I had the opportunity today to familiarize myself with a house in an outlying, affluent suburb. While it was not the most egregious example of conspicuous consumption, compared to the life I lead it was a revelation of sorts. It was the dream house of the previous owners, Mike Smith and Sara Anderson (not their real names, though equally innocuous), who had the house built on a filled-in wetland, in a cul-de-sac development. They fell out of love and into hatred. There was a pile of garbage out front, about two-thirds of which could easily sell at a thrift store. I pulled out several lawn chairs, a twenty dollar pair of swimming goggles, and some fun Halloween decorations that will work well in the store I'll be managing. One bag was filled with the trophies a young woman won playing basketball.
The house, and the neighborhood, is very much everything that is wrong with America, and why America is doomed. I sometimes think of my house as too big for me, though by current code I could not legally build a house this small; my house would fit in the great room in the basement of that house. Everywhere there, fine woodwork and fancy tile and counter tops, the kind of material we are plundering the world to attain, installed for people who do not know themselves. There was more money in window treatments than I have earned in any one year in this lifetime.
I drank beer while I wandered around, observing the landscaping equal to their names, critiquing the whole product, knowing the vast majority of people in this country - the very vast majority - would say, "What a beautiful house and yard!" The American Dream. I heard the new owners talking about blocking up the wood fireplace. I tried to talk them out of it, saying it might prove useful in a power outage. I didn't say they might some winter feed most of the house into it to stay alive. Perhaps such a big house will prove useful in that regard. Which is not the kind of talk I share with people who have not yet awakened to the impending reality of resource constraints.
I came home and took a nap to sober up. After, I picked wild strawberries on my boulevard, weeded one of the tomato beds and planted some heat loving flowers that were still in small pots. I wandered over to the community garden to check on the condition of the mulberry tree. On a long bike ride this morning I scouted several mulberry. The serviceberries are ripe as well. I scored two glass carboys for five dollars at a garage sale recently, and I'm hoping to make mulberry wine. I might even try that with serviceberries, though I might just dry them.
A neighbor walked by late in the evening, relating that he had called the mayor's office about the city workers who fixed my curb recently, where they had replaced the stop box last fall, which I am still paying $300 a month for on threat of condemnation (it is a hard monthly pill to swallow, as there was never any real evidence anything was wrong with the stop box). There were about two guys working, and about eleven others standing around watching them work, laughing and mocking each other. It looked like fun. I told my neighbor the stories of harassment I have received from the city. His response was, "If you took better care of your yard, perhaps that wouldn't happen to you," and then proceeded to tell me that I was dragging down property values. This particular neighbor has a habit of asking me for help, and then after I help him, he returns the favor by tearing me down. He claims to speak for a contingent of my neighbors, who evidently do not have the courage to confront me themselves. I don't think he has called the city to complain about me, but someone has. Or more than one person, likely.
Dragging down property values? I took this abuse, as I always do from him, because I am not interested in feuding with my neighbors. Yes, my yard is a little wild, but that is much the point. There is intention everywhere in this yard, and I am on much better terms with nearly every plant in it than I am with any but a small number of my neighbors. Dragging down property values? Who was handing out home loans like candy? Who securitized those loans? Who cut twenty million jobs, refuses to create any, even as they enrich themselves? So, I deserve to be a target of the city inspections department because I treat my yard more like an organic farm, than a sterile golf course? All I said was, "The yard is in process. I would appreciate it if you took notice."
My neighbor on the opposite corner has the sort of pristine landscape this other neighbor imagines to be good for property values. He is out there every few days with his bottle of poison. Poison, poison everywhere. My sister recently sent me a video about chem-trails, the notion that a cabal of elite are spraying aluminum-oxide in the contrails of jets, to reflect the sun, in an attempt to lessen the threat of climate change. The very next day I read in the work of Joel Salatin, Everything I Want to Do is Illegal, that he believes mad cow disease is not likely caused by the official story - feeding carrion to cows - but by heavy use of certain pesticides and high concentrations in some areas of heavy metals, especially aluminum. As to these chem trails, I take a dim view of conspiracy theories generally. But my experience of late with these city bureaucrats has led me to believe, there is no limit to what people will do if they believe they understand better than you do what is in your best interest.
I sometimes wonder if the only thing my culture will know what to do with me, because I partake of the Earth to heal myself and the Earth, is to put me in a cage. I am not a threat to anyone, except perhaps to another's sense of what is true. I keep hearing repeating in my head, 'Do Not Be Afraid. Do Not Be Afraid.' I can't prove that message is true, but I choose to believe it.