Long ago and far away, people produced a lot of what they consumed. They grew food, made clothes, maintained their property and built what they needed. Specialty things, of course, were made by craftsmen, but trade was largely limited to what they were INCAPABLE of making, not what they didn't have time for. Mostly.
These days, we buy products and services with the value of our labor through currency exchange. It's a marvelously complex system, with more possibilities for spare time, entertainment, fulfillment, experience, creativity, procrastination and funny cat pictures than ever could have been considered before. I love the modern age. We have Wikipedia, email, Wal-Mart (or Target if you think Wally World is evil), penicillin, relatively safe pregnancy and childbirth, antibiotics, vaccines, air travel, Netflix, video games and dishwashers. We have a black president and Nazi zombies in Austin. Life is good.
And yet there are things that I have never experienced, yet I am somehow nostalgic for. I first experienced this sensation while reading Ray Bradbury - Dandelion Wine, to be specific. I next felt it when looking at a flock of chickens. I felt, somewhere inside my soul, that this strange bird was missing from my life. It took some time to understand why.
There's a disconnect in life tied into the growing and consumption of food. To my children, food comes from a grocery store. You BUY food. It's grown somewhere over the rainbow, as far as they're concerned. Eggs came in strangely fragile packaging, and meat was this red or pink stuff wrapped in Styrofoam and cellophane. These were not plants or animal products at all; these were consumables, as distant from their source as a Snickers.
Staring into the eyes of a chicken, I was drawn back to the roots of food. I had gone to a feed store in search of a gardening product, and instead encountered several cages with pairs of chickens. I had thought chickens were temperamental, smelly things, but these birds didn't smell and they seemed quite friendly and sweet. They were also hilarious to watch. I was enthralled. It first occurred to me as I sat there with the birds that it was a very bad thing to not recognize the source of food, to have no relationship with what I consumed. And a large part of this was how I was raised. All the food in my natal home came frozen in boxes. My mother was not a gardener, and she worked a lot. I knew that I wanted something different for my children. Not necessarily better - we were healthy growing up, and my mother gave us a good life. Just different.
So I plotted, I researched, I read and I saved. And next week I bring home the chickens. My son is not entirely sold on chickens; I think he isn't too sure about them, like I was before I got to know them. But I hope he will see in them what I saw that day, a way to move one step closer to the kind of people we want to be.
I just hope he'll take to chicken coop cleaning duties for allowance ...
About the Author: Julie Cox is a new pagan writer and artist who lives with her two young children and husband in Texas. She carries degrees in both Art and Religion. To see more of Julie's artwork go to Shopping and Art gallery on our main menu.