This trip has contained a lot of firsts for me. My first Portland (reluctant/curiosity driven) maple and bacon doughnut, my first serve of Tex-Mex and now I can say I've had someone greet me at the airport with a handwritten 'ROHAN' sign - another first for me. "Hi I'm Chuck" was my welcome to Kentucky. Wow, way to make a bloke feel welcome. No immediate events straight off the plane for this stopover, which was a beautiful thing. We had a few hours to fill which allowed me a quick visit to an old timer outfitter. I required an extra duffle to cater for all the stuff people where gifting me along the way, my hosts had been extremely generous. The outfitters was a real sneak peak in to genuine Kentucky, and I have to admit it was kinda mega rad. Boots, shirts, jeans, leather just like you'd imagine. I was a pig in poo. I did hold back and only bought the necessities. Two pair of Levi.
The Kentucky visit included a book talk, at a sweet little bookshop where I was able to reach out and chat personally with everyone. That was the best part of the trip, being able to connect with people not just by standing on a stage giving a talk but by meeting with them afterwards, hearing their stories and sharing ideas. There was this one bloke that had driven from Ohio to see me, and he was reasonably young, early twenties I guess, but what was impressive was the way he was thinking, he was thinking about things in a way that a much older person would. There was some young wisdom there, I wonder if it's people like him that are the ones that make significant change in our future. t's definitely not the norm, most people his age seem to be asleep. Most, not all.
I've seen a few of these younger folk coming along to the talks, and I reckon many of them can sense that something in this modern system isn't quite right, and even if they haven't yet figured a solution, they are at least thinking about it. Those that I have met seem to be active, often changing elements in their daily lives along the lines of growing their own, supporting the community of growers, farmers and living local. In some cities it seems like it's hip or a trend towards this lifestyle without actually living it, it's more an external facade, but some people can see that it's an inevitably, it's the norm for the future. Some people are living it. I can respect that. I like the no bullshit.
We had dinner at rad venue called Harvest, where they take the local deal pretty seriously and they nail it perfectly. It's often the restaurants that drive change in our food culture, and Harvest is doing just that. I particularly liked the map on the wall with pins in it showing where the farms are that supply the restaurant. It's the future dudes. No doubt about it.
Chuck took good care of me on my short stay in Louisville, and unbeknownst to both of us we share a common love of wild birds. As soon as Chuck got wind of this fact, he took me out for some bird observing. Early on my departure day after our hearty breakfast we set off to a reserve to spot some of his favourite native birds. One of the best breakfasts on the trip so far.....thanks Lars xoxo. Nothing bets a home cooked feed.
Now let me explain that birds in Australia and America are totally different. For example, I'd never seen a Cardinal before, or a Yellow Winged Black Bird or even Canadian Geese, they just don't exist in Australia. These may seem commonplace in some parts of America, but are totally new and exciting for an Aussie like me. Especially when I spotted a Cardinal. It's a sweet bird, it holds a special place in my heart.
We walked the perimeter of the lake, spotting birds and squirrel alike. The path meandered through pretty forest, with the path sometimes engulfed by the dense green foliage of trees and then would open up with peaceful lake vistas, banked by fields of wild flowers. The bird observer in me took hold. I was in bird paradise. Yes I'm a bird nerd. I love nature, so sue me.
I guess there's a reason why I live the life I do. The idea is that if I can grow a lot of my own food or take what nature provides then I'd have less less impact on the environment. Well it's surely a reduction of impact anyway. And let me make it clear that I know I'm not perfect, everything we do has some impact, but I do what is possible. I love those fields of flowers, those healthy rivers - the gorgeous bird's life. When I do walks like I did in Kentucky I'm refreshed.
I'm reminded of why I've made these choices in life when, over a meal recently the conversation hit a deadly topic, poisoned fish in a nearby river. You can catch them but no one eats them, the flesh has turned black, it's no longer safe to eat. I'm sure I read about that in 1970's National Geographic's, but it's now 2013. What do we need to drive more serious change? When the health of a river is get so bad that the fish are no longer safe to eat, shouldn't that be time to make changes in our community? What will make us think about our impact on the natural world on a much larger scale? There is evidence of pollution from China that ends up in Oregon and even further east in Maine. Thats pretty bad right? Don't you think that would be a catalyst for us to make change? I certainly do.