The girls and I had such a fun day today. We met up with our friends early in the morning and caravanned up North to where our other friends live and spent the day all together at the Indiana Dunes. I love the Dunes. We really only end up making it up there once a year, but every time we go, no matter the weather or season, we have a fantastic time. It's fun to be able to give my kids a beachy experience despite the fact that we are actually landlocked. It's also neat to be able to stand on the beach and see the city of Chicago in the distance. Lake Michigan is important to us more recently because of reading Holling C. Holling's Paddle to the Sea last year in our schooling. Today Greta found a little red plastic tomahawk in the water and she wondered aloud through many scenarios of it's origins, no doubt inspired by good old Paddle.
Between our families we had eleven children ages 2-9 years and it was a liiiiiiittle bit frazzling at times keeping track of everybody. But it was so worth it.
Even the drive up there wasn't too bad. It takes only about 90 minutes on the interstate to get from home to Lake Michigan, but today it started to rain so we took a back route through a small town. It was really beautiful; lots of homesteads and cottage-style houses, in what I feel like are some of the original “suburbs” of the nation. (I don't know if they really are, but that's what my imagination says they are.)
Yesterday Martin and I had been talking about cars and roads. We were wondering about the morality of driving cars. (I know, we sound like loons. But until we actually refuse to drive cars and believe they are wicked, I don't think we're completely off our rockers yet!) When you think of cars these days, it comes along with the fact that everybody's in a hurry. Everyone needs to get somewhere, and they need to get there FAST. It's so important for us to get places quickly that we will literally risk our lives and the lives of our passengers to make it happen. Today we didn't caravan back home—my kids were slow to get in their car seats and I was slow to leave, so our friends went on ahead of us. I decided to take the interstate the whole way back because I don't really know my way through the small towns of The Region, so I jumped on I-94. And I-94 WANTED TO KILL ME.
I kid you not, I was driving above 70mph and I was the slowest vehicle on the road. It was hands down the most stressful thing I've done in a really, really long time, INCLUDING having to squeeze a newborn kitten's head through a cardboard tube of washi tape after he crawled into it and got stuck. (that was yesterday. I seriously thought I was going to pull his head off, but he survived with no injury.) I can't even tell you how scary it was for me to drive on a packed, zoomy, ridiculous road like that. I AM A PEDESTRIAN, PEOPLE. I DON'T DO FAST DRIVING.
But that's not why I'm morally against cars. (haha! Kidding! I'm not really... not yet.) It's not because I personally am afraid of them. It's because I risked the lives of my kids to be able to have a fun day with our friends. Now, on the one hand, without a car at all, it couldn't have happened. However, I really feel that driving, like so much of the world, has gotten kind of out of control. The “progress” of speed in the vehicle industry is not necessarily a good thing. The “progress” of so many roads, while I realize they create jobs, allow spread out friends and family to see each other, etc., is encouraging people to spend more time in cars, to live farther away from each other, because—why not? Zip, zip! I can be anywhere I want in a flash! If we took life more slowly, we still could have driven to the Dunes today and had a fun, full day. We could have made it a three+ hour drive rather than ninety minutes and had just as great of a time. If we could just slow down.
While we were gone, Martin occupied himself by starting fires with bow drills and hand drills and foraging plants and stuff. He was going to go fishing, but decided not to because the creek he was going to fish in is labeled a 5 for fish eating safety, which translates to “DO NOT EVER EAT FISH FROM THIS WATERWAY OR YOU WILL PROBABLY DIE ON THE SPOT.” How gross is that? And how depressing is it that we as people of industry and progress have made it to be that way? Our “progress” on land had made it so that we cannot safely harvest food from natural sources. This does not seem right to me. This does not sound like progress.
I could, admittedly, live about an hour if I had to forage all my food and water. I can imagine myself going “hunting” and throwing a stick at a rabbit, then dying of a panic attack when I didn't kill it. (Or did! Really, either result would bring panic!) And if I didn't die of the panic attack, I'd just eat something poisonous. Plant ID is not my forte. Luckily, I married a guy who could live totally comfortably well into his old age as a hunter-gatherer. Except, it doesn't matter how much skill or knowledge you have if your edibles are not healthy to consume. There is a sign along the riverbank downtown that warns of sewage overflow in the event of heavy rains and flooding. That's disgusting. I generally allow my kids to eat sorrel when they find it. But when we find sorrel along the riverbank growing near a sign the warns of sewage overflow? Um, that's gross.
And that's not progress.
I don't even know what we can do about it. You can't really undo industrial progress. You can't surprise workers all over the planet by sneaking a wild edible pamphlet into their paycheck envelope and saying “good luck.” You can't just tell people we aren't going to drive cars anymore. I know so many areas of society are trying to repair the damage we've done, but I don't really see it being able to happen. Sadly.
I don't know. Maybe I'm becoming an extremist. Maybe I've been Earthing too much and all those electro-energy molecules are traveling from the soles of my feet up to my brain and turning me into a hardcore radical nature preserver of the worst kind. Maybe you'll see me in the bushes along I-94 sometime soon wearing clothes made only of leaves tied together with homemade nettle fiber cordage, throwing free-range eggs at cars.
Okaaaay, probably not. You'll more likely see me in the Aldi parking lot (where I park my fossil fuel powered vehicle) and trade me my cart for a quarter. But you never can tell what the future holds, and I think Aldi does carry free-range eggs.
Time to go wash the sand out of my hair.