May 18, 2013
Trying to keep up with the plethora of “scandals” and “investigations” carried out in Congress this week, I wondered if this had been what life was like in the Roman Empire as, passing its peak, overreach set in and the empire began its slide into decline. The corruption of political principles, the plotting and backstabbing (sometimes literally) as one venal group or another sought to overthrow their current ineffective and equally venal Emperor, might have seemed a lot like what we are watching today. The business of the people went unattended and those who lifted their heads from the bread and circuses long enough to notice, began to flee into the countryside where they engaged in subsistence farming in order to survive.
So far, no one in our own brittle empire has literally drawn the long knives in their political machinations to subvert the “will of the people” in the last election cycle, (however malignant that will might seem to them or us, in their or our particular political affiliations). Though I suppose – if history is true to itself – it’s only a matter of time.
I ponder these things – especially this time of year, as I go out to garden. I’m too old and too slow to flee to the countryside, but in truth, what I am doing is learning my own, backyard version of subsistence farming. For once those long knives are drawn, I fear it will be too late for the bread and circus crowd.
This year, I am planting more of everything. We’ve had enough rain to bring us out of drought status and more, although that may change as we move into summer. I saved back a few of the tomato and pepper transplants, hoping to outwit whatever small critter has already devoured two of the tomato starts I planted last week in between rain showers. I’m putting up the blog post early today, so I can get out to the garden and replant them after I finish planting the other vegetables. The weather has finally settled into a late spring pattern and we are expecting more rain tonight, with possible severe weather late tomorrow into Monday and Tuesday. The early crops that came up are beginning to produce and the ones that lazed about and didn’t come up, I will replant this fall.
I don’t expect things to go belly-up tomorrow in the Empire. But the drip, drip, drip of decline, with what seems to me, at least, to be a steady increase in the cost of everything, wears away at my fixed income – as it does for many in even harder circumstances. The weather is cooperating, the soil is fertile and I am in good health. So, I plant more this year and hope I will have enough to put away for the winter, share with friends and neighbors and give to the local food banks.
And with all the crazy goings-on in Washington these days, I keep a wary eye out as I garden – just in case the long knives come out and the backstabbing begins for real.