“...[N]one of the structural or fundamental elements that sparked the first round of [economic] difficulty have been addressed. There is still too much debt (only now parked over on public and central bank balance sheets), energy is still depleting, and the cash demands of existing claims on wealth continue to expand exponentially even as the engines of wealth production are coughing and sputtering. ...Taken all together, the signs I am reading suggest that the next break in the markets and/or financial system is drawing near.” -- Chris Martenson, www.chrismartenson.com
“And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard -- It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.” -- Bob Dylan
Note from author:
It’s a weird time right now, no? Everybody with their head not lodged firmly in their posterior knows the whole thing’s going down. How could it not? The industrial economy is as fragile as a dusty old wooden structure in the advanced stages of termite infestation -- it still LOOKS relatively sound from some perspectives (e.g. through the rosy glasses of the NYTimes)...but upon even cursory inspection, we find that -- gasp! -- there’s nothing there. It’s hollowed out and brittle and weak...and it’s going down. Exactly how, we’re not sure. Take your pick. Exactly when? Tick, tick, tick...
And the weirdness of it all comes from the creepy routineness and seeming normality of everything that continues to go on around us. We get up, go to work, take care of the house/yard/garden, play with the kids, etc; we feel the seasons progressing in the halting way that they do; we read the news and talk to the neighbors -- and all the while, knowing that this...this THING looms just over the horizon.
And the scariest part maybe is that we don’t really know what this THING is. Is it hunger? War? Is it something that will drive my family away from our home? Something that will kill us? Is it something we’re not ready for? Is it something we’ll be able to handle? Something we’ll rise up to the occasion for? Something that will bring us together? Something that will rip us limb from limb?
I don’t know. We don’t know. Nobody knows.
But SOMETHING’S coming, and it scares the crap out of me. Tick, tick, tick...
I. My chestnut seedlings don’t know the economy is about to collapse.
They have no idea.
Now of course, they DO know the things that young trees know. They know it’s Spring. They know they’ve somehow avoided the nibbling of mice and deer over the winter. They know the rain-moistened soil feels nice around their roots and that their buds are about to burst open. I imagine they’re pretty excited in the way that trees get.
But I bet they won’t notice at all when it happens. I bet they won’t notice one bit when I lose my job. Or when money becomes worthless and gasoline gets hard to come by. Or when the noise of traffic on the road gradually thins out and gets replaced by the conversations of people walking. They’ll just keep on in the rhythms of the days and the weather and the seasons. They’ll just keep on doing what young trees do.
And they’ll find it perfectly normal in fifteen years or so to feel the scampering of children’s feet over their roots to collect the shiny amber chestnuts as they drop down in the Fall. They’ll find it just as normal as if squirrels or deer or bear or turkeys or raccoons got the nuts.
And it’s funny to think now -- in this odd time when our energy-surplus-fueled American lifestyles elevate us so dizzyingly high above the hand-to-mouth existence of ‘the beasts’ -- that we will again soon join them.
That we will again be living our lives as close to the edge as a squirrel, a deer, a bear, a turkey, a raccoon.
That we will be at the mercy of the soil, the rain, the sun.
...And the really scary part, maybe (for we have so little practice at it now) -- at the mercy of each other.
But the trees know none of this.
They just keep on doing the things that young trees do.
II. My sheep don’t know the economy is about to collapse.
They have no clue.
And why would they? They’re sheep. Newly turned-out onto pasture, they’re lost in the ruminant ecstasy of the Spring grass -- the annual orgy of tender, fragrant green blades after a Winter of scratchy, dried hay. Now and then they still look up at me and bleat -- falling back unconsciously to their winter habit. But then they’re back, heads down in the grass, forgetting me entirely.
Oh, they’re so pretty.
And you know, I don’t think they WILL notice much when the economy goes down. I mean, they don’t eat grain, so that won’t be a problem. ...But their hay might change some. It’ll eventually get fed to them loose, I imagine. No more diesel-powered, squished-together bales at some point. Just fork it down from the loft like they used to do. That’s no problem, I guess. We’ll figure something out.
Oh yea...and then there’s the salt. The salt I give them would probably change. Who knows where I’ll get it down the road? -- or even if I CAN get it, once the economy goes down. I imagine I’ll be able to find some. Maybe stores will have it. Who knows? Somebody trading it in from the Jersey shore, maybe? Where did they get it in ‘the old days’? ...Maybe we’ll do that again. I don’t know. Maybe I should buy a few more bags, just in case.
Lots to do.
Oh...and how the hell am I gonna shear them? Maybe someone’ll come around & take some wool for payment -- someone who has hand shears. Heck, I don’t know -- maybe the electric ones will still work. For awhile at least. Who knows? Maybe I should get some hand shears myself. ...I say that, but I know I’m not gonna. I don’t have the money or the time. ...But that’s a lame excuse. I could buy them now. But I won’t. There’s just too much I need -- that I‘m gonna need.
It’s overwhelming sometimes -- how unprepared I am.
But it’s not overwhelming for the sheep. They’re happy as...as sheep on pasture.
They’re so pretty.
And they don’t have a clue.
III. My youngest daughter doesn’t know the economy is about to collapse.
She doesn’t even know what an economy is, I suppose. She’s six.
She knows we can buy most anything at the store -- food, clothes, furniture, toys, baby ducks. She knows we have some limited amount of money, but that we can get most everything we really need.
But she also knows that I worry about ‘the Earth’. She knows that I work in the garden, and plant trees, and help run the community garden, and keep chickens, and turn out lights, and keep the thermostat down, and pick up trash along the road to ‘help save the Earth.’
She knows that all those water jugs and extra seeds and jars of rice & beans in the back room are there in case the electricity goes out. She asked me why it might go out, and I said a tree could fall on the lines.
...Which is true.
And then she said, “But it’ll get fixed soon, right?” And I said, “Yea, they’ll fix it. Don’t worry -- We’re good.”
...Which is not really true.
She knows that I worry that ‘the Earth is sick’ and she thinks I know what we can do to make it better -- and that I write articles sometimes to tell people how to make the Earth better.
And she thinks I have the power to make it better. ...And I’m letting her think that for now.
Oh, good God! God help my little girl. My poor little girl. I’m so sorry, baby.
We fucked it up so bad.
I’m so sorry.
It’ll be OK.