astranemus: Mowing with a scythe shuts down the jabbering brain for a little while, or at least the…


Mowing with a scythe shuts down the jabbering brain for a little while, or at least the rational part of it, leaving only the primitive part, the intuitive reptile consciousness, working fully. Using a scythe properly is a meditation: your body in tune with the tool, your tool in tune with the land. You concentrate without thinking, you follow the lay of the ground with the face of your blade, you are aware of the keenness of its edge, you can hear the birds, see things moving through the grass ahead of you. Everything is connected to everything else, and if it isn’t, it doesn’t work. Your blade tip jams into the ground, you blunt the edge on a molehill you didn’t notice, you pull a muscle in your back, you slice your finger as you’re honing. Focus—relaxed focus—is the key to mowing well. Tolstoy, who obviously wrote from experience, explained it in Anna Karenina:

The longer Levin went on mowing, the oftener he experienced those moments of oblivion when his arms no longer seemed to swing the scythe, but the scythe itself his whole body, so conscious and full of life; and as if by magic, regularly and definitely without a thought being given to it, the work accomplished itself of its own accord. These were blessed moments.

Paul Kingsnorth, Dark Ecology in Orion Magazine

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Tags: dark mountain, twice now, i had a realization like this, except also very much not like this, i've started volunteering for carpinteria beautiful, we get a dayglo vest and a cap, and a grabby thing to pick up trash without actually having to handle it, and I've done my chunk of street, (carp ave between reynolds and franklin creek), and it's actually fun and v. relaxing, once I got over feeling self-conscious, because I'm walking along a busy street in a dayglo vest, picking up trash, , but no really passing cars, i'm just volunteering, and two things became clear very quickly:, 1) it's a lot like pokemon and bird-watching, because it's an excuse to be out there and walking around and noticing little things, it's v. much a hunting+finding+catching activity, just with cigarette butts instead of warblers or pidgeys and rattattas, and 2) you may or may not know, that I watched a lot of tv as a kid, and one of the shows I watched a lot was the odd couple, the one with jack klugman and tony randall doing the mathau and lemon roles, and I hadn't thought of it in forever, but now every time I pick up a cigarette butt, I hear the theme song in my head, b/c of that shot in the title sequence, when felix spears oscar's cigar butt and holds it up to him.

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