Lichen and the local economy

A few summers ago I watched a wasp attack a patch of lichen on our Adirondack chair.

Wasps are fascinatingly creepy as they stalk prey among the flowers, but this one got fooled. It stalked the lichen, then made its attack.

After a moment or two of trying to do something with the lichen, it flew a couple of feet away and then cleaned its legs, classic displacement behavior.

(It was embarrassed.)

The chair was made by a local man. We bought two, the price not cheap, but was more than fair, and he was surprised we opted not to oil them. We like to see things age as much as we do, and, in the local way of acceptance that is under-rated, he nodded and went on his way.

Because we chose not to oil our chairs, they have turned grey and are covered by lichen. They are now over a decade old, and will likely last another 5. With oil, they may have outlived us.

Wheat grown in our backyard by my toddler grand-daughter on an aging cedar chair made by a local craftsmen.

When we need new ones, we’ll seek the same man. We do not need chairs to outlive us. That’s what plastic is for.

Because we chose not to oil them a decade ago, I got to see a wasp explore the lichen, which might not seem like much, but I enjoyed seeing that a wasp could be as easily fooled as a human.

We are all easily fooled–life is foolish, in the best sense of the word.


A true economy starts with a seed

For nations, the lower long-term growth related to such losses might yield an average of 1.5 percent lower annual GDP for the remainder of the century. These economic losses would grow if schools are unable to re-start quickly.”
OECD

I am tired of the snake oil, the grifters, the liars, and the simply ignorant, all necessary for what we call the “global economy” to hum.

The economy, or the abstraction we call the economy, is doing immeasurable harm to countless beings, including humans. I do not care to prepare students for this. I am a public school teacher working in a public space to help students learn how to see, how to think.

Wheat from the backyard, grown by my two year old grandchild.

The word “economy” comes from Greek roots that mean, literally, to manage one’s household. “Global economy” is an oxymoron.

Every year some of my students plant the seeds to grow plants that bear food, using little more than calories from the sun, a patch of earth along the south side of our high school, the breath of living organisms that live in and around our neighborhood, and rain from the sky.

This is about as simple and local as an economy can be, and even this is complex beyond comprehension. A teaspoon of decent soil holds a universe of mystery. We are, after all, a part of the mystery.

Winter black radishes, harvested less than a month ago.

A seed will sprout for anyone, rain is still free, and our sun’s energy fuels us all–the Big Mac could not exist without all three. The fourth piece, carbon dioxide, the “waste” we breathe out, is as much a part of this as the rest–what we waste becomes what we build. Life is a cycle.

A true economy has little waste.

When somebody else plants the seeds for you, lifts the shovel for you, poisons the ground for you, picks the harvest for you, slaughters the harvest for you, trucks the harvest for you, and you’ve lost the connection to the seed, you’ve lost your connection to life and to the living.

A global economy, such as it is, depends on us wresting a child from her roots. A decent education, a decent democracy, a decent life depends on those very same roots.

And right now too many of us are rootless.

Another stuffie recipe

The problem with recipes gets down to the problem with any written language—feigned immortality. If the goal is to get the exact same flavor, then you need the exact same ingredients grown at the exact same time after a season of the exact same weather.

Even then you will fail.

Consistent flavor easy to attain with processed foods. Your industrial producers have mastered consistency, but at a cost. (I am not about to knock processed foods—there is an undeniable comfort in consistency and salt.)

From my 2 year old grandchild’s garden,resting on our Adirondack chair.

My wheat berries grown on a family farm came with an apology for their small size—it was the driest year in decades and well, plants need water. A tomato grown in my garden may taste slightly different than the one from yours. The clams I raked up yesterday are sweeter than the ones I hope to harvest in March.

Recipes are incredibly useful for proportions, for temperatures, for time in the oven—but not so much for ingredients. This one happened mostly by accident—I liked it so I wrote it down, but who am I fooling?

14 top neck quahogs

1 stick butter

1 celery stick chopped fine

1 medium onion chopped fine

1 tsp rosemary chopped fine

Few sprigs of rosemary to flavor the butter

¾ cup panko, though could use a little more (it’s all I had)

Red pepper flakes

Some chopped garlic, not too much

Some dry basil (my parsley patch seems to be gone)

Gobs of Parmesan cheese, to make up for the missing panko

Tiny splash of rosé wine for when your sauté goes south—it’s what was in the fridge, but it worked.

Cook the clams the usual way—simmer until open, chop the innards, save the broth.

Start the stuffing by melting a stick of butter. I like to add a few sprigs of rosemary while the butter melts. I take out the rosemary once it wilts.

Sauté the onions until they’re where you like them, then cool things down with splash of rosé.

Add the celery and chopped rosemary and let simmer a bit. Normally I would add the garlic here, but I forgot, and I think holding off the garlic until the end worked better.

Add pepper flakes to taste.

Dump and stir the panko, and when you realize that you do not have enough, add enough Parmesan cheese to let the whole thing clump together.

Scoop stuffing into half shells, bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.

Serve with some roasted Brussels sprouts and homemade rosemary/garlic bread.