s Bananas in British Columbia

Alternative Culture MagazineCougar WebWorks Celebrating Nature, Culture, and Spirit
Alternative Culture Magazine

Alternative Culture Blog

Further Adventures of a Rogue Journalist

by Nowick Gray, Editor of Alternative Culture Magazine

journal online


Bananas in British Columbia

My recurrent obsession: humans and nature. Today the focus takes the form of a trip to town: Nelson, B.C., home of some 10,000 relatively sane individuals, in a community growing fast into a: "city"? It's already officially a city. Anyhow, it's my first trip to town in a couple of months and I'm not used to seeing all the types of humanity that live there.

Seeing the old and the crippled, I realize in an instant how they are all doomed in the scenario of the END TIMES!that shout from the grocery checkout line unheeded. Certainly a large proportion of the urban population would be unfit to survive any collapse of the civilized support systems that have evolved on the back of beleaguered Mother Earth. Yet I must also admit at the outset, that young and strong and fit for survival as I personally feel relative to most of these citizens--and despite my feelings of being as a caged animal here in town--I too am one of them, whose only solace is a coffee bar, pen and paper, a good book in out of the rain.

True, the ice cream was nice. After that, I tried the Jacuzzi, the pool and sauna. The whirlpool effect reminded me of what it must have been like in the warm surf of early coastal India, watching the surf dance like ephemeral life around my upraised toes. A mini-revelation. But to what effect? I swam some laps--glorying in the small miracle of water, immersion and flotation and propulsion graceful and smooth. The clear, blue, depths...but a human-made illusion, as outside the gray rain continued in the real world. This manufactured utopia, chlorinated and concrete-bordered, was like but was not the real thing.

Which would I choose if given the choice: the cold clear mountain lake or this body-temperature zoo-pool? The question is moot: I do choose, every moment. For now, no matter how far I milk the town/zoo analogy, I choose somehow to stay within it. But not long.

I quickly move to the sauna, stretch out and bake in the artificial heat. I reflect on my earlier conversation with Sarah, fresh from the chiropractor, praising the benefits of waiting for him there on the sculptured, padded couch, enjoying the refuge from the bustling street. "He should make it available to people, charge them for ten minutes just as a way to relax." Now the sauna seemed to fit the bill.

Again, ten minutes of it is enough--indeed is all that is allowed, for cautionary reasons. So again I move on--red-eyed and only temporarily refreshed--out into the gray afternoon of the city street again, to the bookstore/coffee nook and my present pen. Is this, then, my cave of refuge, my preferred vision of "nature"? Why else am I not out there running down deer?

A postscript: My pen ran out of ink on the last sentence in the coffee nook. Where did that leave me? Reading Wired. An hour later, I reveled in the taste of a banana from the grocery store where the tabloids blared unheard. I loved it. Hey, I was hungry, by then, and our food from home had become old, dry, stale. What an effort it is even to look at these questions. Where does our food come from? Where does money come from? What would I do if...

Anyhow, a few hours after that, all the paradoxes had resolved. I'd been playing drums, in a practice to get ready for the upcoming trance dance. I felt unified, part of nature, in touch with my inner spirit and connected with those I had been playing with--and by extension, all of humanity. We're in this together now, and we need to dig deep to find a way to maintain connection with that buried earth, somewhere down under our feet. The rhythm somehow does it, brings it all home.

--May 1996

© Nowick Gray

journal online


Many of the essays appearing here are collected in convenient e-book format (pdf). Coming Home: Nature and Me and Other Essays is available now for free download.

Right-click to save to your computer: nature.pdf

Rule Reversals (January 2003)

Telling it Like it Is (January 2003)

White Rabbit (February 2002)

On Novelty (February 2002)

An Open Letter to the Democratic Party after September 11 (December 2001)

Psychoactive Sacramentals: Essays on Entheogens and Religion (book review) (November 2001)

Forest Storm (September 2001)

Feminism, Poetic Myth, and Alternative Culture - An Homage to The White Goddess (July 2000)

Quests for Identity and Other Addictions (May 2000)

Wheel of Fortune (April 2000)

Great Writers and Street Poets (February 2000)

Upgrade for Speed Because Time is Running Out? (August 1999)

Retail Therapy: Decision Making in the Computer Age (August 1999)

Retail Therapy2: Random Brief Downtimes (August 1999)

Farouche Speaks (April 1999)

NetGlut: Notes from a cleansing fast (February 1998)

To Unix and Back Alive (January 1997)

Webness (November 1996)

Surfing Again (November 1996)

Bananas in British Columbia (May 1996)

Confessions of a computer addict (May 1996)

About the Editor | Site Map | Homepage | Email | ©2006 Cougar WebWorks