Fellow idlers, this is the time of year when you may be feeling restless. It’s a sort of uneasiness that arises from the mistaken notion that you should be out in the yard engaging in some productive activity. It can be easily explained by a theory I made up positing that so-called civilizational “progress” is just an illusion. Consider the hundreds of thousands of years of prehistoric time when we as a species were known as “hunter-gatherers.” This was an idyllic existence in which we chased deer and bunnies through the forest and in turn were chased by bears and wolves. When there were no delicious woodland creatures to hunt we went fishing in lakes, rivers and streams. If there was a genius in the tribe who knew how to fire up the grill it was barbecue time. Otherwise, we contented ourselves with sushi and steak tartare.
Gathering was a simple matter of watching out for the poison berries and putting the magic mushrooms aside for special occasions. And if you let the berries sit around for a while, a mysterious process known as fermentation might take place, and then you’d have the “special” berry juice.
We may believe we’re past all that today, but the habits of a hundred millennia are still with us. Think about it, how many guys still eagerly go hunting and fishing? And what about golfers? The ones I know spend an awful lot of time in the woods hunting for things. And let’s face it, what is shopping but a form of climate controlled gathering?
The only reason we’re no longer exclusively hunter gatherers is something horrible that came along about 10,000 years ago – a blink of an eye in anthropological terms – known as agriculture. Agriculture as originally practiced is the very epitome of drudgery. Instead of enjoying happy hunting and fishing parties, or traipsing off to fill your basket with ripe juicy berries and windfall fruit, agriculture makes us engage in stoop labor. Agriculture is about digging in the ground. When we hunt and gather, we immediately enjoy the fruit of our labors. Not so with agriculture. You must grunt and sweat today to till your field and remove weeds and stones. You must weed and irrigate the field during a long growing season. You must defend the crop from foraging birds and wildlife. Several months down the line, you must harvest the crop, thresh it in the case of grain, shuck it in the case of corn or dig it up in the case of root crops. Have we had a meal yet? No. Now we have to grind the grain into flour; even the corn if you like tacos, and then store it for the winter someplace where varmints won’t eat it all. Meanwhile, the hunter gatherers are stocking up on steak sauce and Redi-whip, and strolling by our field pointing and laughing.
You know what else agriculture is responsible for? Carbs.
So shake that guilty feeling, turn that frown upside down and be proud hunter-gatherers. While your neighbors are out there crawling around in the dirt on their hands and knees you can stand tall, grilling steaks, burgers, dogs and even salmon. Tell the neighbor kid to throw some grass seed in that unused garden plot and then mow the heck out of it. Idlers of the world, unite!
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