In this way you can have a chain of reactions and accept each reaction as freedom. But it is not freedom; it is merely a continuity of a modified past which the mind clings to.

      The youth of today, like all youth, are in revolt against society, and that is a good thing in itself, but revolt is not freedom because when you revolt it is a reaction and that reaction sets up its own pattern and you get caught in that pattern. You think it is something new. it is not; it is the old in a different mould. Any social or political revolt will inevitably revert to the good old bourgeois mentality.

      Freedom comes only when you see and act, never through revolt. The seeing is the acting and such action is as instantaneous as when you see danger. Then there is no cerebration, no discussion or hesitation; the danger itself compels the act, and therefore to see is to act and to be free.

      Freedom is a state of mind – not freedom from something but a sense of freedom, a freedom to doubt and question everything and therefore so intense, active and vigorous that it throws away every form of dependence, slavery, conformity and acceptance. Such freedom implies being completely alone. But can the mind brought up in a culture so dependent on environment and its own tendencies ever find that freedom which is complete solitude and in which there is no leadership, no tradition and no authority?”
      Krishanmurti
      http://www.jkrishnamurti.org/krishnamurti-teachings/view-text.php?tid=48&chid=56791

      Like

      1. Great quote Bee and if Krishnamurti were here I would say “Good question Mr Krishnamurti!” I bet he has an answer of some kind but it may not be the answer we’d all expect. Or it might be.

        I am a slave right now. I’m not sure what I am a slave to. I have some ideas but I might not be on the right track. Am I free, as Krishnamurti says, if I see that I am a slave? Or have I misinterpreted? Can a person’s body be in bondage and their mind free?

        Like

      2. Mary says:

        BeeHappee: Why We Obey @ http://www.cbc.ca/radio/ideas/ideas-from-the-trenches-why-we-obey-1.3031077.
        hope that link works.

        LOVE the thoughts around freedom. i have gotten stuck on the concept of freedom myself many times over my years. did my undergrad in political science and history, and my post grad in cooperative economics, and, while freedom played big in the languaging of those fields, I didn’t see it really playing out in the ways that it had been billed to. and i am concluding now that the concept of freedom is but a human construct, an arrogant thought in the mind of he who sits at the top of the foodchain really, and as such, a destructive distractor. so i think about how i am not free from the laws of gravity, or of speed or of light, and that i am definitely bounded by the physical limitations of this human body, etc. All of which leads me to seek direction from the natural world in which I live, the world of tangled web, the field of ecology…where none of the participants of an ecosystem are “free” to do what they want when they want how they want, but rather are dependent upon each other for food shelter etc. to survive. so rather than “free,” I consider myself driven to participate fully, and as such, essential to the whole, by that full participation, for the successful operation of that system upon which I depend. there is an element of self interest, but also of mutual aid. i find this interconnectedness, interdependency, collaborative mutual aid way of thinking counterintuitively contrary to the concept of individual distinction and freedom. having said that, at any given time, a predator higher up the foodchain, could eat me. necessary for the health and wellbeing and balance of the ecosystem community, in which i would then be transformed and repurposed once i was through the digestive tract of that predator and out the other end, to participate once again. and that would be that would be that.

        maybe.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. BeeHappee says:

          Thank you very much, looking forward to listening, and also thanks for the Homesman recommend, very interested to watch it too.

          Like

  9. Bill says:

    “And then we go home.” That’s the best part.

    Beautifully written, as always.

    Like

  10. ncfarmchick says:

    “None of us are free until all of us are free.” “Why don’t you go for a walk?” Maybe, sometimes, the freedom to go for a walk is enough, at least for a little while.
    I feel like fleeing to the woods was, for us, not so much a turning our backs on the world (though I’m sure it seemed that way to some) but a process of distilling what really mattered to us. And, removing ourselves from the noise was a requirement to hear what those things were. It allowed a peeling away of the layers, so to speak. Maybe you can run to something without running away? I don’t know. But, I do know I am consistently moved by your words and ever grateful. Thank you!

    Like

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