Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Autumn Winds

I came home this evening with the usual disconnected, uprooted feeling that I have after a long day in the classroom. The danger is that I'll sit down with a book or the television, have a glass of wine, another . . . another, and be too fuzzy for any serious work.

To avoid that outcome, I decided to cut firewood. The little Husqvarna chainsaw is finally out of the saw-repair shop (it had a midlife crisis), parts having finally arrived from Sweden by sailing ship.

Racing against sundown, I started cutting pine and juniper limbs that had been sitting in a stack all summer after the branch-breaking blizzard in March. The west wind carries a suggestion of moisture--the first snow for the high mountains? Rain for us? It's the 9th, but that wind felt equinoctial.

Last Sunday, the 7th, Mary and I were invited for a potluck brunch at "the squire's." That's how we think of him: a rich doctor with a ranch at the end of our road, and a couple of others in Colorado, British Columbia, and maybe somewhere else. The guests included some of our neighbors (his former employees), the publisher of the county newspaper and his wife, a German exchange student, and a few other locals. It was interesting how much the conversation focused on vegetable-gardening and greenhouses. (Coincidentally, we had just ordered one ourselves from Seeds of Change after the contractor who was supposed to build one for us flaked out.). I keep thinking about how all these people, most of whom are comfortably well off, were talking like survivalists.

The next day I talked with another friend at the other end of the county, a fulltime freelance writer, who has horses and burros, but primarily for pleasure, and suddenly he is talking about large-scale greenhouses, production growing of "micro-greens" for the local organic growers' cooperative, and how much land he could legally irrigate under his well permit.

Another friend down by Durango slipped the phrase "small livestock" into his last message, without being more specific. He's the former Western field editor for Mother Earth News, so I think that he might be on to something. This is starting to feel a lot like the 1970s all over again; I get that feeling every time I see a newspaper article about the possibility of fuel-cell cars. There is something in the wind saying that a degree of self-sufficiency is going to be in style again.

What Mother Earth News says about harvesting rainwater is technically a violation of Colorado's byzantine water laws, but we do it anyway. Now we need a bigger tank.



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