The Mad Farmer Liberation Front
quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will
have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions
that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the
leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
carrion -- put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?
Go with your
love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as
the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go.
Be like the
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
The Mad Farmer Liberation Front" from The Country of Marriage,
copyright ® 1973 by Wendell Berry, reprinted by permission
of Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc.
A letter to friends
and family by Tim Colman...
We are in the sea breezy
shower season that converges with the earth's turn
away from summer for good. The autumnal romance with 75 degree
behind us now.
We live in the gray
trough of light and sprinkles that grows big trees,
salmon, and orcas. My daughter and I are going with her class
today to visit a park across town that has a salmon run moving
Big bright red fish
are running upstream now through the first week of
November. Their passage marks this time of year as surely as pumpkins,
witches and goblins.
The salmon come back
each year ( the runs that are left, anyway) and we
witness the sublime mystery of life, death and renewal. This year
bigger run than many have seen in a while.
Why do we connect with
the salmon so?
Perhaps it is a talisman
for us, emblematic of our own eventual return. (And
because when they return, we like to eat them. ;)
Maybe it is recognition
of our own fragile path in the world.
Perhaps we long to
run like the salmon -- and their anadramous return from
the sea to the river that spawned them. Maybe it is witnessing
and flesh ripping effort up rapids, rocks and culverted creeks
just to get
Maybe it is because
we don't know how they swim their thick, battered bodies
to the same cedar-shrouded gravel stream bed their ancestors have
swimming back to for the past 10,000 years.
I like to submerge
into this fall spectacle. I say submerge because for a
few moments I am not "watching" the salmon run. I am
salmon running. I
smell cedar sap, red alder, and yellow birch in fast waters.
I see the bed I was
born in and run hard -- up against time and my own mortality.
I spawn, and as I die,
my eyes glazing, body spent; floating sideways down
stream...I try to imagine the "nothing" that appears
to be death...and
As I emerge from my
salmonic convergence, I drink branch water a friend
makes soaking fresh, sappy red cedar branches in cold Cedar River
water, and laugh about it.
It is a long way, after
all, from home -- to where we are today.
We have the chronological
story to anchor us -- (born in Philly, raised in Detroit, fledged
to Denver, gave birth to family in Seattle...) but there is a
deeper contrapuntal song heard,too, if we listen.
Autumn's darkness pulls
us inward, quieting us, as the gray and damp quiets
the leaf covered earth.
I take comfort in,
and are humbled by this season. In the face of so much
turmoil, chaos, and change around us, I am thankful for the salmon
I take it as an article
of my faith that we will not decode the mystery of the salmon
running home in our lifetimes, and I am grateful for this enduring
Publisher Good Nature Publishing Co.