Un-pick-apart-able

Nora Bateson
11 min readNov 6, 2022

First published in Kosmos Journal in 2018

“The nourishment of Cezanne’s awkward apples is in the tenderness and alertness they awaken inside us.”
Jane Hirshfield

A small scratched hand is pulling ripe, red currants from a bush, plucking generational knowing, while the child is chitter-chattering in the warm evening air, gritting the nutty seeds between molars, brushing an ant off a sunburnt elbow. The bucket is full to the brim with berries the neighbors did not want. Tomorrow morning, these berries will go on yogurt.

This piece is not about the importance of eating organic food, local farming, and slow-food recipes. Nor is it about the damage done in the name of consumer culture. I am assuming that, by now, those topics are givens, and that if you are reading this, you have noticed that there is a distinct possibility that no matter how much we recycle and buy organic, there is a good chance that the human species may not make it through the coming climate changes. You may have also noticed that cultural/political fissures may kill us first. You may have children in your life and find yourself longing for a magical time-bridge that would deliver them safely to the other side of the heavy shakedowns of coming years. The instinct to provide a world of future life and love is strong. But is it stronger than the idea that tomorrow will be like today? Ironically, the possibility of continuing generations requires discontinuing current ways of living.

There is salt ahead. Stinging and necessary.

Staving off numbness and the scurvy of disconnectedness.

There are whole grains, fermented ideas, intoxicating and nostalgic.

The past is as lovely as it is deadly. Take small sips.

Add logic and enchantment to taste.

In the everyday gesture of a parent providing breakfast for a child, the entire future of humanity, and of thousands of other organisms, pivots. Like other animals, the human species is tasked with feeding the next generations. Life is dependent upon this seemingly simple mandate of continuance. Feed the babies. Don’t fail.

Bringing a morsel of food to your lips or to the lips of another is an act of intimacy. It is a personal contact point with the seasons and the generations. The tiny act of sharing a meal connects our intestines to the rainfall, and the strength in our muscles to the recipes of grandparents. The weaving of…

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Nora Bateson

Filmmaker, writer, educator, lecturer, President of the International Bateson Institute. Books: Small Arcs of Larger Circles 2016, Warm Data *upcoming 2019