Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The art of survival

When I first started my garden, after several years of apartment living, I also started watching gardening videos and reading gardening sites. With a few exceptions, I found most of them not helpful. I already know most of the information they offer. I can't help it, I'm not being a smart ass, but, you can't get this old without know a thing or two. I did find a lot of them entertaining though. Somewhere along the line I slipped into the survivalist gardens and lifestyle. I've ran into survivalists before in my life and they are often interesting people, at least for short periods of time. After a few conversations though, my interest waned. Survivalists are people who think the world, as we know it, is going to end and they will be prepared. They can hunt, fish, garden and live off the grid. Uhh, I can do all those things too, but, I don't think the world is ending. They might be right and I might be wrong, but, I doubt it.
When I was a kid we didn't call it being a survivalist. We called it being poor. We were really poor, dirt poor. My father hated working. On my birth certificate his occupation is listed as "cotton picker." That cracks me up. I don't remember him ever picking anything. I remember us picking crops and him sitting around in his fancy duds and dapper hat, drinking, while hatching get rich quick schemes. If anyone was a survivalist, it was my Mother and Grandmother. My Grandmother was a sharp woman who could "make do" and she taught me to make do. We are the makin-est do people you ever saw. Later on, when I grew up and eventually became what all poor kids dream of, I still made do.
But, this isn't a sob story. I don't think kids give a shit if they're poor most of the time. I never did. Oh, sure, you wish you had a decent coat for school, but, that's only a temporary worry. Kids are happy because they're kids. No matter how bad life gets, you still find pleasure in the discoveries of childhood. Someone should tell Jon and Kate that. Kids don't need mansions and vacations....they just need the day to begin every morning. After that, they will entertain themselves.
Some of the survival videos are comedy gold. One guy held up a handful of green onions..that's all he got in his first attempt at gardening..and told the camera "My wife and I won't have to buy onions for a long long time." Seriously. Can you not laugh? He was so sincere. Dude, I can buy an onion for 15 cents. I can live without onions. Let's move on. There's one interesting guy who lives in a fairly decent cabin in the mountains with his wife and kids. They are "off the grid." Which means they are not beholden to any utility company. He tells about survival techniques and his kids help. They are small children and they're learning, but, what I like about them is, the kids look damn happy. Little barefoot critters, dirty, running to the outhouse, bathing in the creek..these kids don't know anything else. They are happy when Daddy shoots a squirrel for supper. My Daddy was too damn lazy to shoot squirrels, we had to learn to do that ourselves. It was kind of a cross between The Clampets and Grapes Of Wrath. Still...childhood is happy. Just because you're a kid. People should remember that.
Who would have thought, back then, that I'd have a blog on this thing called the Internet? I guess I know a thing or two about survival. You have to feed your mind too. That's for sure.

Photo credit: Dandy-fjs.


Eric in San Diego said...

Here's to all the "make do" types in the world!

I understand the poor thing. We were always poor when I was a wee tyke. A succession of bad marriages to bad men made my mom an expert on "making do". When the State stepped in to "help" and made the four of us Foster Children, I found out that there are different kinds of poor, not just physical poverty.

I feel you, DD, and appreciate where you're at.

Disher said...

Yep. Thanks, Eric.

Anonymous said...

I have to say, that I too, grew up poor. When it would rain, we literally couldn't cook because all the big pots and pans were collecting rain that came through the roof.

We had one kerosene heater in our living room to keep the entire house warm. When it was really cold, my mom would turn the oven on and we would sit in front of it.

My parents blew money on poker machines...literally their entire check some weeks.

We wouldn't even have the $1.10 for lunch some days.

It was hell! I never had friends over, BUT it has made me who I am today. No, I never had the nicest clothes, didn't even have a car, but I know the value of a dollar because of it.

I have worked hard, put myself through college (got my Bachelors & Masters) and feel that I have done pretty damn well for myself considering that I'm only 29, turn 30 this year!

I don't think I would have been so determined to do all of that had we had money.

dirtydisher said...

Oh, gawd anon, I remember pots and pans to catch leaks too. And the cold. Oh, man, the cold. And being hungry. Still...I also remember that no one watched us. We were so free. 'Specially in the Summer. Dang, the stuff we'd get up to and the creativity we used..unbeliveable.

dirtydisher said...

Today I see trampolines in every other yard and no kids on them after the first month. Pffft. Try dragging in a mattress and box springs from the dump and jumping off the roof. LOL. Damn, you get pissed when someone steals your dump mattress for a bed though.

OmeOmy said...

Eric, you are a fascinating and engaging person..I have always enjoyed your comments as well as your snarks on DD's old blog. (That feels/sounds weird saying that, when it was just a day or two ago I posted a comment). I am sorry for the difficult experiences you dealt w/as a child. I guess all of us have a story. Thanks for sharing just a piece of your history.

Anonymous said...

Understand where you are coming from.

Eric in San Diego said...

Thank you, Omeomy. Glad we are all here, following our DD! Life tosses us some awfully strange stuff sometimes, and it's what we do with it that helps define us. Being poor and having to grow up early has led to a very clear understanding of the value of a dollar, as well as leading me to be pretty immature as an adult! Good fun! Glad to see you here!

Anonymous said...

One common thread seems more and more apparent here at the LQ, those of us who've put in physically & emotionally backbreaking lives and come out all the more intresting for it because we refused to allow it to break or define us, have gravitated here to this little online garden.

Anonymous said...

I think it is also called Depression and I don't mean the physical sense lol.

Many people going through the Depression had to live this way because they had no other choice.

This was carried down to their children who never understood and thought their parents were just being stingy.

Great post.