Podcast Season 2: Hunger & Resilience

S2: Episode 12 - Gary

Episode Information

[Intro Music]

Narrator:  Welcome to Hunger and Resilience, narrative histories about the complexity and experiences of hunger. A traveling exhibition and weekly podcast edited and hosted by Michael Nye, supported by the San Antonio Food Bank, Eric Cooper, executive director. We are grateful for the honesty and eloquence of every voice. Episode 12, Gary.

Gary: Well, life is is a very precious thing. All living things matter. Life is a, a learning experience. If it weren’t for those who observe life, who observe how life works, we wouldn’t know anything about ourselves. We wouldn’t know anything about other living things. As a child, I didn’t think like the other children. I always questioned religion because of my being different. I was teased and harassed often in school. I felt more at ease when I was out in, in the wild, uh, surrounded by trees. Any mammal, even insects, have always felt out of place, uh, ever since I was a child.

A naturalist is a person who is scholarly or learned in plant and animal life. Generally, they are botanists or zoologists. There is nothing more important. I didn’t start college until I was 44. Uh, I went 10 years taking one and two classes at a time. Right now, I’ve been out of work for such a long time. I haven’t worked in 16 months. I try and I try. I put in probably eight to 10 applications a month. I will get a few interviews. I think that maybe my depression and anxiety may keep me from getting a job. I I have zero income. Things are are very hard right now.

I went to St. Mary’s Soup Kitchen on Thanksgiving. I didn’t have any food in the house. They gave me some mashed potatoes and gravy, two slices of ham, some green beans, a cup of coffee. You could have as much coffee as you like. And then I had a very delicious piece of pumpkin pie. I didn’t talk to anyone, but it just made me feel good to be around other people. After I finished my meal, I went up and thanked the people who were serving. I have in the past, when I haven’t had much or anything to eat, I have tasted Anisroot. It’s a member of the carrot family. I have eaten milkweed. The flour tops before they bloom are edible. I’ve come across a a, a wild pear tree. I’ve picked those and taken ’em home, you know, used those as a meal.

Hunger is not only a a, a mental pain anguish. It’s also physical. The walls of the stomach are closed and secrete hydrogen chloride, which will burn. People look at you as being less of a human as not being very smart. Hunger makes you feel like, uh, there may be no tomorrow. It, it makes you feel worthless. When I’m out hiking through a forest, I get excited about everything I see. There are always things to learn. There are flowering, uh, herbaceous species. There are white oaks, there are red oaks. There are some hickory trees. I stop and listen to the birds singing, perhaps tree frogs croaking. I may hear chipmunks chirping under the brush. It just thrills me to see these things.

[Outro Music]

Host:  Gary is a naturalist. He’s at home in a forest with plants and animals and insects and birds. He says there’s nothing more important than being in wild places, and there’s always so much to learn. We are grateful for Gary’s caring, nature and depth of knowledge, his presence and his persistent courage. May something in Gary’s story Stay with you. I’m Michael Nye. You may go to my website, michaelnye.org/podcast for photographs and transcripts. Thank you for listening.