Back to roots, literally and figuratively

arichens - 2019.01.27 - blog /

nature-old-roots-1792626As I sat down to write the “big introductory post” for this new blog, I struggled to come up with what to put down. I’m still not sure what form this blog will take, but I wanted to document this new hobby of mine to become more self-reliant, and a blog seemed like a good format, so that maybe others could learn from the mistakes I will make along the way.

I didn’t really plan to get into the self-reliance movement. I was raised in a relatively small town of about 8,000 people, which was also the largest town for almost 100 miles. Even then, we didn’t grow a garden out of necessity. We had two grocery stores that sold produce, and were never concerned that wouldn’t be enough. I’m not sure why my parents planted a garden every year, but as I grew older my responsibility inevitably grew to include watering and weeding the vegetable patch.

Time passed and I grew up and moved away. I went to school for various engineering-related disciplines, as I had always been fascinated by “how things work.” Eventually I decided on computer engineering, due to the major’s unique combination of engineering, physics, electricity, and software courses, and because I felt that building from a computer engineering background I would have a decent range of job opportunities available to me.

Eventually I wound up working as a process engineer at Micron Technology, inc. in the semiconductor industry. Working in such a cutting-edge field, I got to take part in developing new, innovative technologies that drastically change the human experience. Think of how different the world is today, for example, now that we can make computer storage that doesn’t require large, magnetic hard drives. Mobile phones, digital cameras, and even modern cars would be vastly different or nonexistent without these technological innovations.

However, I also saw what technology does to people. Actually, it’s not technology that is to blame, people do it to themselves. Technology is just a tool, that, like any tool, can be misused. I’ve had a somewhat unique perspective as I’ve watched the millennial generation grow up behind me, and how dependent on/addicted to technology people can be. Perhaps, like me, you’ve noticed at parties, on dates, or even during family gatherings, some people just cannot put down their phones. Even more evident is when a family’s TV and/or internet service goes down. People have forgotten how to entertain themselves, and seem to be pathologically afraid of picking up an actual book. This technological dependence, along with social media addiction, has contributed to the rise of things like flat-earthers, anti-vaxxers, and other societal crises. For the first time in hundreds of years, we are experiencing measles outbreaks in the US and UK. I could go on and on about the dumbing down of society, but I digress.

Anyway, I suppose with all the craziness going on in the world, and with me now living in the large (to me) Salt Lake metro area of 1.5 million people, I started looking for something more tangible in my life, something meaningful. I started feeling out of place in the city life and started to search for belonging, back to my Scottish roots and to when things were simpler.

It started gradually and the changes were subconscious at first. I traded in my Hybrid for a pickup truck (well, actually I got rear-ended by a woman on her cell phone and decided to buy a truck to replace my totaled car). A few months later, when my bright green sneakers got holes in them, I bought a pair of western boots to replace them. Then, when winter came, instead of wearing the skullcap beanie that I did last year, I got a felt stetson to keep my head warm and dry.

At some point during all of this, I started getting serious about urban gardening. It started with me wondering if I could regrow green onions on the windowsill instead of just throwing away the bulbs. Next came a raspberry bush that I grew on the balcony, along with a tomato plant. Most recently, it’s been growing potatoes in 5gal buckets while I wait for spring to arrive. Gardening is not only very practical, it’s also been very enjoyable for me. The slow pace of gardening creates a story arc connecting one day to the next that would otherwise blend together and become meaningless.

I hope that you enjoy reading about this hobby and my musings on life that will accompany it in the months and years to come.