September 24, 2011
Not a good week for world finance or the global economy. While the stock markets here and abroad played a game of “up a little, down a lot” and Europe dithered over what to do about Greece, the world economy slowed and slid toward a double dip recession (at least for those who had managed to come out of the first dip). Moody’s, in a sudden flurry of “better late, than never,” added eight Greek banks and three of our own TBTF banks to its list of downgrades, along with the two large French banks it downgraded the previous week. Ben Bernanke did the twist while promising to use all available tools to save the deteriorating economy and warned Congress to get the nation’s fiscal house in order. Congress did what it’s been doing; each side set up the other for a “no” vote on yet another short extension of government funding while promising that their side would not let the government shut down and if it did shut down, it absolutely would be the other side’s fault, not theirs.
In the meantime, the last wheel is coming off the bus and the sparks from the dragging axels fly ever nearer the gas tank as the bus tilts toward the cliff off to the side of the road.
What to do; what to do.
Well, since I officially handed in my resignation from all this nonsense last week on this blog, I can’t tell you what to do. I will share with you what I’ll be doing.
Despite my best efforts, most of what I planted after late April this year died outright or quit producing in the heat and dry weather, so I’m planting seeds in peat pots and rearranging the south bedroom to plant a winter container garden again this year – even though last winter’s indoor garden was an unmitigated disaster. (Hint: Do not bring plants in from outside, no matter how tempting. If they have red spider mites or some other dread affliction, so will the rest of your plants – long before you realize they’re there.)
I’m growing sprouts on the kitchen table and will grow them all winter.
I’ve collected and dried what herbs survived the heat and the mint that grows wild near the back corner of the house. And I can always add a small herb garden to the garden room, if the indestructible resident mouse doesn’t beat me to them as soon as they sprout.
I will keep looking for a way to get rid of the indestructible resident mouse.
When the black walnut tree at the back of the yard loses it leaves and begins its yearly bombardment next month, I’ll collect what I think I can use. (I confess to an occasional, wanton lust for black walnut brownies and hot mint tea on winter evenings.) The rest, I’ll leave for the family that comes by to collect them from the yard, the alley and the church parking lot across the alley from us. They’ll get little enough from the walnut processors, but in this economy, every little bit helps, I expect.
I’ll add to my pantry.
I’ll keep on looking for ways to power down in this economy. My wants may be many, but my needs are relatively few.
I’ll spend some time planning next year’s outdoor garden.
I’ll be open to life, whatever it brings.
People are afraid right now. Life is suddenly full of unexpected bumps and bruises. Many of the things we thought were ours by right are going the way of the Dodo. But no one – not even the richest person you can name – came into this world with an easy-life guarantee stamped on their bottom. Money and power can cushion a lot of life’s hardships, but it can’t cushion you from the pain of a dying child or a terminal illness or other true losses in life. These are vagaries we all live with. It can’t buy genuine laughter, or curiosity, or wonder. These gifts are free to us all – even the poorest person you can name.
We seem to be heading into one of those periods that Thomas Paine called, “The times that try men’s souls” on a worldwide scale. We’re afraid. We could lose everything; we could die. But those things are true in good or bad times. What’s more frightening to me is that I might let those fears rob me of my ability to live until I die. I want, always, to hone laughter, to practice curiosity, to stock up on wonder – to live before I die, whatever the circumstances, and to pass those gifts on to others. It’s important to prepare with food, water and shelter to survive, but it’s also important to prepare those intangibles, so we can live after we survive. So, that’s what I’ll do this winter, too.