For the last two months of his Summer vacation, G/Son was traveling. He was in camps, was off to visit his other grandparents, went off to the beach with his ‘rents, etc. And then he was home and busy getting uniforms and school supplies, and starting Second Grade (I know! WTF?!?! I have NO IDEA how that happened so fast and I’m not entirely sanguine about it, let me tell you.) So today was our first day to get together in about as long a time as we’ve ever been apart.
But we picked back up as if we’d seen each other yesterday. When I walked through the door of his house, he was hiding behind the steps and waving one of his Summer acquisitions, a wooden crocodile that wanted to “bite” me so that we could talk about crocodiles. And, on the way to our annual visit to the RenFaire, he read to me from the library book that he checked out from the school library. When we sat down in the lovely Autumn sunshine to eat lunch (shrimp, oysters, & clams), he told me about all the fishing that he did this Summer.
Ancient little Pisces that he is, G/Son has always had an interest in fishing and, this Summer, hanging out on the Jersey Shore and along a river bank in Southern Virginia, he managed to get both of his grandfathers to take him fishing — a lot. I’d seen some pictures on Facebook and heard from his ‘rents about the fishing, but I loved getting to hear about it from G/Son, himself.
(Interestingly, one of the movies that I’d watched this Summer on Netflix was A River Runs Through It, which is ostensibly about fly fishing but is mostly about how men love each other in spite of Patriarchy, and it made me remember how my own dad loved going trout fishing in the Rocky Mountains more than he loved almost anything. It’s as if being alone out in nature were important to men.)
One thing that G/Son was really interested in telling me was that, one Summer night on the Jersey Shore, he caught enough fish (and they were big enough not to have to throw back) that he provided the dinner for his grandads, his dad, and himself.
He had that pride that we all take in being able to put, to use Atrios‘ words, “food on our famibly.” There’s this thing, this amazing feeling, that we get when we look around a table at the people we love and know that they are being fed by our labor.
What I started to say to G/Son was that, if he learned how to fish, no matter what else happened, he would be (child of the Potomac and the Chesapeake) able to feed himself and his family. I wanted to encourage him, to show him that I understood the importance of what he’d spent the Summer learning.
But my words froze in my throat.
All that I could think was that G/Son’s generation is likely to be the last to be able to find dinner in our over-fished oceans. All that I could think was how Fukishama will likely either kill all the fish in the oceans or render them inedible for G/Son’s children. All that I could think was Derrick Jensen, saying that:
If civilization lasts another one or two hundred years, will the people then say of us, ‘Why did they not take it down?’ Will they be as furious with us as I am with those who came before and stood by? I could very well hear those people who come after saying, “If they had taken it down, we would still have earthworms to feed the soil. We would have redwoods, and we would have oaks in California. We would still have frogs. We would still have other amphibians. I am starving because there are no salmon in the river, and you allowed the salmon to be killed so rich people could have cheap electricity for aluminum smelters. God damn you. God damn you all.
In many ways, I find being a Nonna a way to connect with my ancestresses. And, yet, being a Nonna on a dying planet is different. I think that what I need to say to G/Son is that fishing is important, throwing back small fish is important, being out by the Water is important, and knowing when to step away and find food elsewhere is important, too.
It doesn’t make me happy. It just makes me alive, right now. It just makes me the priestess of THIS Earth, no matter how much I’d like to be the priestess of some time a long time ago.