Sunday, September 8, 2019

the future devastated by a self-indulgent present

the strawberry as canary

what have we lost
with strawberries available all year?
this extraordinary gift of the plant kingdom to us
can be found in our grocery stores every day of the year,
always good to very good,
and the excellence of an in-season, fresh-picked berry
fades in our experience, dims in our memory,

with fossil fuels transporting our foods all over the world,
it takes but a small proportion of our resources
to have fruits and vegetables fresh to our tables,
let alone seafood and meats,
think ubiquitous lamb from the other side of the world,
recently shrimp from Argentina and Southeast Asia,

Spring was hard a hundred years ago,
particularly where one had to rely on one’s own farm, and neighbor’s,
the first leaves a tonic for a depleted immune system,
a hunger deep in the stomach
as salted meat, dried vegetables, and canned produce ran out,
wild animals too skinny to be of much help to the hunter,

we no longer live with at the beck and call of seasonal cycles,
at least in terms of nature and its bounty,
I wonder if the easy arrogance of humanity’s Narcissism
might doom us so that we do not understand
that there are rules we ignore at our own peril:
the finite resources available that can be rapidly consumed 
by an explosion of population,
the consequences to the future of burning in the present,
the immediacy of gratification dwarfing what we can know 
of harder paths that should be what we follow,

for me, strawberry season used to be short, and exhilarating,
we have found a way for our desires to not be denied,
and I fear there will be a devastation in the future
if we preoccupy ourselves with a self-indulgent present.

by Henry H. Walker
September 2, ‘19

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