Gardening and Deep Thoughts

9 Mar

Better Half and I worked in the yard all day today. Well, I guess not actually all day, but most of the day. It was awesome! We turned and mixed the compost (and added some more coffee grounds), and I am really pleased to see how well it’s doing. If I would just stop adding new kitchen scraps, we’d probably have a totally usable beautiful compost by now. The pile is finally big enough and I’ve finally gotten the right ratios that it’s actually heating up (I’m sure it helps that the weather has warmed up), so things should speed up. We also did a little pruning, planted some new trees and shrubs, picked up all the supplies for raised beds (to be built and set up next weekend), planted wildflower seeds in the front yard, and worked on our containers. The yard is really starting to come together, which is really satisfying. Plus, I can’t wait to get some edibles going! Tasty food from my own yard, what could be better?

And what could be more primal than doing sustained, low-impact physical activity outside with my beloved and my overly helpful dog? (Who got his entire head stuck inside a coffee grounds bag at one point. This is what we have done to wolves.)

I have some non-mainstream ideas about food and health, this blog is proof of that. I sincerely believe that eating minimally processed foods that conform roughly to our best guess of an ancestral hominid diet is the best choice for optimal health. That said, I also, in moments of deep honesty, believe that the real reason contemporary Americans are so unbelievably unhealthy has a lot less to do with the half a Snickers bar I ate earlier (it was awesome! worst paleo blogger ever, but whatever!) and a lot more to do with the fact that most of us really and truly just sit around all day. I feel like I’m fighting the good fight when I manage to find activities, like today’s yard work adventure, that are physical without being overwhelming, natural, intrinsically motivating, fun, productive, and don’t feel like I have to take away from my normal routine to “go out and exercise” (I also can’t wait to go running tomorrow, though, so obviously I like both approaches). This kind of exertion is the heart of wellness. I wish that everyone had the time to pursue something like this, and I get really sad when I think of how much privilege is inherent in my ability to putter around my yard for a day.

Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny. When I was young, I was an ape, living purely by instinct and emotion. Adolescence brought fierce tribalism and a rudimentary grasp of tool use. My earliest adulthood was spent wandering the wilds, learning every bird and bug and twig and leaf and bud. Now I find myself settling, taming. I’m no longer nomadic. Agriculture calls to me. I seek stability.

How will this trend continue as I age? Will I fall in love with automation in middle age, finally embracing the industrial revolution instead of metaphorically flinging my wooden shoes into looms? When I am an old woman, will I eat packaged processed food and believe it to be the best idea anyone’s ever had?

…Okay, that last one, probably not.

We’ll see.

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