Believe it or not, though I have liked Jethro Tull for many years (and passionately loved their album Songs from the Wood, which has been one of my favorites since late high school / early college days), I just listened seriously to this one, and read the lyrics, for the first time the night before last. Wow! I did not know what I was missing:
Let me find you a filly for your proud stallion seed to keep the old line going. And we’ll stand you abreast at the back of the wood behind the young trees growing To hide you from eyes that mock at your girth, and your eighteen hands at the shoulder And one day when the oil barons have all dripped dry and the nights are seen to draw colder They’ll beg for your strength, your gentle power your noble grace and your bearing And you’ll strain once again to the sound of the gulls in the wake of the deep plough, sharing.
Standing like tanks on the brow of the hill Up into the cold wind facing In stiff battle harness, chained to the world Against the low sun racing Bring me a wheel of oaken wood A rein of polished leather A Heavy Horse and a tumbling sky Brewing heavy weather.
Again, wow. Lifts the hair on the back of my neck! For someone who loves the great draft horses as I do, this is a deeply moving song. Magnificent!
Just as the urban / coastal elite in the US ridicules what was once called “America’s Heartland” as “flyover states,” and conservative, traditional country people as “rednecks” at best, “deplorables” at worst, so the urban elites in the UK disparage countryside people, pastimes, and traditions.
The Countryside Alliance was founded, IIRC, in 2005, in the aftermath of the ban on mounted foxhunting under the Tony Blair administration. As it says of itself on its website,
“The Countryside Alliance is the campaigning organisation that promotes the rural way of life in Parliament, in the media and on the ground. We campaign for the countryside, for rural communities and for hunting and shooting.
“We publicise the economic, social and environmental contribution the countryside makes to the national economy and quality of life.
“Our aim is to promote understanding and acceptance of the rural way of life and activities such as hunting and shooting in a managed landscape, and to protect them from bias, misinformation and over regulation.”
This blog article in Psychology Today traces the top five causes of the epidemic of depression here in the U.S. (and in fact, throughout much of the world). These include:
1. The erosion of traditional social structures and communities. “A gradual disintegration of the social fabric, which has closely paralleled industrial and technological growth, has resulted in greater isolation and loneliness… we have become increasingly disconnected from family, friends, and neighbors. Urbanization and the breakup of the extended family and rural community are leading causes of this social atomization.”
2. Changes in modes of communication. “Following the physical upheaval of urbanization, the world has been swept by a tidal wave of electronic innovation… [The] alarming rise in depression among U.S. youth during the period 2004–2015… coincides with the birth and rapid growth of smartphone usage during the same period. While this does not prove a cause-effect relationship, it would seem to reinforce an urgent need to closely examine the impact of smartphone usage on the communication skills and psychological well-being of young people.”
3. Changes in Diet. “Consumption of processed foods, which mostly contain a serious imbalance of omega fats, large quantities of sugar, and a lack of fermented ingredients, are radically affecting the delicate balance of our gut flora. A landmark comparison between North Africans and North Americans revealed sharp declines in bacterial diversity among the North American group, including genera containing the psychobiotic strains… Is fast food and processed food throwing our microbiome, that is, our internal environment, into chaos in the same way that pollution is destroying the macrobiome?”
[Note: the Weston A. Price Foundation has been saying this since 1999; Dr. Price himself raised the alarm regarding processed foods vs traditional dietary patterns, back in the 1930s and 40s. This is not new information! But it’s finally beginning to be recognized by the mainstream.]
4. The intense competition surrounding education among industrialized nations. “Korea, Japan, China, and to a growing degree, Western nations, are experiencing an exponential rise in youth depression… fierce competition in the academic arena, in which academic success is equated with social and economic “success” by parents, is leading to a loss of personal autonomy and acute stress. Secondary schools are now largely focused on exam-centered curricula… marked by a lack of content related to life skills, social-emotional learning, and wellbeing in general.”
5. The familiar socio-economic suspects, including war and poverty. “Nations strongly affected by conflict and extreme poverty, with an emphasis on extreme, rank relatively high on the depression scale and low in happiness and satisfaction. Nonetheless, the relationship between GDP and depression/happiness rates is by no means linear… Personal freedom and the presence of social networks, two factors inversely correlated to depression mentioned above, are highly related to scores on the Positive Experience Index of the Global Emotions Report.”
Assuming that the above is accurate, and based on my own experience and informal research, I believe it is, what is most interesting in all this to me – aside from a certain degree of grim satisfaction of the “I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so” variety – is that four out of five of these factors are both endemic to, and so far as can be determined, unique to, our modern/postmodern age. Our ancestors had rough lives in many respects – rougher than ours in most – but they do not appear to have suffering from comparable levels of depression… which has spiked in recent years, as recounted in the linked article, and many others.
These contributing factors to the contemporary depression epidemic can therefore (despite the usual disclaimers about correlation not equalling causation) be pretty much laid at the feet of our abandonment of traditional approaches, thoughts, understandings, philosophies, and ways of living and being, in so many areas of life, from foodways to lifeways, from communication to education.
This mindless neophilia, this willingness (even eagerness) to cast aside the traditional, the tried and true, and to eternally chase after the supposedly “new and improved,” which is so characteristic of our present society, is going to kill us – is killing us – if we do not moderate it with a more sensitive and sympathetic appropriation and re-adoption of traditional norms and ways of life.
“It is a tradition that harks back to Victorian times when the family would gather together to stir the Christmas pudding five weeks before Christmas. The opening words of the Book Of Common Prayer, used on the last Sunday before Advent, reads: ‘Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people,’ so the tradition stands that this is the day to get stirring!”
I don’t often do product reviews, still less promotions, and it takes a lot to impress me. But if you, like me, think that most of the yogurts in today’s marketplace are WAY too sweet (and/or have too many artificial ingredients) – or if you are interested in getting in touch with your Norse heritage through your taste-buds, or both – you might want to consider giving siggi’s a try.
Found in the yogurt section (and called “yogurt” in the same way taekwondo is often called “karate”), it is actually Icelandic-style skyr, a close relative to but not identical with yogurt, or (in the case of the drinkable varieties) fil mjolk, also an Icelandic specialty.
“I’m not so naïve to believe that simply by gathering around a front porch and snapping green beans all of the problems of this generation would be erased; however, I believe it would sure be a heck of a great place to start…
Though I make my living writing articles online and sharing posts on social media, I cannot possibly thank God enough that I was born prior to the days rectangular-shaped screens conquered society.”
Amen. I feel the same way.
And I have many good memories of snapping green beans, shelling peas, and shelling lima beans on the big, screened-in porch of my Grandma Reamer’s un-air-conditioned farmhouse in Dennisville, New Jersey. How I do miss those days! And the activities, and – especially – the people who made the memories golden.
Rules restaurant, at 35 Maiden Lane, Convent Garden, London, “serves the traditional food of this country at its best – and at affordable prices. It specialises in classic game cookery, oysters, pies and puddings.” I must confess, their version of “affordable” is not exactly mine (a situation often the case here in the U.S., as well), but I would nonetheless love to go there!
The website notes,
“Rules is a heritage restaurant. There is a demand for the best in life as we are confronted with so much mediocrity. In an age when everyone is deluged with homogeneous brands, we like to create the special. There is a real unfulfilled need and desire to experience it.”