This is not really a blog about pickles. It may sometimes contain pickle-related content, mangle pickle metaphors and possibly even chronicle attempts at pickling vegetables . Mostly, though, this blog is about me. Me, thinking like a pickle.*
Over the past two years, I have sought out a variety of transformative experiences, adventures in outdoor education and communal living. At the time, I made a few notes and reflections, but mostly gave myself over to experiencing events as they happened. Focusing on physical sensations like working the soil or navigating socially complex group dynamics was a welcome respite from too much time spent alone in my head.
Immersed in the experience, I was only minimally able to appreciate the changes that were happening to me, in my perspective and self-image. For the cucumber in brine, lactic acid bacteria fermenting away: Are the daily changes in acidity perceptible to a cucumber? After a few weeks of fervent fermentation, the pickle jar solution boasts an entirely new ecology; the process changing the cucumber, preserving it, into a pickle.
In the weeks and months since I’ve left Isabella Freedman (the site of many of these probiotic cultural inoculations), the fermentation of the new ideas and experiences has continued even as I attempt to re-insert myself into the adult, capitalist, thoroughly non-Freedman world. This blog is an experiment, in language and in deed, to examine how the events, ideas and emotional connections formed during my time-out have shaped me and how they will guide me going forward.
*The post’s title is an allusion to Aldo Leopold’s famous piece Thinking Like a Mountain, about the relationship between wolves and deer on maintaining the health of the forest. I hope that by “thinking like a pickle” – a vegetable bubbling in a bath of biotic ferment- I can follow those metaphorical metabolic pathways towards some useful big-picture conclusions.