Walking Backward. From The Road.

Think back to when you were a child, it’s Christmas Eve, and your eyes scan the packages under the tree. “Not before 7 am!”  The hands on the clock are stuck in some alien, viscous slurry.

Now, place yourself at the gates of Epcot, the opening day of the International Food & Wine Festival. It’s 7:45 a.m., the gates open at 8 a.m. Throngs of tourists mingle anxiously. Selfies. Smartphones. Strollers. And, Scooters, so many scooters, for the less mobile. (And I’m being kind here.)

There was the new ride  Soarin‘.  Warnings: Motion sickness? Fear of Heights? I look left and right and find no one but me griping the armrests. When did you get so fearful? So timid? Then there was The Seas and the Bomouth Guitarfish, a scary looking cross between Shark and Manta Ray. Then Frozen. Then Nemo. Then Living with the Land, a ride through horticulture and aquaculture. This was followed by a one-hour guided tour called Behind the Seeds. Hydroponics, a subset of hydroculture, a method of growing plants without soil using mineral nutrient solutions in a water solvent. And Aeroponics, the process of growing plants in air or mist without the use of soil.

It is here that the tour seems to hit bone. We are walking through four greenhouses. Plants spinning on mechanical pulleys. And, plants growing in white sand, being fed nutrient drips. And fish, in tanks – sturgeon, bass, catfish, tilapia. Circling round and round, being fed on the clock.

This World, sterile, Man-Manufactured. No insects. No birds. No dark, rich soil.

A Sci-Fi bubble world.

We trailed a young family from Alabama. Young boy, wide-eyed, with chubby cheeks. His Mother, holds his brother, an infant. Will this little boy, or his son be living in this bubble world? Climate change. Sharks fished to extinction for their fins. Tusks sold by poachers. Big cats slaughtered for their skins. Seas filled with plastic. Deforestation continuing until we flatten our earth.

His life, their lives, increasingly constructed on screens. Wildlife, what’s left of it, is in cages and on video. Food is grown in greenhouses and tanks. Air so polluted, you need to wear masks. Water so dirty, you can only swim in pools, and drink from bottles. It’s a Cormac McCarthy post-apocalyptic journey on The Road, grey skies, no clean water, ash filled earth and air.

The greenhouses are climate controlled. They are covered in hard clear plastic, letting in light, but little else.  It was early afternoon, the sunlight faded, the skies darkened, the rain first pitter-pattered on the plastic roof, and then hammered when the skies opened. It was here, then, now, that I had this unbearable yearning to be let out, to let the rain fall on me, to let it soak through to my skin.

Disney’s slogan: “Where Dreams Come True.” 

We approached the last green house, I found myself edging towards claustrophobia.

Get me out of here. Please.


  1. This is a great piece Dave. “Get me out of here” hits home on many levels.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Life is still good. Rain falling on my head and soaking wet. I watch the sky and smell the wetness from ground. My senses are working and I am still a human. God l please call me before this earth becomes alien to me. I enjoy technology but not to that extent…

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes!

      Liked by 1 person

    • And your comment reminds me of:

      Think of it: all that speech pouring down, selling nothing, judging nobody, drenching the thick mulch of dead leaves, soaking the trees, filling the gullies and crannies of the wood with water. What a thing to sit absolutely alone, in the forest, at night, cherished by this wonderful, unintelligible, perfectly innocent speech, the talk that rain makes by itself all over the ridges, and the talk of the watercourses everywhere in the hollows! Nobody started it, nobody is going to stop it. It will talk as long as it wants, this rain. As long as it talks I am going to listen.

      – Thomas Merton, from “Rain and the Rhinoceros” in Raids on the Unspeakable (New Directions Publishing, 1966)

      Liked by 5 people

  3. I am so with you on this, David. I’m all for innovation and stuff but cannot help but think of Wall-E… no real life on our Earth so we up and live in a major bubble in the sky. Gimme rain, gimme earth, gimme the stink of manure!

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  4. Terrifying

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What an apocalyptic experience. Couldn’t do it…. I thought of hors-sol production today when I bought a trio of peppers, a red, green and yellow one, grown in the Netherlands – bought ‘just’ for me grilling them with onions and garlic, the little cubes to be added to a patato salad, to give it some extra colour and ‘mpf’…. I’m totally agreeing with you and it’s going to give me nightmares tonight, thanks ;(
    We also had rain and thunder and lightnings in large quantities for the first time in about 3 months this week and I felt like running out in the deluge, getting soaked and kneeling in thankfulness on the parched ground to THANK for this gift!

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  6. Scares the hell out of me

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Read this after sitting outside for a bit this morning while the dogs took care of their morning ablutions. Birds twittering softly, a bit of cicada buzz, a soft breeze ruffling the leaves just enough to create a quiet murmur. This, this is heaven, and a powerful antidote to the dystopia you describe…

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  8. I wouldn’t prefer that type of life…bubble living…I type as I sit next to the open window which is screened by pole, string beans, the summer squash below and the blackberries three feet further, the Aspen tree looms above and to the west…soil is life. Our entire back, side and part of the front yard (behind the fence) is a flourishing, life giving garden…tended with love. The mint that grows along the driveway, is flowering and we don’t even know how many different varieties of bees and insects dance above, jockeying for position and on and outward on the draping, side flowers…we stand and watch, in amazement…others passing by have commented on the amazing live teaming on the mint & say how they enjoy the sunflowers…all flowering herbs attract & provide so much energy to this flying world of insects…We have a plum tree in the front yard…driving back and forth to the grocery store we take different routes to see what is growing in the front yards. One street is sprouting many fig trees (in the parking strip) we had a fig tree but one year the ice storm took it,, apple and pear tree are weighted down this year, fruit dropping much going to waste…some people put signs up free plums, others craiglist the fruit while other let the fruit fall for the turkeys and deer to eat and yellow-jackets scavenge the rotting or even the fresh fruit flesh…the neighbors adjunct to the garden live in a two story and behind their siding up in the high peak they have a Wasp nest I live to watch the graceful Wasp come in and out -they fly straight into our garden and fest on flowers, stop and drink water from the large bowl of water for the pup and cats..and I think of bubble living and growing food without soil and I say that there is not the miracle of the living world you find in a garden…the one thing about the hydroponic green house is that light shine upon them, We did the light to shine upon, we need clean water, we need soil and we need trees to filter and give off air…We need life to be flourishing…The Squirrels, Scrub jays, honey bees and other bees are sharing the sunflowers…later after harvest other small migratory birds feed on the tiny bugs that live in the deep voids left by the seeds…Soil is a living miracle, provided by God…the Overly Hot summer has taken such a toll on the animals, the garden and people, the fires continue…and today we will use the bounty of a smaller box of free small apples to make fragrant, delicious apple sauce the first of this season…later we pick from an abandon tree, to supplement what our apple trees produce to make more sauce we checked the tree about four days ago, not ready…last year the tree didn’t produce…think I better go out and do some grazing on the fall strawberries and the sweet and sour blackberries, that contain the flavor of Life, rooted and nourished from the soil…sunshine and water…

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  9. So glad I don’t have to live that way…had difficulty even reading it! Just the earth fragrance of a little rain brings me pleasure. Should share that I’ve been able to be a nature girl recently–have a little plot in our Central Jersey town, and am harvesting okra, greens and Indian gourds (very edible varieties). My Indian friend planted these this year and she’s now in India for several more weeks, so I’m doing my best not to let anything go to waste. But my favorites are the famous Jersey tomatoes…for both cooking and eating plain on sandwiches. Your excerpt makes me appreciate these little bits of simple living.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. [need help…keep losing my posts, and have to re-do] Just wrote about my little plot in our Central Jersey Community Gardens. My Indian friend planted okra, greens, and Indian gourds (very edible ones), and since she’s away for 3 more weeks, I’m doing my best not to waste any of this bounty. Your excerpt makes me appreciate my little opportunity to be a nature girl. And, our Jersey tomatoes ! a heavenly addiction. Well, New Jersey IS called the Garden State.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Similar experience touring the Bio-Sphere outside Tucson years ago. And weirdly this whole summer, “trapped” in my new digs, cut off from nature by its intolerable heat & humidity. But, Winter is Coming, and I dream of walking between trees.

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