boom, bust and the dark winter

Ken writes:

From the Irish Times:

While we complain about how tough times are now, things are still an awful lot better for most of us than at any point during the 100 years documented in Cold Meat . Could we cope with the deprivations of the war years or before? “We’d find it a shock, certainly,” Davies says. “I think we would cope again. There is something in the human nature that likes deprivation. People can’t sew or darn or put on a button . . . It would be hard, but I think people would cope.”

Do we like a bit of deprivation? We like talking about it. Remember the Monty Python sketch (“we were raised in hole int road”). But I think we like it too (secretly).

But who’s ‘we’? I wonder if it is human nature so much as extreme latitude dweller nature. Extreme latitudes induce a seasonality to the year, which, if you think about it, consists of regular periods of deprivation and plenty or boom and bust. And we like proper seasons. They provide variety.

I personally like winter with its cold and frost. It kills off all the annoying flies. When we lived in Scotland, one thing that really struck me was how at home I felt weatherwise. I never realised, growing up in the North Island of New Zealand, what I’d been missing. It was a “where’ve you been all my life!” experience.

The current age of globalisation has had the effect of providing a season of perpetual tropical summer–at least as far as what we eat is concerned, since we can buy fresh fruit and vegetables imported from anywhere on earth and without noticeable difference in price, whenever we want them. I doubt if many people actually know when fruit are really in season where they live.

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2 thoughts on “boom, bust and the dark winter

  1. I like easy living all year round. Too hot in summer to do much of anything, but what you have to do, you do it anyway, even though you’re hot. Just enough cold in winter to make it snap a bit. And spring and summer, perfect and mild, great to be alive and most of the work comes due then anyway. But then I’m a transplant to the world’s high latitudes, and not a perfectly content one, either.

  2. Helen Conrad-O'Briain

    What do I miss of the eastern mid-west?
    1. Snow – proper school-isn’t-called-off-until-there’s-two-feet-and-its-drifting snow.
    2. Electrical storms: Thursday morning’s display would have rated about a 5.2 on a scale of 10.
    3. The occasional bear sighting.
    4. The ability to grow enough tomatoes, courgettes, peppers, and green beans to feed far more people than you know without doing much of anything.
    5. Buckets and buckets of blackberries in late July.
    Three of these things, however, would mean losing one of the things I like best about Ireland – summer without the heat.

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