Green Wizardries: Going Around in Circles


Green Wizardries, Going Around in Circles, by Maxine Rogers

Our culture is an odd one that imagines going in straight lines from the past to the future or from a primitive state to constant progress.  In nature and history, if you bother to look, you will see far more  going in circles than straight lines.  

In nature, a tree seed sprouts and thrusts up a tiny shoot.  With good luck, good rain and not too many browsings by herbivores, the sprout will become a sapling and then a young tree, an old tree and then a dead tree.  To accomplish all this, the tree takes in atmospheric carbon and by the miracle of photosynthesis turns the carbon with water and some trace nutrients into wood, bark, buds and leaves.  

Once the tree dies, the material of the tree either burns or decomposes, releasing the stored carbon back into the atmosphere where other plants can ingest it and put it back to work growing plants.  I keep reading fallacious statements that people are paying to have trees planted to store carbon in the trees. People seem unable to see that trees are not a store of carbon for very long.  

In nature, carbon does not need to be stored.  Carbon needs to go in circles.  I admit that burning all these fossil fuels and polluting the Living Earth is far from a good idea and think it a fine thing to plant trees but the trees will not store the fossil fuel-carbon we so thoughtlessly burn.  

There is even a remarkable, unintentionally funny, article going about saying that backyard gardens produce food with five times the carbon footprint of industrially-produced food.  The article describes making compost as a process that releases carbon into the atmosphere.  Well, if you do not compost garden waste, grass clippings, spoiled hay and animal wastes to make an excellent soil amendment, they will decompose over time in any case and release their carbon back into the atmosphere.  Compost is carbon neutral.  

Conventional food, produced by one of the stupidest forms of agriculture ever to be seen on this, once glorious, planet is fed with synthetic fertilizers made from petrochemicals such as natural gas.  This fertilizer burns up and releases soil carbon into the atmosphere while making the soil more acidic and less hospitable to plants.  You need to use more fertilizer every year just to get the same amount of production.  The food so produced also has to be shipped, and sometimes refrigerated, long distances by burning fossil fuels.

We are also running short of cheap hydrocarbons to make fertilizers with.  This is straight-line agriculture with dead soil, ruined waterways, extirpated wild animals and plants and soil erosion as a result.  This is progress!  Progress only means carrying on in one direction.  

Civilizations also have cycles, they start out as small sprouts, with some luck, they grow into vigorous young civilizations, grow older and more flabby and finally die.  Once a large old civilization is dead, it allows new seedling civilizations to spring up and try new ideas and forms of living.  Of course, when a civilization becomes very old and doddery, that civilization begins to show signs of senility.  I certainly see that in the collective known as the West. 

What can a person trapped in a senile civilization do to protect themselves and to make their life more beautiful?  I would say, learn from nature that a declining civilization is not a problem that can be solved.  It is simply a stage in the life of the civilization.  I would also give up taking any statements of the senile elites very seriously.  In fact, I would say, pay them no attention at all and start building a bridge to the next seedling civilization that may take root here.  

Start looking for the circles.  When we get eggs from our hens, we burn the shells in the fireplace.  We also burn bones from the meat we eat.  This calcium-rich ash is put back on the pasture and on garden beds to give leafy greens a meal of calcium that they so love which we then eat and feed to the hens in a virtuous cycle.  

The soiled bedding from the hens is composted and made into a valuable soil amendment.  This is used to grow squash which is fed to the hens, making their eggs fabulously nutritious.  There is no waste where you keep hens.  Any food scraps from our meals are mixed into the hens’ morning mash and turned into delicious eggs.  Elderberries grown in compost from the hen house are cooked and made into syrup and the solids fed back to the hens who attack them with gusto.  

One of the best ways to improve one’s life and civilization is to spend more time in the garden.  Oh yes, and get some hens too.  

Author: TIG