Thirty-seventh Entry


graffiti on boarded up store in Soho New York



Thursday, April 23rd, 2020

Local boatyards and marinas are opening – “with social distance.”

This morning, a news commentator mentioned a TV show, a series that “everyone” is watching. I did not get the name, but it was not something I was watching. That kind of comment bugs me—it is one thing to refer to a very popular movie, but it’s different to say that “everyone” has seen it. Aren’t broadcasters supposed to be careful with their language, not chummy like right-wing AM radio hosts? “How much free time everyone has these days” is another phrase I hear a lot. It is likely generally true, but far from universal, medical people, teachers, grocers, and morticians (at least in New York) have had very little free time.

This mild aggravation with the media reminded me of a story a few weeks ago about a couple in the Midwest who was struggling to make ends meet. The main point they raised was that they were “even cooking the tops of their carrots.” That story has popped up in my mind a few times since. How, as a nation, did we get to a place where cooking carrot tops, or needing to cook carrot tops, could become national news, as a sign of hardship, or desperation? Good thing the couple knew to do this; most Americans do not even get tops with their purchased carrots, and when they do, the tops are likely thrown away, not even composted.

I do not throw away my carrot tops but, then, I have trouble throwing most things away. I boil the tops, along with nearly every bit of vegetable matter that falls to the side of my cutting board. The resulting stock is simple, delicious, and good for cooking rice or beans. Wasting most anything does not feel comfortable for me. I do not know where I learned to think that way. Definitely not from my parents, and not formally in school. If I had to guess, this habit may have come from teachers with whom I became friendly in my privileged private high school.

In those days, the late 1960s/early 70s, a very influential book (that not everyone read) was Helen and Scott Nearing’s Living the Good Life. My education (most of which occurred outside of the classroom) on alternative ways of living was informed in part by visiting a few teachers in their rustic homes. During my visits, I worked in their gardens, helped to put a roof on, or attempted some very basic carpentry.

Maybe my views about waste were formed then, or maybe that manual work, close to the land, resonated with my inherent distaste for waste – whatever it might include: lumber, fuel, food, or electricity.

I wonder what will be possible with student-teacher relationships in the months and years ahead? I suspect that at least several generations of evolution will be needed before our species can provide a rounded education via distance learning. It seems to me that a lot of advancement on this planet has come from grounded and caring teachers and the connections they have with their students.