It has been a long week here at Autonomy Acres. Between the gardens, an unexpected house repair project, excessive heat, work, kids, and all the other glories of urban homesteading, I have been more than tired as of late. The other evening we went to our local library to enjoy a little bit of air conditioning and look for some new books to read. Even though I really haven’t had the time to read much, I have been getting quite a few books recently. A few books by Wendell Berry, a sci-fi book called Metatropolis ( five short stories about cities in the future), A Voice Crying in the Wilderness by Edward Abbey and a few other ones. The surprise of the night came when I picked out a random book for my two kids. It had a great title, The Curious Garden, and the cover art was wonderful. Without even flipping through it, I tossed the book into our canvas library bag and we went to check out. Before going home we walked down to the small lake by the library and watched the baby ducks with their mama swim around. That night as we sat down to read books, we opened The Curious Garden and were blown away. The Curious Garden, written by Peter Brown is not just an awesome kids book, but is also a portrait of the world to come, and in some instances a world that is already here. Liam is a little boy who lives in the shell of an old industrial city, falling apart and abandoned by whatever industry once thrived in this unnamed metropolis.
Although there were no trees or green, growing things in the city, Liam still enjoyed being outside, even when it was raining. One day as he was exploring old railroad tracks, he discovered a small patch of wild flowers, moss, and weeds. The book is the story of Liam and this small curious garden, that with the help of a little boy, keeps getting bigger and bigger. Without giving away everything this little book is about, I’ll just say by the end the city is very green with roof top gardens, flower beds, patches of melons, flowers and fruit trees, and many more gardeners than there were at the start. I find it ironic that a book that was written for children, does such a good job at portraying the world we are starting to enter. At the beginning of the book, it is a dreary, dystopian, Orwellian-looking world. But the spirit of a free little boy changes that and cultivates something beautiful and wonderful. This book paints the picture of most of our modern cities; crumbling infrastructure, unwalkable urban neighborhoods, a reliance on food shipped from thousands of miles away, oil, and a polluted and ugly view. But with a lot of work, and a devotion to turn the situation around, Liam not only inspires change, but also motivates other people to join in the fun. This is one of those books for kids that should actually be required reading for all adults. Through its simplicity, it conveys some of the most progressive and needed ideas for the world today. Pick up a copy of The Curious Garden, read it, and then go join the revolution! Plant a garden, ride your bike more, and get ready for a new world! Cheers!