Archive for December, 2021

Humbug Adjustment

I could find no photograph of a humble pie.

I have received some constructive comments about my Humbug Santa blog post. Clearly I am guilty of “ableism.” At this moment in my life I am in good health and retired. That means I can physically rake, shovel and split wood, and have the time to do so. I certainly did not want to offend any readers who for one reason or another are unable do these tasks. My list was just that, “my list. ” These were items that do not necessarily inspire me.

After a big snowfall, I am exceedingly grateful when my neighbor swings down my driveway with his plow and cleans us out. I’m no fool when it comes to accepting the generous gift of helping out.

And I have been thinking of the no tattoo request. I recognize they are an art form and many, including my daughter’s tattoo, are beautiful. Years ago, after a High Arctic canoe trip, I had the opportunity to visit with some local Inuit people. I have fond memories of a smiling older woman bearing facial tattoos. Like generations before her she did not tattoo herself because it was a fad. My reasoning for “no tattoos” failed to take into account cultural mores and norms. At this moment in my life I simply don’t want one.

And please know, if I am at your home and you offer me a cup of espresso coffee, I will take the steaming mug gratefully. I simply don’t want the coffee maker and to be honest I don’t have room for one.

Really all I want for Christmas is to lighten my impact on healthy natural systems. My grandkids’ future depends on it.

My Humbug Santa

The holiday season is here. Our Christmas tree, made from grape vine that Miss Nancy wrapped around a tipi framework of buckthorn, sits on the bay window and is decorated and lit. As usual, a tailless bobwhite quail (my one-and-only attempt at taxidermy over 40 years ago) perches as an avian angel atop the Yule tree.

My oldest grandchild, Eleanor, age 4, shared her interesting Christmas gift list of three items which includes a magnifying glass and a book. How cool is that?? The third item, a pink computer, does not excite me so much.

I don’t have a list of things I want, I have a list of things I absolutely DO NOT want.  Note that the following list is not served up in any order. And while this list was quickly thought up, I am sure I could add more.

If anything, I would request more good cheer for all humanity. I would ask Santa to back off on his full gift sack theme and instead preach that more stuff means an increased strain on the free natural systems that allow us to enjoy the holidays. You know, the systems that control floods, create healthy soils, give us clean water and air, and absorb human-caused carbon from the sky.

Last night we had our first ever Minnesota December tornado and I am fairly confident it is tied to human propensity to add more carbon into the sky. So by creating more stuff, like plastics and synthetic schlock, we tarnish the priceless gifts of the natural world.

I would have to fake a smile and hide my shudder if I got one of these items:

1)  Espresso Machine

It’s noisy, Has zero ambience. I would take a cowboy coffee made over a campfire any day. Yes, any day, and that includes a sub-zero setting.

2. Tattoo

While some can be quite artistic I can’t think of any reason at all to have one of these. I have no need to draw attention to myself. And tattoos seem too much like a fad and I’m not a fad kind of guy. And while I have a reasonably high threshold of pain, why subject myself to more when I don’t have to?  

3 Leaf blower

This is one invention that folks have really drunk the kool-aid over. Again the noise is abhorrent. Give me a rake anyday. No noise, powered only by my muscles. Consequently a rake fulfills a task while keeping me away from any health clubs. Which brings up my next “don’t gift me” item.

4. Snow blower

Egads another machine with its diet of gas, oil or electricity. Sure it can clean up a blizzard but in doing so it assaults my hearing and sense of smell. And like the leaf blower, it robs me of a physical workout. A snow shovel stores easily on the wall of the garage instead of taking up half a stall.

Last week it took me an hour and a half to push the fresh snow off our long driveway, but I got to breathe deeply of fresh air and fully earned a hearty lunch and relaxing read in front of the kitchen fire.

5. Membership to a health club

It would trouble me to go out, start a car and drive to a workout gym. I can walk, jog, ski  or ride a bike from my own house and then, on the same day, cut, split and wheelbarrow firewood. I prefer to live a lifestyle in which I use my muscles and stay fit.

6. Harley Davidson Motorcycle

While any motorcycle would make me unhappy, a Harley would be horrific. My hearing is already compromised and why offend others with this noisy assault? It’s offensive to fine pork to call this two-wheeled noise fest a “hog.”

I could emulate a good friend who bought his first Harley after a lifetime of owning motorcycles labelled  Honda, BMW, Triumph and Indian. He ordered his “hog” with a muffler. He wanted the Harley but he hated the noise. The dealer looked at him as if he was confronting an alien. I respect that.

But as I consider shunning a Harley I could always take an electric one (yes, they do make them) and then I could sell it and use the money to get a real bike: a full-suspension carbon frame mountain bike.

7. Boat and motor

I’m a canoeist. I paddle, not motor. The canoe is quieter than the boat and motor. Four stroke engine or not, it makes noise, requires a trailer, fuel and maintenance.  The only boat I might consider, and that’s a big “might” would be a john boat and moderate motor to use for fishing on the St. Croix River.

 8.  ATV 

There is a pattern here. I really try to stay clear of noisy machines that require fuel, oil and maintenance. I cringe at the idea of even owning one. Perhaps as I age I will need one to clean snow off the driveway, haul firewood or pull in a hunted deer, but for now a rousing “no thanks.” And if I do submit, I’m hoping I can get an electric option.

I prefer receiving and giving shared experiences. And best of all if they include wild lands, a campfire and a starlit night.

So Santa, pay attention!

I hope all of you readers have a safe, healthy and memorable Holidays!