Today marks the completion of an entire month of rewilding. Many people have asked me questions about the practical aspects of this project, such as: What do you eat? What do you actually do every day? What about toilet paper? etc. So, I have decided to take a break from philosophizing for this post and outline a typical day in my progressively rewilding life.
Since I am eschewing television and other forms of electronic media, my sleep patterns have changed. I typically read for pleasure in the evenings and fall asleep early. I also wake up early feeling well-rested. With rewilding, I have started a series of morning rituals, which include 15-20 minutes of meditation; journaling about the previous day’s experiences and any dreams I remember; and learning about and/or engaging with some form of Indigenous spiritual practice, including ancient European practices that honor the wild world.
Breakfast usually consists of fresh eggs from my Chicken companions in the backyard, cooked with some cultivated or foraged wild greens, such as Nettle, Dead Nettle (pictured), Wild Onion, Chickweed, Spinach, etc. If I am feeling decadent, I enjoy my eggs with a piece of sourdough bread from Hominy Farm, a local bakery that specializes in making baked goods with locally grown and milled grains, slathered in local, grass-fed ghee from Goddess Ghee. If my logs are fruiting, I will add some fresh Mushrooms to the mix, and I also source Mushrooms from the West Asheville Farmers’ Market from Asheville Fungi.
Ideally after breakfast, I settle into a few hours of computer work. I should be working on my dissertation in addition to attending to work-related matters. However, this time of year, Spring is erupting, and I have an almost inexhaustible to-do list of highly seasonally dependent things to attend to outside. Cooler weather crops, such as Cabbage, Broccoli, Spinach, Beets, Carrots, Potatoes, etc., need to be planted now or yesterday. In addition, I have acquired (and continue to acquire) several native bare-root fruit Trees, Shrubs, Herbs, etc. to augment my co-researchers’ contributions to the Land rewilding effort, and these need to go in the ground as soon as they are received. I am working on some hügelkultur beds that I am hoping to plant my summer crops in after Mother’s Day. I need to meaningfully engage with my co-researchers, and I still need to finalize my pre-wilding ecological baseline as soon as the Trees leaf out, allowing me to confirm their identities.
My computer work is falling behind, but I am not stressing about this too much. In accordance with the seasons, I am assuming that I will be able to catch up once the Spring frenzy of activity eases into the less frenetic days of Summer, Fall, and especially Winter. I offer my labor and sweat to the more-than-human world as reciprocity, and the physicality of the outdoor work seems to serve as physical and emotional therapy. My mood seems lighter, and I am slowly gaining strength and endurance. My ageing back and shoulders complain, but my younger friend and helper, Kimberly, stops by about once a week to help out with the physically grueling tasks, and friend and neighbor Mary rescues me with excellent acupuncture and massage therapy when I overdo it.
On market days, I ride my bike to stock up on local produce, trout, humanely raised meats, milk, mushrooms, cheeses, and other delectables that I am currently not growing myself. My community is expanding, and I am supporting and getting to know like-minded humans who are invested in co-creating healthy and wild ecosystems. Foodwise, I am probably eating consistently tastier, healthier, and better than I ever have and for a much lower cost. Although I will miss Olive oil when the last few drops I am savoring are gone, I have otherwise suffered no hardship, pangs, or cravings.
In the afternoons, after I have done all I can mentally or physically for the day, I read, either working my way through the mountain of literature I need to review, or simply enjoying some light fiction. In the early evenings, I take Goober for walks, catch up with neighbors, and/or spend time with my adult children, who stop by regularly to play board games and enjoy a locally grown, mom-cooked meal.
In general, I am feeling less stressed and anxious. Of course, reducing my workload and not having any coursework to worry about undoubtedly contributes to this, but I also am experiencing that having limited consumer choices alleviates a lot of stress. I have stopped worrying about what I have to do to get the things I think I need. Between my farmer friends and the Land, I know I will have enough to eat. Everything else is either unimportant or something I will find a wild solution for. For example, I have started making delicious wild fermented sodas from local honey, flowers, and herbs. Hydrosols, distilled from various plants and coupled with homemade vinegar, serve as excellent and wonderful-smelling cleaning fluids, and endless combinations of teas replace coffee. Because of its incredible environmental impact, toilet paper deserves its own post, but I will say that I am also probably the cleanest person around without it. Who would have guessed that good old-fashioned soap and water works better than dragging the dry, dead carcasses of murdered trees across one’s bottom?
There are caveats to all this rewilding positivity. I am a reclusive introvert by nature, so loneliness and the need to get out of the house and socialize regularly are simply not an issue for me. I derive a satisfactory amount of human interaction from my partner, family, close friends, neighbors, and trips to the market. In fact, I need to do more to engage, particularly with the local Indigenous communities. Furthermore, humans are the only organisms on Earth who limit their own freedom to rewild via the inequitable constructions of capitalism and private property. Everyone should have the access and capacity to make a wild living within a healthy Land community, so I also need to be dedicating more time and energy towards figuring out how to engage in activism to support this natural right for all.
Recipe for wild fermented soda
Ingredients and Equipment
½ gallon mason or other jar
½ gallon filtered spring water (chlorinated water will impede the fermentation process)
Choice of local fresh Herbs, Spices, etc. to fill ½ of the jar (my favorites include combinations of Mountain Mint, Pine needles, Ginger, Hibiscus flowers, Dandelion, and Violet)
¼ to ½ cup local honey according to taste
Sprinkle of champagne yeast or 1/3 cup wild yeast starter
Add everything to the jar. Shake vigorously to mix. Cover with a loosely fitted lid that allows fermentation gasses to escape. Leave on a countertop away from direct sunlight. Tighten the lid to shake a few times per day. Then loosen the lid again. Once fermentation starts you will hear a fizzing noise when you loosen the lid (24 to 48 hours). Filter out the herbs and transfer to clean recycled soda or swing-top bottles. Leave on the countertop and test for carbonation by opening the lids until desired level of carbonation is achieved (no more than 24 hours). Refrigerate and enjoy.
*Throughout this website, I will use capital letters for the names of more-than-humans to signal their personhood.