Funny the way synchronicity works — I’ve been thinking a lot about how skills like learning to knit, or sew, or garden, or cook — skills some of our mothers (or in my case, my grandmother) discounted as being the kinds of skills that keep a girl tied to a domestic existence that stifles other opportunity — are for me a fulfilling way of refusing to cede control of my basic lifeskills to the corporate behemoths that seem to have taken over our lives. If I can sew a skirt, I’m not entirely beholden to clothes made in factories. If I can knit a sweater, I am not entirely beholden to some corporate entity for personal warmth. If I can put up my own pickles, I’m not relying on Clausen any more … none of this negates my existence as a cyber-worker, as a person who bought a new car a couple of years ago, as a person who still shops in stores and is in no way living off the grid. I just like knowing that if I have to, I can take care of some of my basic needs myself.
So this morning I pull up the SF Chronicle (another wonder of technology — I can read five newspapers a day) and Georgeanne Brennan has a really fabulous piece about how traditional pig-butchering celebrations are becoming, if not common, at least less of an anomaly than they once were:
The “day of the pig” also has renewed meaning now, when many people are concerned with the source of their food and with humane treatment of animals. Yes, there would be a slaughter, but it would be done with respect for the animal and the food it provides. Using every part of the animal – or as much as possible – would also show our respect for the life given. We would try not to waste a thing.
There’s a real value to keeping all these older skills alive, and in the case of the DIY crafts movement, to re-inventing them and making them hip and alive again. Skills like these brign us into contact with one another — there’s a reason knitting shops have become centers of community for many women (and some men) around the country. Keeping a garden gives me something to discuss with the folks at the farmer’s market in the summer, and because I produce more than I can eat, sharing food brings me into my community in ways I might not experience if I was simply buying all my food at the supermarket. Industrialized food production has been so successful at divorcing most of us from the animal and vegetable nature of our food that it’s no surprise to me that in much the same manner as the absolute conquest of wild nature caused Americans to go back and re-evaluate their relationship to and how they valued wilderness, that the success of industrial agriculture has spurred many of us to go back and re-evaluate our relationship to our food sources.