Robin Wall Kimmerer On Scientific And Native American Views Of The Natural World
I prefer to ask what gifts the land offers. Gifts require a giver, a being with agency. Gifts invite reciprocity. Gifts help form relationships. Scientists aren’t comfortable with the word gifts, so we get ecosystem services instead. These terms arise from different worldviews, but both recognize the way the land sustains life.
I don’t remember feeling fear, only exhilaration and gratitude, like in my dreams. A feeling of ah. The sky was brilliant blue, cloudless. The balloon was yellow. We rose and rose until the pilot turned off the burner, and then it was quiet except for our voices, the creaking basket, and an occasional whoosh of air against nylon. From five thousand feet, everything on the ground seemed small, forgivable.
The man who owned the dairy farm on which the Fair was held was named Max Yasgur. He was born in New York City to Jewish immigrants from Russia. He owned 650 cows. He was forty-nine years old. When he saw how many people had shown up, he instructed his children to give away all the milk and dairy products on the farm to help feed the crowd.
There are some things I take for granted: that when my car is serviced, the air in my tires will be checked; that when I buy free-range chicken, the bird was running happily in the grass right up to the moment the ax fell; and that when I go to my doctor with excruciating abdominal pain, she will, without prompting, examine my abdomen.
In our culture, when you have a medical problem, you visit a doctor, who writes you a prescription; then you drive to a pharmacy and pay thirty-two dollars for a medication. There are few surprises or slip-ups. But if you decide to single-handedly reconnect with a lost ancient lineage of herbal wisdom, you may end up with a short spear of garlic bearing down on your eardrum.
My mother regularly told me, Heather, if you are ever in danger and I’m not there, make your way to a house with flowers. The flowers show they care and are kind and will help.
It didn’t occur to me until years later that we had not a single bloom in our yard.