My Grandfather lived through the Great Depression, in a time when there was no welfare, no government assistance programs. Those entitlements came later. For his generation, you just somehow learned to survive. Part of my Grandfather's survival skills included harvesting edibles from the woods. After all, if you knew what you were doing, you just might find dinner. But there were worse things than hunger and unemployment; one wrongly- picked mushroom, like this Aminita we found on the edge of one of our farm roads, has enough poison to kill 200 hundred people. Animals instinctively know that, and thankfully, so does my husband. He learned that from his father, who would have been my grandfather's near contemporary.
Yet another beautiful but deadly mushroom is the red one in the above picture. I do not know its name, and neither did my husband, just that it was a killer mushroom, one his father told him never to touch. In this area, our "neighbors" are multi-generational farmers for whom many of the township roads were recently named. They too know what not to pick, but with farm acreage for sale, it will not be too long before city folk invade the quiet of the country, wanting what we have found. Hopefully, they too will learn what not to touch.
When I reflect on the wisdom of my fathers, I often wonder what happened to the knowledge that was considered so commonplace in their generations. They seemed more connected to the land at a time when rural was still easier to find, and they seemed to know everything about nature and living off the land. They hunted, fished, and fed their families locally long before my generation "re-purposed" the concept. And they knew how to fix things--any and all things. Perhaps that was because they could not afford to buy new, because they did not live in a disposable society. Call it whatever it was, they were smart savvy people, self-sufficient, and just maybe, the greatest generation.
The Greatest Generation