Good country people! Gather 'round. If you read my first column and you've found yourself willing to take a gander at a second one-bless your ever-lovin' heart, and let's get down to business.
Picture this: a cherubic child in a creek lifting flat stones slowly so as not to agitate and cloud the water, looking for crayfish.
The fat child was me, and I was with my cousins and it was summer, and when we had to go to Vacation Bible School, we walked together and we walked down a country road. We befriended dogs. We sang songs. We dreamed and planned clubs and forts and the idealistic laws we would make if we were in charge.
We visited an elderly Polish couple who had lived down the road from our grandparents since our own parents were kids, and who would give us hard candy and we would insist they accept our bouquets of Queen Anne's Lace and other ditch weeds. I didn't like school so much, because of the meanness that could be found there, but I felt this area made up for it in the beauty of the land and in the rich quirks in the character of the people, such as yourself. Plus all the wonderful and mysterious beasts on wing and hoof and fin.
Now I know that it is hard to perceive in the moment, that what we do impacts the future, but we all know it's true in a rational sense. We know it would be blasphemy to be creatures on a planet behaving as if the health of the planet has no bearing on the creatures' very own well-being. You can have no wealth or plans without a habitable earth on which to dream them up and carry them out.
What we do every day steers the course toward that cumulative health. That health has been more than proven to be in serious peril - but before you feel overwhelmed with fear or sadness (as I once was), consider this: all you can do is embrace a life that refuses to frivolously destroy for material luxury. That means, giving homemade gifts, using creativity and old fashioned skills, minimizing your use of electricity as best you can, growing food (having chickens, ducks, a fish pond - anything to build the precious life in the topsoil instead of stripping and depleting it). Instilling within children a respect for the world as if their lives depend on it (because they do).
It has been shown that to hunt deer in your own local area is more environmentally friendly than to be a vegetarian buying processed meals at chain stores made from mono-culture mega crops. So don't take guff from vegetarians who scoff at hunting. Hunting is a fading art, but I hope that doesn't fade here. When I was a kid I was upset by it, but I loved going with my dad because it was an adventure. Now that I have had to face the concept of death in recent years, I appreciate being connected to what you eat in such an intimate and respectful way. It is not easy to do the right thing, but (surprisingly to me) there is a lot of pleasure that comes from trying to.
The research is conclusive, the age of excess and convenience is over. Choices need to be made, and I just want us to be a strong community and for there to be healthy land/air/water and for other kids to have memories like I did.
We must maintain a resilience against mental and moral fragility in times of hardship and disillusionment. It just doesn't happen automatically, there isn't a single politician in authority designing it so it'll "all work out fine."
You're officially invited to the party - and it is a party - it's the most life-affirming, sensory-stimulating, soul-stirring, friendship-sparking, meaningful path I've ever found. As we all know, it's hootenanny season in Chautauqua County. We all love a good hootenanny. And I'm just inviting you to the biggest hootenanny of your life - it's called your legacy of responsibility and I believe in one way or another, everybody's going to have to account for it on their individual judgment day.
Lindsay Morrison is a Forestville resident. Her column appears monthly. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org