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My friends, and notorious party crew, playfully hit me upside my head last week and said:

“Really? You’re gonna go home and read books for a month?”

Six days. Two books. Not my greatest record, but I haven’t done this in a while. My “party crew” had to drag me out of a Barnes & Noble before I left because I spent 2 hours in there, picking out my favorite drug: books. And when I say dragged me out, I mean they called me to see where I was and I practically cried for them to save me from spending the money I didn’t have. They came, but I still walked away with four brand new novels.

One of these turned out to be an absolute goldmine. “Farm City” by Novella Carpenter. – The education of an urban farmer – It’s a national bestseller, so apparently I’m not the only one who thinks it’s grand. Anyway, this little 270 page book is Novella’s account of keeping a farm in the middle of the city of Oakland, California. Yep, in the ghetto; on a dead end street. It’s  a beautiful memoir about the struggles and rewards of growing your own food. The bad vegetable harvests, the turkeys and geese slain by stray dogs and opossums, the honey collecting, the amount of garbage it takes to feed two pigs. Yeah! Pigs… in the city!

It really makes you think how corrupt our society has become. How far we have fallen from our natural ways. Novella is right. How many of us would really eat meat, if we had to kill it ourselves? Now, I know I would. My father  killed enough animals in front of me and my sister when we were little for me to appreciate that a sacred life left the earth to feed me. I know I would have no qualms killing a cute little rabbit if I needed to eat. It’s the way the world works (my favorite phrase). I don’t have to understand how or why it works the way it does, I just accept that it does. Circle of life, blah, blah, blah. Yet people have forgotten this fact: ‘We’re not savages to raise “pets” in our backyard and then slit their throats and bleed them just so we can feed our kids.’ ‘There’s grocery stores for that… and paying jobs at the slaughter houses.’

Well, sorry to break it to ya, but savages we are. Animal instinct is hard to beat and we are animals at heart. Maybe individually we don’t hunt our own food anymore or raise beef on a farm, but we show our cruelty through the mass slaughter of chickens in warehouses (while the public slyly looks the other way). We watch neighborhood kids throw stones at homeless cats and dogs. We throw bombs on defenseless cities filled with civillians! Come’on!

To get back on topic, Novella also reminded me of the joy that growing your own food brings. It connects you with mother nature – God. It’s a peaceful and natural process, based on hard work and patience, that in the end sustains our life and makes us appreciate that small act of eating that our existence relies upon.  I think we sometimes forget, especially those of us that live in cities, that there is nothing more beautiful that the lush green fields and forests that used to cover the planet.

I’m a huge fan of traveling. I love other cultures and always want to explore the beautiful cities of the world. When I was younger and told my dad of my plans to live in a different city every 6 months, he looked at me and said:

“All cities are alike. All of them look the same with their gray buildings and smog-filled streets. Their trash filled garbage cans and the dirty homeless people that sit on street corners. No matter what city you go to, in the end each one is going to look exactly the same as the last one.” He would know, he’s traveled to plenty of them. But it’s the next part that stuck with me even though I still don’t fully agree with his ‘all cities are the same’ theory….

“Now go out into nature… walk into a forest or stand on a river bank or climb a mountain. You will never find a place that looks like another. No waterfall will cascade down exactly like its neighbor. No field will have the same assortment of flowers. No cave with hide the same kinds of animals.”

It’s the beauty of those places that keeps us mesmerized by the world we live in. As I grow older and see more places, yes, I’m absolutely astonished by the architecture, the amount of manpower and ingenuity and passion that went into some of our most gorgeous cities. I know – I walk the Red Square every chance I get and on my tour of London, I saw the massive and gorgeous castles of English royalty. Yet still, the sight that took my breath away was the rolling hills of the Scottish Highlands. The small wooden cabin in Northern Russia that stands between a pine forest and a small stream. When the air is crisp and you can’t hear the sirens blare by, that’s when you understand the world and how it works.

When your fingers dig into the soil and you see the first stem of your tomato plant sprout from the ground. When a tiny little chicken grows into a hen and you grab that first egg from its coop. That’s the real world. I think Novella really captured it and I’m so glad that I happened to pick up her book and say “Hey, this looks cool. I want to read this.”


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July 2018
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