I recently watched an episode of Planet Green's The Fabulous Beekman Boys that had a big effect on me. The episode was "Bringing Home the Bacon". In addition to Brent spending some quality time with Martha Stewart pushing their Beekman 1802 cheese, the episode focused on Brent and Josh's first experience with having to slaughter their farm animals...their two pigs, Porky and Bess. Needless to say, it was an emotional episode for the boys, the viewers, and yours truly. Having myself grown up on a small farm in Cook, Nebraska until age seven and then returning to the farm each summer until I was 18, the episode took me right back to my own farm days. I had quite a few special pets that ended up on our dinner plates including pigs, chickens, ducks, etc. so understand exactly what they were going through. In addition, there were many avid hunters in my family, bow-hunters for the most part. All this meant that I was very aware of where my food came from and the sacrifice that went into providing...the animals (obviously), as well as the person who had to end the animals life. I did chop off a few chicken heads in my time on the farm and witnessed a few slaughters of pigs, cattle, and game as well.
So what surprised me about the episode was that besides tearing up a lot and missing farm life in general, I also missed that 'circle of life' connection with nature that exists when you live on a farm. The connection to place, the connection to generations of family that were farmers, and the connection to the broader farming community that surrounds farming life. In particular, the connection to place still pulls strongly at me. My Granparents farm where I spent so much time was truly magical and it was because of the particular hills, trees, creeks, roads, etc. that mad the farm what it was. All of these things are like long lost friends to me that when we see each other again, it will be like we never missed a day of being with each other.
This in turn made me realize how removed from nature we all are in the city. Even my friends that are hard core hikers or campers don't quite describe their experiences in nature in the same way...they can observe it, appreciate it's beauty and believe in protecting it, but they still don't quite have that connection that I remember from the farm in Nebraska. I recall a line from Out of Africa by Karen Blixen (aka Isak Dineson) in which she says "If I know a song of Africa...does Africa know a song of me?" I think this describes the feeling of connection I refer to well as it shows that not only has she come to know Africa through her life experiences - good and bad - the place has actually come to know her.
Furthermore, I believe this episode was also profound for me because of this very website where I wax on about the science, design, and culture shaping our future. Much has been written by many people about longing for the good old days and I doubt I could contribute anything new to this discussion. But I wonder how it might be possible to maintain connections to people and place in the future. This is certainly not a new topic either but I very much look forward to exploring it more.