Thursday, July 4, 2013

slow business

It's summertime in the south. After four years of college in the Northeast, I am still trying to re-acclimate myself to the excessive amounts of heat and humidity that the Carolinas generously offer. Admittedly, I've  become quite the New Englander, preferring its weather and climate, but as a lover of the outdoors I can't help but immerse myself in what is available to me in this particular place and time, humidity and all. 

I spent part of a recent afternoon picking wild blackberries along a relatively untraveled path in the woods. I was careful as could be, but inevitably finished the task with a few swelling bumps and minor scratches on my hands from the thorns on the blackberry vines. I am not complaining, though: as I surveyed each new patch of berry territory, I thought to myself, I am thankful that blackberry picking is slow business. In a day and age in which so many of us are able to whiz to the supermarket and fill our carts with almost any food product (never mind whether it's in season or grown anywhere near us at all!) at our mind's every beck and call, how refreshing it is to deliberately set aside time to free ourselves up to be slowed down. 

The concept of a sense of connection to one's food -- knowing the square of ground from which it sprang, taking part in the process of harvesting it -- is a concept as old as time, yet it can disappear stunningly (and unnervingly) quickly as societies plunge head-long into development and industry. It is not that these pursuits are inherently bad -- certainly not -- but as we witness our own culture continuing to embrace a whirlwind of instant gratification, convenience, and the exhilarating sense that everything is (or can be) at our fingertips, my challenge to all of us, myself included, is to think deeply about the richness afforded in activities that require us to move more slowly, to value effort and work, to appreciate the idea of scarcity of resources and luxuries. Picking blackberries is just one example; I look forward, this summer, to discovering new ways to go about 'slow business.' 

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