Community interaction...

Notes from the Garden by Madeleine Wilde

Mark Schreiber makes a most penetrating observation in his essay in the Kyoto Journal 66: "Jiko-chuu behavior manifests itself in many forms, but essentially involves the transference of behavior once confined to one's place of residence into the public domain."

He goes on to explain; "The word is derived from jiko chuushin, meaning self-centered or self-absorbed, but the kanji chuu, meaning center, is replaced by a homonym, meaning insect."

This fascinating article touches on many Jiko-chuu behaviors we all rail about these days, whether it is women putting on their make-up in their cars or on the bus or people "eating on the run," or the ubiquitous cup of coffee being clutched by the masses.

I particularly liked his reference to the controversy sparked by Masataka Nobuo's book "Monkeys with Cell Phones." The author is a professor of Primatology at Kyoto University. He argues that the Jiko-chuu behavior of constantly exchanging messages is analogous to the way monkeys constantly chatter in order to confirm that others are nearby.

"I may be criticized for likening the behavior of humans with monkeys," he writes. "But from my years of research into primates, I'm convinced: the proliferation of information technology is causing humans to behave in ways that resemble apes."

This is good stuff! Especially when it helps to confirm one's own feelings that the massesplugged into only their worlds are similar to ants crawling in line or spiders scooting along a surface. You can put your finger in their way but they just bump and then go on their own way, right around the offending interruption.

I wrote the above paragraphs a few years ago and they still seem to be relevant! So this just proves that one can continuously rail on about the lack of community interaction. My husband and I take our daily walks at different hours of the day, but eventually we compare our walking totals. The numbers tumble out daily: 5 out of 8, 3 out of 9, 7 out of 8, 2 out of 5, or on a frustrating day 1 out of 7. These numbers reflect the cordial exchange of greetings from passersby.

I try to make eye contact before I sing out a "G'morning" salutation for I know there are times when I want to be totally enclosed in my place. Sadly, however, there are many, many walkers who simply do not want to engage on any level. So the above numbers reflect the count of the passersby and the number who were willing to acknowledge another person. Again, one can focus on the negative, or celebrate the warm wide smiles of those who return your greeting or beat you to the punch and greet first!

Other news to celebrate is the re-opening of the IceBox Grocery and Delicatessen on 10th Avenue West near the corner of West Howe Street. The other day I had lunch there and the food was great, the service was cordial and inviting, and I forgot to pay for my second beer. Ooooops. The next day I took some of my containers and some cash. Apologizing profusely while they nonchalantly insisted that it was no big deal, we settled up the beer tab. Then I asked them to fill my containers with an assortment of their deli salads. In our front garden later that evening we had a fine cold supper on a hot, hot evening while the sprinklers lazily washed back and forth.

Taking the containers with me to the deli got me to thinking about all the take-out meals we now consume on a fairly regular basis. These meals come in packaging that should be re-used, but despite our best efforts, the packaging rarely gets re-used. Yes, it takes an employee to fill my containers, a person to have a conversation with, a person to know as the seasons change. In short, a person, rather than a refrigerated display case filled with anonymous packages.

Years ago I visited some friends living in Rome. I was fortunate to have a hair-raising ride on his motorini to the Olio and Vino shop where they refilled his bottles. Is it time to look backward?

Meanwhile our gardens are prolific and needing constant attention to watering and harvesting. Try not to fixate on the green tomatoes![[In-content Ad]]