A quick look around the internet at the writing of many futurists, (Jim Kunstler, for example) will unsettle even the most sunny of optimists. Dire predictions about the sudden and cataclysmic collapse of our soon-to-be-energy-starved civilization abound. In my darker moods, I'm inclined to believe them. Or to at least lend them enough credence to get depressed.
But rather than completely succumb to the dark pleasure of resignation and despair, I occasionally find small ways to shake my fist at the cruel Melvillian Universe.
Last year, I made some adjustments around my daily commute to and from my workplace.
This year, I planted a garden.
Since Maty and I live in the city, on a standard city lot, we don't have a lot of room. But since I tore out my dandelion-infested lawn years ago, there is plenty of space for a raised vegetable bed.
So, I enlisted the help of my (very handy) brother, Calee, and constructed a vegetable bed that is now producing red-leaf lettuce, white onions, lemon cucumbers, and three different types of tomatoes. The lettuce and onions went into the ground in early May, and the tomatoes and cucumbers on Memorial Day. Maty and I have already got two salad's worth of lettuce for our efforts, with more to come.
Our front yard also has a nice canebreak of raspberries which are thriving to the point of my having to cut them back twice a year and a couple blueberry bushes. I've been disappointed, so far, by the blueberries. They don't produce much and they're scrawny. But this fall, I'm going to move them to a sunnier spot in the yard to see if that makes a difference.
On our back deck, which gets so much sun that we can't even sit out there in the summer, we put potted strawberries, more cucumbers, purple(!) bell peppers, spicy Thai peppers, and Maty's favorite, habañeros.
If you've never had a garden before, even a little city garden like ours, I highly recommend it. There is something very rewarding in putting something in the ground, tending it, and watching it flourish. And I can tell you that home-grown strawberries taste much better than anything you'll get at the supermarket.
Of course, if our civilization is heading for a collapse, this little city garden isn't going to make much difference. To prevent a new, cruel Dark Ages we will all need to change our perceptions and priorities.
But, hey... it's a start.