The evening news last night noted that it is Girl Scout cookie season again. And sales have fallen. No surprise there. We used to buy a dozen boxes each. Couldn't avoid it since several of the grand-nieces (Mom's great-granddaughters) have passed through the ranks from Brownie on. But we cut back a few years ago. Partly, we simply couldn't keep up. Partly, we simply did not like the flavor of the newly formulated cookies (you know--making them heart healthy, etc.) And partly, we noticed that the packages were shrinking. Too bad. I remember selling the cookies when I way a girl.
In the same story, the reporter noted that one of the products showing a surge in sales is---vegetable seeds. I can well understand why. Given the numbers of unemployed (or underemployed) many people have more time than money and gardening is a good way to boost your diet and get some healthy exercise. This another area, of so many, where I feel like the proverbial canary in the coal mine. Our tomatoes were moderately successful last year in spite of growing in pots that were way too small for them. This year we have much larger containers and peppers will be joining the tomatoes (and a few other things also.) We will spend, maybe, $80 on soil and seeds this year. But, at the cost of tomatoes and peppers in the market even in season, we will come out ahead. And they will taste much better. We are rediscovering the joys of anticipation.
Crooks and Liars has an entry today that goes along with the theme. We have been hearing similar stories on the news since just before Christmas. The food banks are straining to meet the demand from those who once had good jobs and now are unemployed or have had their working hours cut drastically. People who once donated to the food banks are now patrons. At the end of the story there was this little comment that hit a nerve: "Now, I know some of you are going to say they make enough money to live and they're just trying to scrounge off the system. But that's unlikely: How many working people want to stand in line at a food bank? People are usually ashamed of needing help. Things are so bad right now for so many of us. Try to have some compassion - it could be you."
Why does that strike a nerve, you might ask? Because the author refers to a phenomenon I have had a long acquaintance with. I experience it every time I get into a political debate with some of my male relatives. They counter any suggestion that changes should be made that would make our system more responsive to people who can't provide their own health care (or whose employers can't or won't provide it); or who have been unemployed long enough to have exhausted their benefits, or (insert your own pet area of distress.) My male relatives always rely on two arguments. First, as above, "those people" are simply trying to scam the system and get a free ride. Second, it is unfair to others, like themselves, who 'have done the right thing' and provided for themselves and their families. This notion has a long history in American political thought. It goes back to the Victorian notion of the 'deserving poor.' You see it in the emphasis placed on 'welfare queens' during the Reagan and Clinton 'reforms' of welfare. Take a look at some of the arguments for 'reforming' Social Security. One of my young male relatives always adds his own conviction that he will never see a dime of the money he is paying into the system to as another justification for doing away with it. At the bottom of all of these arguments is a lamentable and regrettable---selfishness.
Karen Banfield at Well Met posted this today. At first I simply read it and passed by. But then I went back and decided to link to it. The message is one we all need every now and then: 'feed yourself beauty.' It is all too easy to succumb to the bleakness and gray of our lives. They say 'you are what you eat.' We should follow the same rule when feeding our souls.
On that note it is time to feed both body and soul.