Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Greening Up

Spring appears to be climbing the mountains. Every morning the green line rises a little higher. Soon the Appalachian Trail above our farm will become a green tunnel and hikers will look forward to overlooks.

Meanwhile, I'm reading In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan (2008), capping three months of immersion in new mortgage regulations with yet another example of the green-ness of power. Pollan writes about how the money in politics turned a simple suggestion -- eat food, but not too much, mostly plants -- into nutrition labels that encouraged people to eat more formulaic prescriptions. Since then, we have obliged by eating more and more. Our society has grown fatter and fatter, just what the producers wanted, eating stuff our ancestors would not have recognized as food. We've been hoodwinked into thinking food "scientists" can mold vitamins, antioxidants, and other molecules into food. The best example of their failure, says Pollan, may be baby formula. The healthiest babies continue to thrive on mother's milk, not bottled chemicals. The nutritionists can't seem to get the formula quite right.

Nor will they any time soon, because whole food is too complicated. Here's a list of the antioxidants (not to mention other things) identified in a leaf of thyme: "alanine, anethole essential oil, apigenin, ascorbic acid, beta-carotene, caffeic acid, camphene, carvacrol, chlorogenic acid, chrysoeriol, derulic acid, eriodictyol, eugenol, 4-terpinol, gallic acid, gamma terpinene, isichlorogenic acid, isoeugenol, isothymonin, kaemferol, labiatic acid, lauric acid, linalyl acetate, luteolin, methionine, myrcene, myristic acid, naringenin, rosmarinic acid, selenium, tannin, thymol, trytophan, ursolic acid, vanillic acid." We don't know how all these things work together, although we know the leaf tastes good. Good luck with those pills some people buy instead of eating green stuff from a garden.

"Ah, come on now," says Virginia. "You're getting carried away. What's your point?"

Okay. For 3 months I've been digesting several thousand pages of materials relating to the mortgage regulations approved by the federal government in January. Yes, mortgage lenders are going to have to make some changes. In many cases, those changes have been watered down by billions of dollars of lobbying efforts. And, in case you haven't noticed, the biggest banks have grown even bigger since 2008.

The greening of America continues. Most of us don't notice and don't care, just as we're "too busy" to watch the green climb the mountains.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


About last night...Opossum Run provided top-notch accompaniment for the world premieres of several new songs. When one of the composers looked into my eyes as she sang, I knew I was in love with her, with good friends, with Arrowhead Lodge, and with my entry into a seventh decade.

Consider state of mind. One of the oldest guys at the party had fallen off a ladder several days earlier while repairing a wooden bridge. He was grateful for soft mud (how soft can mud be?). Minds might wonder that no one declined pot pie because of the rabbit, the gravy, or the gluten (taking a break perhaps?). Almost everyone sang (was it the sweet potato wine?). Every gift was uplifting and constructive -- a pig family portrait for the barn, small farm journals from yesteryear, carefully chosen books, a home-made stringed instrument, chocolate blueberries (no Depends or silly black humor of a 40th birthday). And why?....maybe the old cliche, because the most important day in history is today. The next is tomorrow (one of the things I like most about my best friend is she tries to teach me, by example, not to look back, even though sometimes, lying on my back in pitch darkness, I enjoy doing just that).

"Why wasn't I invited?" says Virginia.

I'm sorry about that. The table only seated ten. She drew a short straw. But she was not forgotten.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Character Development

Dear Sir:

I know that's not you holding the AK-47, considering the size of the man, but I happen to know you took the picture. What were you doing? Shooting at turtles? No, you wouldn't shoot a turtle.
Research, you say? Perhaps you're hoping to add a little spice and conflict to the boring stories no one else gets to read. I kind of like that idea, so long as you don't kill me off.

Sincerely yours,