Saturday, July 18, 2009

Undomesticating Ourselves....

(Naked Ed has been living at Lily Springs in Northern Florida for 20 years...One of the least domesticated humans I have met.....)

Still in the Allegheny National Forest

What more could someone want?
It is a grey rainy day. Before the rain started, JC took the dogs on a little walk through the woods and came back with another armload of wild mushrooms. It is official: we have more mushrooms than we can possibly eat. What a great problem.
Garnet Yam Curry with wild mushrooms is simmering on the little stove, Bean is curled up in my sleeping bag on the bed (still smelling like fresh skunk spray).

JC has gone to the library in Warren to do some on line work. When we were both in the village of Warren, we got hungry and asked someone where to get a good vegetarian meal. I had already gone through the grocery and found no organic produce and only Silk sweetened soymilk. Slim pickins’ in Warren PA. The woman we asked about a vegetarian place got very excited to tell us all about the Greek restaurant a few blocks away. JC is more trusting than I am and was ready to get a table. I asked to see a menu before we sat down. Nothing vegetarian on the menu except an iceberg lettuce salad. Jc (wearing his Vegan tee shirt) asked the chef if there was anything vegan on the menu). The chef looked at him like he was not only wanting to eat Greek, but was speaking it, too. I explained that we were looking for vegetarian food that contained no dairy or eggs. The chef smiled….”I don’t think we have anything like that.” It was true. This guy obviously knows his stuff.
We thanked them and left, pulling the giant circus advertisement off the window on our way out the door.

Later I went to a little cyber cafe to do some work and the bought a cup of tea as my "rent" for taking up a seat. I asked if they had soy or rice milk and the person behind the counter looked a little puzzled while responding, "We have 1%."

I know that most people think we are crazy to not eat the carcasses of our extended family and not contributing to the violence of animal agriculture. So be it. More and more people are becoming our kind of crazy every day.

We humans are a funny lot. We argue that, like cave people, are meant to eat other species. But the same people will argue that we are not cave people and are too civilized to poo in the woods. We want to pick our form of domestication very carefully.
While at Summerfest, I was asked where we pee when we are living in our camper. (The camper has a toilet, but we don't use it.) So I tell them we just go out in the woods. The next logical question is where do we poo. Only one brave person started to ask us that and then said “nevermind…I don’t want to know where you do that.” We are pretty strange animals. We spend lots of money designing and purchasing systems so that we can excrete our waste into perfectly clean drinking water. Then we spend more money to design and build systems to remove the waste from our drinking water so it can get recirculated to be drinking water again. We have had the most natural things domesticated out of us. I personally have had to undomesticate myself. I was in my late teens when a wonderful group of outdoor women helped me learn to pee outside. I am not kidding. Before that, if I were outside, I would lean against a tree and close my eyes and pretend I was sitting on a toilet. Only then could I pee.
These women taught me a true squat. I remember all of us coming out of a log cabin and squatting in a circle chatting the whole time. As natural as….well as natural as peeing.
I was sledding with my niece and nephew when they were very young. They had to pee and asked if we could go home. I asked them if they were don’t sledding. “No Aunt Rae, but we have to pee.” I taught them both how to pee outdoors right then and there. Neither one had ever done it. I told them that they were peeing like the animals and that we people are actually animals, so it made sense to pee like animals.
They loved this.
When we got back to my parent’s tidy suburban home, my sister was there to pick them up.
We were all sitting around, when my sister noticed the kids were missing. She spotted them in the backyard…one little girl squatting and one little boy making pee designs in the snow. My sister opened the patio door and yelled to them “What the hell are you doing?” Their big smile reply was, “Mom, WE ARE PEEING LIKE THE ANIMALS! WE ARE ANIMALS!”. My sister shot me a look that said “What have you done to my kids?”
We humans really are strange animals.
Dump any of us in the woods and we could not survive. We would not know how to stay warm, get food, follow one direction out of there. Dump any other land species out there and they would have no problem surviving.
We know how to use computers and program a dvd player, but we don’t know how to grow a carrot.
A while back I was in my garden with a young woman I had met that day hiking. She came home to have dinner with us. She had grown up in a very wealthy family and would never have to work a day in her life. She grew up with maids and nannies in a mansion. I asked her to pull a few carrots for the salad. Her response, “Which ones are the carrots. I don’t see any carrots.” She was standing right next to the rows of carrots. I said, “Right there.” I pointed to them. She told me she didn’t see any carrots and looked completely baffled. When I came over and used the garden fork to loosen the earth at her feet and pulled out five beautiful Nantes carrots, she looked like she had seen a miracle. “I have never seen carrots growing before….that is amazing!” At 24 years old, she had seen a miracle….one of a kirgillion everyday miracles that we rarely notice.
Life has to slow down for us to catch them in our ears or our vision.
Even my life….a life that is fed by all sights and sounds not human made…..gets going too fast. I spend too many hours staring at a computer screen or listening to the cell phone stuck on my ear.
Now, here, in this magical quiet forest….life has slowed down and reminded me of all that feeds me. Birds as the loudest sound, wild greens for breakfast and wild mushrooms for dinner, time to watch the strange creatures in the pond as they surface for air, watching at night as the fireflies meet the stars at the horizon.. and, of course, peeing like the animals and remembering that my most centered and honest self is that undomesticated part of me.

1 comment:

  1. I love it, Rae! I remember when Julia Butterfly Hill was living in Luna, the majestic Redwood tree, to draw attention to clear-cutting of our old growth forests. All the radio shows that called her up were obsessed with knowing how she went "to the bathroom" with no bathroom. That was a source of a lot of frustration for her.

    Second, we went to the Rainbow Gathering when Justice was four, at a critical time post-potty training. After a few days of peeing and pooping out in nature, once we returned home, he would just say, "I need to go potty. Where's a tree?" It was very funny!

    I am looking forward to reading this blog!