"I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world." -Richard Dawkins

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


This is my daughter. This is my daughter, hangin' out with a freshly killed buck, which is actively dripping blood, touching it's head, asking about it's testicles, and by no means freaked out by the fact that it's dead, or about to be butchered and turned into months of pot roasts. Not crying her eyeballs out for "Bambi", nothing. I said to her before she left the house, "The deer is dead, Ro, okay? You should know that."

"Okay!" She bounded off.

Squeamish children make me sad. They make me sad in ways you cannot possibly imagine. When you lose touch with nature, you lose touch with reality. That's a sad fact. Think for a moment about what your child would do if tomorrow you couldn't go to the supermarket to buy hot dogs. If instead you had to attend a butchering, if you had to kill the pig you raised and named, with your own two hands. If a favored pastime for the children during this time was frying the tail by the stove over live coals or blowing up the bladder and playing with it like a balloon. You can't imagine that, can you- not really, not most of you.

We've lost touch.

Now, I'm a product of this disconnect. We opened my storage unit the other day to find the empty husk of a cicada staring back at me. I screamed in a fashion that my husband had never ever heard from me before. I kind of had a slight meltdown. It's not all insects that bother me. I swear. It's just cicadas. Come on, it was a bug! (An empty bug at that!) Who screams like that at the sight of a bug? Humans. Why?

(My opinion is that we're well aware of the fact that they outnumber us one-point-six billion to one.)

I'm going to be really frank with you, here. I HATE THIS. Truth! I hate this fake, weird living thing we're doing where we're so reliant on electricity, running water, contractors, sweat shops and the agricultural industries to provide everything we need, I don't think we could live on our own. We're kind of doing our kids a major disservice when compared to the children of 1810. Or 1910. 2010's a sad sack.

Let's say the world just catastrophically falls in, tomorrow. Yep- tomorrow! Tomorrow morning you wake up with a house buried in snow, no electricity, no running water, no gasoline for your car, only the food in your pantry and no internet to look anything up on. Well shit, now what?

Let me use myself as an example. I'm pretty clumsy, but I think I could use an axe and make firewood. My husband can shoot a gun, which means he can hunt. I have grown tomatoes and eggplants, but they both died of blight. I'm sure I can do it again, but not until May. I know where there's a couple of horse farms, but I don't know what I have that would be worth trade for a horse to ride to town to get to the store for dry goods or to do research at the library. Besides, I'm not exactly trained in animal husbandry. I've heard you need to lather horses? I don't actually know what that means. Oh and driving nails into their feet? Yeah, I might not be able to do that.

What else? I'm well versed in the usage of oil lamps, since my mom and I have long relied on them for light during power outages. I can cook and sew, both fairly damn well, thanks to both of my grandmothers and the abundance of women I've known in the SCA. That automatically sets me up for housewifery. I guess I'm slated to be a "Ma Ingalls" and not so much an "Annie Oakley".

I refuse to sign off on the idea that we'll never, as humans, need to go back to that place before technology, where we burned things for light and survived whole winters on dry beans and hard bread and had to kill our own meat. We might. We might again, and I'm raising a daughter to thrive in it. When she looks in the slow cooker to find out what dinner is, she doesn't ask, "is it beef or pork?" She asks, "is it cow or pig?"

She sews, and she isn't afraid of bugs, she likes to help cook and she has a very healthy respect for fire. Mostly though, she's unafraid. She's unafraid of things any other kid her age ought to be afraid of- dead and openly bleeding deer notwithstanding.

When she came back from seeing the buck, she had only one joyously, crazed, excited thing to say to me: "Guess what? Paul pulled all its guts out!"

(Photo from Meg & Paul Bearse.)

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