The tag line – Gardening in the Age of Armeggedon – was a tongue in cheek response to the prediction that the world was going to end May 21, 2011, which was shortly before I started this blog. I was writing my way through the end of the world, so to speak – or write. I continued on that vein with the upcoming supposed Mayan prediction that 2012 would mark the end. I thought it was fitting for me to author my way through it, given my almost prescient knack for being at the right place at the right time for witnessing what I deemed turn-of-the-page events from living less than a mile from the birth of the white buffalo in Janesville, Wisconsin in 1994 to standing and watching the first tower fall on September 11, 2001, amid other less significant (but still notable) events such as standing just feet from Geraldo Rivera when he got punched in the face at a Klan/anti-Klan rally to unwittingly (and unknowingly till it was too late) sitting next to the inimitable Steve Buscemi, at the old Knitting Factory (the one in Tribeca) for a good hour one night while waiting for my friends to show. It seems there was one other big one – or maybe it was a little big one – but I’m sure I’ll remember it after I finish this post.
In any event, the whole Armageddon thing was a little wink-wink. — Does anyone else think of “armadillo” when you hear the word “armageddon”? Are we on to something there? — And then I just kept writing. And gardening. And as I wrote and gardened, I naturally found myself paying closer attention to weather patterns and changes and consistencies in patterns. I noticed last year, for example, that I got black soldier flies in my compost, but those are rarely seen this far north (Brooklyn). Same with catching a glimpse of a black widow, who, as I found out, was part of a larger migration of the spider to these parts. Other occurrences that might not effect me directly (yet) but that I started paying attention to simply as signs of these times are the invasiveness of certain plant and animal species from kudzu in the south, which I saw spreading like a green relief version of the blob across large swathes of Mississippi when I visited a friend there, to Asian carp in the Great Lakes and the Snakehead fish (not so affectionately known as Frankenfish and Fishzilla) in the northeast. And then there are those damned onions that keep popping up in my front yard. I have done the ritual hacking at them for the year. Oddly (or maybe not, considering the inconsistencies and unpredictabilities these last couple gardening years have borne), even the omnipresent and irascible backyard weed that every year I have had to choke back in regular battles till summer’s end has inexplicably nearly gone into hiding, without explanation or adieu.
All of such stuff may be standard fare of gardeners over the ages. But tonight as I lay in bed listening to the endless rain pound away at my Brooklyn roof and drown my fledgling carrots and beets out back, I thought, nah, probably not. Probably, and more plausibly, this old Mother earth is really starting to feel our weight on her, especially the well-heeled weight of heavy hitters like Monsanto squishing its stiletto into her soggy soils. No one company is to blame for the fact that the rain bothers me tonight more than it does most. But it did flash into my head like a billboard for an upcoming Saturday night fight: Mother Earth v. Monsanto! And the rain pitter-pattered, incessantly, unendingly, while I turned around, took another sip of water, and tried to will my mind away from the oddness of the rain and into a peaceful slumber.
I ended up here instead. But it had been awhile since I’d poked my head in. And time is marching on. It matters that the gardeners of the world (that, as you know, is anyone who digs their fingers in the dirt with the hope to grow something) be noting these patterns, hiccups, and true deviations. Monsanto’s not going to do it for us. At least they’re not going to bring it to our attention if they do.
Meanwhile, I’m back after my longest hiatus yet. And ready and raring to stare out the window till this weather dries so I can get back in the yard and get that rose bush in the ground, and put the jasmine in a container big enough to give her shelter in warmer indoor weather in the brutal months (unlike the one I had two years ago — when I was simply excited to have a jasmine plant and even more thrilled it was a perennial, all the while not realizing I had some role to play too). For now, it’s back to my partner who (alarmingly to me given my partner’s usual eye rolling at dire suggstions) admitted that we really do need to have a more thorough preparedness kit in the house. Not like it’s Armaggeddon or anything – my partner was quick to point out. “The weather’s just been really weird lately.” Yes. It has.
As I was writing a response earlier, a window popped up on my PC stating that the virus scan I had started 2 days ago had finished, and as I told it to back then, was now powering off my computer. A reminder perhaps, that sometime even with the best of intentions, there can be unexpected consequences. So here it goes again…..
I received an email with the following link:
It’s a wind map of the US showing direction and speeds. If you click the mouse it zooms in and gives latitude, longitude and wind speed. I have to play around with this some more as it may prove useful during or while a storm is approaching. For the past few storms I was more worried about wind than rain damage.
I recently read something about climate change. It said we are always told how we are destroying the Earth with ___ (FILL IN THE BLANK). It rightfully pointed out that we are destroying life on Earth, and the planet will return to it’s former self once we are no longer here tampering with it. I was reminded of a series ‘Life Without Humans’ if I recall correctly, showing how cities would decay with animals roaming the streets and plants growing everywhere they could. Plants absorb CO2 from the atmosphere, not carbon taxes- garden on!
Nobody can be prepared for everything, but often it can make things a lot easier. A preparedness kit needs to be customized for each situation. A homeowner with nearby trees may keep some plywood or tarps around to cover a broken window- and nails or other means of holding things in place. Cord of some kind can have hundreds of potential uses. Paracord, also called 550 cord can be bought in lengths of 100 feet up to spools of 1000 for $38. CampingSurvival.com seems to have the best prices for paracord. Paracord like duct tape has endless uses- just search on the internet!
Everyone should keep the basics. FEMA, Red Cross, and numerous agencies suggest water, flashlights, batteries, a radio, and some food- usually a minimum of 3 days worth of each. Don’t forget any pet’s needs. It’s easy to get caught up in buying ‘gadgets’ for preparedness, some quite expensive and some near useless if ever needed. Knowledge and creativity are useful and can eliminate the need for countless ‘gadgets’. One of my favorite sources for all kinds of information is TheSurvivalPodcast.com Use their search box, there are dozens of subjects.
Excellent advice, on all counts!! In addition to material needs, it’s also important to remember certain basic skills that can help us and those around us survive. I’m in the process now of looking for a good, affordable, general CPR class. I was about to sign up for one when I realized it was geared toward infants/children and it was not clear it is transferable to adults and more general scenarios. Of course it’s crucial to be able to help people of all ages, but since the classes are around $65.00/session, I wanted to make sure I was using my money wisely. Along the same lines, an occasional class on foraging for edibles never hurts. I have a collection of cards I bought on one of these foraging tours (I took mine with Wildman Steve Brill, if you’ll recall, Ralph), and was referring to it just the other day when I came across a plant that looked familiar but I couldn’t remember its details (and edibility). I think there should be scouting groups for adults. Through groups like Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, kids are learning the best stuff out there about surviving in difficult situations. Great for them, but adults need to be just as informed. I don’t remember enough from my scouting days to tie a slipknot (well, maybe I can and just don’t remember it’s a slipknot..I hope). But it sure would be fun to run around the woods and wear all those badges again, and learn a thing or two about survival skills. You never know when they just might come in handy. (enter, storm season).
I bought some paracord a while back and cut a few lengths to put into kits, and wound a spool of it to keep in the car. Realizing my knot skills were virtually useless I did some internet searches on the subject. I keep forgetting to order a deck of knot cards when I get something from Amazon. The one knot I can tie is a bowline knot. It’s pretty quick, easy, and strong leaving a loop at the end of your rope. I need to practice some other knots for different purposes. It may have been on Gutenberg.org that I found an old book about using knots. If I find it on my PC I’ll post a link. I just ordered another spool. If you’re handy you can weave all kinds of things from the stuff many of which people sell online- key chains, belts, bracelets, and dog collars to mention a few. I used some to replace broken shoe laces. If anyone is interested CampingSurvival.com has a good selection and about the best prices.They carry both ‘the real stuff’- made in USA to Mil-spec (which I prefer) and others. This is one product made in the USA which is superior to the copies. Although it may be classified as a gadget, there’s a reason why after tens of thousands of years man still uses rope and knots.
I too have many skills to learn. Recently a friend wanted to BBQ. Being spoiled with push button ignition on a propane grill, I looked at the bag of charcoal and paused. I got the coal lit with quite a bit of starter fluid, but it was a wake up call that I should learn how to light a fire- and lots of other things.