The dogs and I observed the bookends of the overnight shift into the autumn equinox, walking the beach beneath the fiery clouds of sunset, walking the road beneath the thin moon and shiny stars of pre-dawn. Despite what the calendar says, all the signs of fall were already in evidence: cooler nights, north swells, shortening days, golden slanted light.
I fluffed up the remaining empty garden bed and planted green beans, tat soi, more arugula, and before the day ends, I will press seeds collected from especially tasty kabocha and sunrise papaya into tiny pots for later transplanting. Soon, I will start digging again, preparing new beds, hoping for abundance, yet always aware that harvest depends on the vagaries of nature.
Hopes of material abundance are starting to diminish, at least for all but the upper echelon, as the U.S. and other Western nations face the reality of a prolonged economic downturn.
I was talking to Sen. Ron Kouchi at the monk seal hearing last week, and he spoke of the budgetary challenges facing the state Legislature. He said he’d been out chatting with constituents, and one woman asked if things were going to get better, or if it was time to hunker down.
He advised her to hunker down, and told me, “We haven’t even seen the bottom yet.”
Meanwhile, I’ve been hearing reports that many federal entitlement programs, including Section 8 housing subsidies and food stamps, will be facing dramatic cuts — up to 50 percent in some cases — in the years following the presidential election.
What that means is the prospect of more homeless, more hungry, more people living in precarious economic conditions.
At the hearing, I heard numerous fishermen, worried about the future of subsistence fishing at a time when they might need it more than ever, object to possible increased competition from monk seals brought down from the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
More than a few uttered some variation on the theme of “I’m sick of people from other countries and other nationalities telling me what do in my own country.”
It’s a sentiment I’ve heard expressed often, and I wondered if the often uneasy relations between locals and everyone who wasn’t born here will be further strained by rough economic times.
As the saying goes, “high water covers the snags…”
I mention this not to create fear or worry, but to encourage us to start thinking of how we might assume more responsibility for ourselves, and others. How can we take care of those less fortunate, when the government gravy train slows or stops running? How can we become more self-sufficient, more self-reliant? How can we help facilitate the transition from rampant exploitation to sustainable harvest, with the same ease that summer shifts into fall?