When I say ‘way out in the country” it also implies going back in time. Being off-grid places us automatically in the 1940’s Rural America of our parents and grandparents.
Flies, mosquitoes, and ants were still a big problem in the 1940’s, and if you go far enough out in the county, they still are. Insects are still handled in primitive ways in Bush Alaska: flies trapped on sticky paper, mosquitoes killed by putting drops of iodine and vinegar in water tanks, ant hills burned out with turpentine.
Then there is the outhouse. That icon of the past, is still with us today– if you go out in the country far enough. It takes a lot of maintenance to keep an outhouse clean and relatively odor free, but it can be done — and still is. About the only thing that has changed about the sanitation side of things is that we no longer have to use crinkled up sheets of the last year’s Sear’s Catalog for toilet paper. The bucket of Quick Lime is still the same.
When the generator is off, there is still the silence of Nature — which is actually raucous enough all by itself, just normally drowned out by the hum of electricity. There’s the Morning Chorus of bird songs to be heard and the rustling of leaves in the wind and the rushing sound of water. It’s a different kind of sound and a different kind of silence “Out There” where you can actually see the stars at night.
I am, of course, used to this, grew up with it, and sink back into it as effortlessly as a duck paddling downstream. I can step out the back door and split kindling if I have to. I can still clean a fish or pluck a chicken, use cast iron cookware, or bake a blueberry pie from scratch.
Time is place, and mindset, too. My son, who grew up with computers and cell phones and automobiles finds the past disconcerting. What? There’s no place to plug in my cell phone? No USB port? You have to do what? How does this work? What IS this thing?
He holds up a “modern” hand-cranked appliance circa 1942…
For him, the actual, factual world is a surreal world, one that is disconnected from the ways and means he is used to. It makes him nervous to be so close to the Great Beyond. The idea of catching fish for dinner is somewhat odd.
It’s the same thing for all of us when it comes to learning the actual history of this country. It’s so different, so unexpected, and so much more colorful and complex than anything we were taught. The whole panoply of past experience opens up and takes on life and logic of its own.
Once you experience the past you know why you, a living man or woman, are part of the land and soil jurisdiction. It makes sense — your body comes from the land and soil and returns to it after death. The ground we stand on, is the final being, home, and resting place of all our ancestors.
There is a logic, a reason, that we are part of this country, and not just this nation.
There is a reason that we are owed the Law of the Land.
It is this fundamental truth, this circumstance of Being, that all the purveyors of fantasy and the con artists in the courtrooms and the Wall Street geeks and the Producers in Hollywood are trying to avoid.
I remember my younger cousin being astonished when she learned that John Wayne was dead. “But I just saw him yesterday at the movies…..” This is the Fake World, where the man is dead, but the image lives on. This is the world where fiction is mistaken for fact, the world where people like Henry Kissinger try to plan out the next 200 years for the rest of us.
I sometimes get grouchy because I find myself having to explain what Thomas Jefferson deemed “self-evident”—but Thomas Jefferson lived in a different place in time. What was self-evident to him has become obscure for us now. We have lost our fundamental footing on the land and soil, and that precious connection with where we come from and what we ultimately are.
We forget where we came from and then, lose track of where we are going, and after that, we get careless about how we are getting there, too. For some, indeed, for far too many people, the ends seem to justify the means.
The Truth is nicely hidden from us behind a wall of Plexi-glass and shiny metal, the same way that living women are hidden behind the image of a Barbie doll. My Economics Professor used to call all these obstacles to honest perception “The Shiny Object”. He’d take us out on field trips and confront us with “issues of ultimate value”.
Do you want a drink of water or a blanket to stay warm?
Your choices and your clarity about those choices not only impact your comfort level, but your survival in the actual world— the world I visited this past week, if only for a brief refresher course.
Forget about the Shiny Objects long enough to get grounded again this summer. Think deep thoughts about the nature of mankind and what is truly valuable. Appreciate the men and women who make the abundance of your food possible, who sew your clothes, who forge your tools.
Try making a blueberry pie from scratch— maybe for the first time, or like me, remembering how to.
Think about how that bratwurst sizzling on your grill got there. Think about the gasoline filling your tank.
Once you stop long enough to think about it, you will know that it all comes from the Earth, through labor, for your use and possession for a time. It’s the same story for us all. We all come from the Earth, through labor, to have and hold our own life as a possession for a time.
This core knowledge of what we are, where we come from, and where we are going, is part of what Jefferson deemed to be self-evident, and what we have to remember — if we are to make sense of our own lives and to restore our lawful government.
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