Dreaming of Possibilities


I just finished a book about Harlan and Anna Hubbard, a couple who chose to live a simple life on the banks of the Ohio River. Written by Harlan, Payne Hollow details how the Hubbards lived their day-to-day lives: building their home mainly from scraps offered by the river and the woods; foraging, gardening and raising goats for food; chopping wood; canning; doing laundry by hand.

Harlan has this to say about their choice:

"To buy bread and coffee, beans and bacon from the store and pay for such inferior provender...does not appeal to us at all. We catch fish for our own eating, get all our living by as direct means as possible, that we may be self-sufficient and avoid contributing to the ruthless mechanical system that is destroying the earth" (page 162).


* * *

As I pulled into a gas station the other day, my son asked why I was supporting this particular company. "They had a spill, Mom."

"True," I replied. "But every gas company is guilty of something. And every time we buy gas...every time we buy anything...we're guilty as well.

I am guilty:

This morning, I picked out my produce at the grocery store, sliding celery and broccoli and parsley into long plastic bags. I grabbed a package of noodles that I could easily make on my own. Olives and pretzels and salsa and cream...With each item that went into my cart, I felt myself more and more dependent upon those corporations I claim to despise.

For Christmas, we're getting our youngest a cell phone, allowing him a degree of independence, yet further enslaving ourselves to technology.

The long-term effects of cell phone use are still unknown.

* * *
I see that the fracking companies are petitioning to use the Ohio River to ship "wastewater" headed for disposal in injection sites. When there is a river accident, this water, laced with five hundred unknown chemicals, will be released into the river, jeopardizing plant and animal life and contaminating a supply that serves millions.

Advertisements on NPR encourage listeners to think about it in terms of natural gas production.

I've thought about it.

I'm not interested.

I'm not interested in giving in yet again to big businesses who always get what they want, without concern for long-term effects.

I'm not interested in permanently removing water from the hydrological cycle.

I'm not interested in more injection wells.

I'm not interested in seeing the Ohio River destroyed.

Again, Harlan: "With the removal of an old landmark, a tree, a building or a person, the character of the countryside deteriorates. No amount of improvement can make up for the loss; there is never a change for the better...This will be the landscape the rising generation will know, and they will not understand what has been lost" (page 160).

Harlan wrote this about a friend who'd recently died. He could easily have been writing about the Ohio River he loved.

* * *

I want to live the life of Harlan and Anna. But I'm not sure I have the courage. Can I turn away from Christmas presents and plastic bags? Natural gas and the internet? Can I give up a lifestyle of comfort and convenience and leisure--empty things upon which we place too much value?

I'd like to dream of possibilities.

I'd like to think about it.

I'd like to try.

Destroying the Ohio River will destroy the Hubbards' dream.

It will destroy my own as well.


This was written for this week's Yeah, Write Linkup.



Labels: ,

Writing in the Margins, Bursting at the Seams: Dreaming of Possibilities

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Dreaming of Possibilities


I just finished a book about Harlan and Anna Hubbard, a couple who chose to live a simple life on the banks of the Ohio River. Written by Harlan, Payne Hollow details how the Hubbards lived their day-to-day lives: building their home mainly from scraps offered by the river and the woods; foraging, gardening and raising goats for food; chopping wood; canning; doing laundry by hand.

Harlan has this to say about their choice:

"To buy bread and coffee, beans and bacon from the store and pay for such inferior provender...does not appeal to us at all. We catch fish for our own eating, get all our living by as direct means as possible, that we may be self-sufficient and avoid contributing to the ruthless mechanical system that is destroying the earth" (page 162).


* * *

As I pulled into a gas station the other day, my son asked why I was supporting this particular company. "They had a spill, Mom."

"True," I replied. "But every gas company is guilty of something. And every time we buy gas...every time we buy anything...we're guilty as well.

I am guilty:

This morning, I picked out my produce at the grocery store, sliding celery and broccoli and parsley into long plastic bags. I grabbed a package of noodles that I could easily make on my own. Olives and pretzels and salsa and cream...With each item that went into my cart, I felt myself more and more dependent upon those corporations I claim to despise.

For Christmas, we're getting our youngest a cell phone, allowing him a degree of independence, yet further enslaving ourselves to technology.

The long-term effects of cell phone use are still unknown.

* * *
I see that the fracking companies are petitioning to use the Ohio River to ship "wastewater" headed for disposal in injection sites. When there is a river accident, this water, laced with five hundred unknown chemicals, will be released into the river, jeopardizing plant and animal life and contaminating a supply that serves millions.

Advertisements on NPR encourage listeners to think about it in terms of natural gas production.

I've thought about it.

I'm not interested.

I'm not interested in giving in yet again to big businesses who always get what they want, without concern for long-term effects.

I'm not interested in permanently removing water from the hydrological cycle.

I'm not interested in more injection wells.

I'm not interested in seeing the Ohio River destroyed.

Again, Harlan: "With the removal of an old landmark, a tree, a building or a person, the character of the countryside deteriorates. No amount of improvement can make up for the loss; there is never a change for the better...This will be the landscape the rising generation will know, and they will not understand what has been lost" (page 160).

Harlan wrote this about a friend who'd recently died. He could easily have been writing about the Ohio River he loved.

* * *

I want to live the life of Harlan and Anna. But I'm not sure I have the courage. Can I turn away from Christmas presents and plastic bags? Natural gas and the internet? Can I give up a lifestyle of comfort and convenience and leisure--empty things upon which we place too much value?

I'd like to dream of possibilities.

I'd like to think about it.

I'd like to try.

Destroying the Ohio River will destroy the Hubbards' dream.

It will destroy my own as well.


This was written for this week's Yeah, Write Linkup.



Labels: ,

7 Comments:

At December 4, 2013 at 11:02 AM , Blogger Jen Brunett said...

Very thought proving!

 
At December 4, 2013 at 11:15 AM , Blogger Kristin said...

It's hard not to stress yourself to bits thinking about all of these things. Yet, I believe it is a good thing to do (the thinking part...I'm a coward, as you put it, too.)

 
At December 4, 2013 at 11:54 AM , Blogger Michelle Stanley said...

Interesting and a lot to think on. Going back to basics, living off the land is not an easy transition, and although I want to breath cleaner air and eat healthier foods, etc, I don't think I can manage that now. My respects to those who do.

 
At December 4, 2013 at 7:46 PM , Blogger TMW Hickman said...

I have no wish to go back to my farming roots, but a simpler life? I think I could throw out most of the stuff we have and never miss it. In fact, that's my plan over the Christmas break, if I'm not sidetracked. You've made some good points here!

 
At December 5, 2013 at 2:47 AM , Blogger Sandra Tyler said...

I have to admit; I'd survive better going backwards if I didn't like this, the now, and wasn't so used to it. I can do without the plastic bags and others, but well, yeah, I like the internet and meeting people like you I'd never know otherwise. xo

 
At December 5, 2013 at 4:33 AM , Blogger Kathy said...

It really makes a person think. Thought provoking and insightful.

 
At December 5, 2013 at 8:53 AM , Blogger Natalie DeYoung said...

I think about these things, too. There's not too much I can do, but I do what I can to support small business and stick it to the man.

 

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