Wednesday, May 4

Human Power: The Cure for What Ails Us

The full title for this blog used to be "From the Pavement's Edge: Human Powered Transportation." I went back to "Taking the Lane" because there is a deeper meaning in that statement for me beyond cycling. I think in life we have to take the lane. Excelling in life comes about by staying in the stream of things and not on the fringe.

But back to "Human Powered Transportation" and my long held philosophy that human power is superior to other sources of energy: I have always loathed four-wheelers, jet skis, gas powered lawn mowers and engines in general. As I've discovered more about my own wiring I realize a lot of that has to do with said wiring, but I also have regarded such conveyances with disdain because they lack any kind of purity of movement. They add complexity to an overly complex world. I've discovered that what I really want out of life is simplicity. I will probably never attain the simplicity I desire, short of living into the Post Carbon Apocalypse, but I'm going to make an attempt.

There is no satisfaction in attaining a destination by use of a motor. But knowing you crossed a great gulf of open space using only your body, or attaining great heights with just the power in your own limbs is a greatly satisfying and pure feeling. Nothing surpasses that accomplishment.

So what does this have to do with the price of tea in China? Nothing. Buy your tea from local sources.

On Saturday Mandy and I were discussing our garden. At the time there was no garden, only the idea of a garden inhabiting our future at some point. Mandy made the statement that we needed to borrow or rent a roto-tiller. Now, I've been struggling with the prospect of doing keyhole gardens instead of a traditional backyard tilled garden. But I realize I've probably waited too long this year to get going on it. We don't have the resources to pull together to build them and to build the soil properly, nor do we have the capital to dedicate to the endeavor. So for this year we are going to go with a rectangular format.

As we sat discussing the matter the thought began to grow in my head that we might not need a roto-tiller. I wandered up out of the recliner, put on my shoes, slipped on a long sleeved shirt and walked with increasing purpose out the shed to retrieve the mattocks. Within five minutes of the roto-tiller statement I was hacking up a 10 X 15 section of the yard. Mandy joined me a few minutes later and without saying a word started turning earth with the shovel.

In less than an hour we had a 10 X 15 plot turned with compost worked in (and we had some help). I don’t know if we did it correctly, but we did it. And now the hard part begins.

As we strive toward resilience it is these type of activities that shape my outlook and my world view. Its not just about the bikes. The bikes are a major component only because transportation is a major component of our modern lifestyles. But the garden, buying locally, the cutting back of resource consumption…these things are truly the important things for us to engage in. The mindset is pervasive and continually invading new compartments of our lives.

It is an adventure every day. My commute had become mundane, and when the prospect of including my four year old daughter in the mix arose I embraced it fully. Three days we've commuted together on the Xtracycle. Three days I've had a great companion and a great experience. She sings the first verse "Blue Skies and Rainbows" over the roar of traffic as we pedal along the I-70 frontage road. She sings other songs as we cruise through quiet neighborhoods. She cheers me up as we sneak past the schools like beehives, swarmed by soccer moms in SUVs like angry distracted bees. And I'd like to think the pink and yellow bobbing helmet deters the moto-fascist tendencies of my fellow travelers upon the roadways.

No matter what you think about the future of humanity on Planet Earth you cannot deny our dire need to reduce our consumption. More people are being born while our resource base is diminished through our own design. We convert farmland to parking lots and pollute whatever environment we have just so we can continue in "growth."

If the cancer doesn't kill us it will only be because we've effectively started treating it. We must start today. We must start now.

OH!!! Happy Bike Month btw!

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