There is a feeling here of being on the periphery of humanity. If the
news is to be believed, the masses of humanity are concerned with oil
prices, stock markets, elections. Urban concerns brought on by so
many people living shoulder to shoulder. Unions, parties. Nations,
borders, waves of migration and the blocks against that tide.
Those things don’t touch us except in a few ways – the price of
propane and gas, worries about Trump and the tenor of political
We are concerned about the human sphere, but we are peripheral to it.
Perhaps I should say the ‘civilized’ sphere. We enter it when we
go to town, when we buy groceries and gas. We enter it when we use
Facebook and Google. We are steadily working out of that frame of
reference here, where life is centered on soil, vegetables, chickens,
dogs, hawks, herons and turkeys, mountains, pines and firs, snow,
rain and sun, rivers and ponds, frogs and skunks. The personal,
individual relationships, human and non.
It’s a matter of recognition, that we were always in this greater
sphere of the Earth, of living matter. There is no way to leave it.
The civilized sphere (human culture centered on cities) in that frame
seems impossibly small, both in space and time. In this Venn diagram,
the sphere of living matter is huge, the civilized sphere is
somewhere inside it, no part of it outside the larger circle, and so
small as to be invisible. In fact, if we want to examine it closely,
we have to zoom in so far that the borders of the outer sphere are
invisible. Then the civilized circle seems to be the only one.
Simple by discussing the fact that civilization has borders, that
life is viable outside it, puts one on its periphery, relating to it,
but with one foot outside it. Working to grow food on a personal
scale, small enough to have some measure of a relationship with each
plant, each patch of ground, puts one on the periphery.