I grew up near west Michigan farmlands, moved away, then returned. It took me 58 years before I came to appreciate the beauty of a muck field in spring. Never referred to as mere “dirt,” muck is nutrient-rich, moist soil found in low-lying areas. Onions, carrots, potatoes, and especially celery love muck, in part, because muck retains twice as much water as other soil. Not a good idea to wear sandals when you’re trudging through muck.
Maybe it was the pitch-blackness of the dense muck contrasting with the delicate seedlings; maybe it was the gracefully curved rows chasing the field’s end; or maybe I was simply hungry for what was growing in front of my eyes; whatever it was that caught my attention, I sank the legs of my tripod in the muck, mounted my camera, and took some pics. It was a good day!
Wendell Berry is a poet, author, and former university professor. These days he lives and farms in Port Royal, Kentucky. Berry is passionate about sustainable agriculture, ethical food production, consumerism, wastefulness, the demise of the political process, and all things godly. I share some quotes from The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry.
The passive American consumer, sitting down to a meal of pre-prepared food, confronts inert, anonymous substances that have been processed, dyed, breaded, sauced, gravied, ground, pulped, strained, blended, prettified, and sanitized beyond resemblance to any part of any creature that ever lived. The products of nature and agriculture have been made, to all appearances, the products of industry. Both eater and eaten are thus in exile from biological reality . . .
But even in the much-publicized rebellion of the young against the materialism of the affluent society, the consumer mentality is too often still intact: the standards of behavior are still those of kind and quantity, the security sought is still the security of numbers . . . In this state of total consumerism – which is to say a state of helpless dependence on things and services and ideas and motives that we have forgotten how to provide ourselves – all meaningful contact between ourselves and the earth is broken. We do not understand the earth in terms either of what it offers us or of what it requires of us, and I think it is the rule that people inevitably destroy what they do not understand . . .
[T]he care of the earth is our most ancient and most worthy and, after all, our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it, and to foster its renewal, is our only legitimate hope.
I’m going to spend some healing time this week with the earth. Maybe I’ll plant or transplant something, buy from a local market, cook a meal from scratch, take an extended hike, drink more water. What might your plans include?
[If you like this photograph, or any others that appear in my previous blogs, I’ll mail to your home a 4″x6″ print in a white 8″x10″ mat, ready for you to frame. $10. Send me a message on my CONTACT page or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org]