Sometimes making a serious list, you know the ones with the two columns, listing positive and negative aspects of a certain decision can be helpful when confronting big decisions. Strangely, it can be helpful for some of the smallest and least significant decisions as well. What is most odd though is the fact that no matter how minuscule a decision may seem, when it involves the rest of the world, it can have huge consequences. For instance, standing at the checkout, the counter person asks, “Paper or plastic?” The dualistic thought process gets fired up and the third option is overlooked. No bag is an option as well, but the unspoken reality remains occult (hidden). Option four would be to act like a hunter gatherer and assume that you are going into the store to procure something, and to bring your own container to make carrying whatever you came for easier. I could speak at length about the dual category list for each of the four possible options, but I leave that to those of you who have not tried this exercise before. I certainly don’t want you to use my list, because you, most likely, have your own unique attributes and caveats for each of the four possible choices. Suffice it to say, I try to remember my cloth bags, but when I forget, I most often take away the paper bags because I love to make papier mache’. Plastic bags don’t work for it, and I have dozens of plastic bags at home from when things got bagged up without me being asked, or from when I shopped at places that only had plastic. I have found that for the small garbage cans in the laundry and bathroom, they work best for lining the container anyway, so they do serve some purpose if I bring them home.
Establishing a “garden” based on the principles of permaculture means getting very clear on what you don’t want to do and learning as you fumble forward into a new way of thinking and seeing the world. Until I began to understand the terms on which Mother Nature would deal with me, I had little inkling about how I might respond to her or, in fact, what I wanted to convey to her. The making of lists continues although the values I place on decisions has changed. From the start, I thought that producing large crops of vegetables was my primary goal in the garden. As I have aged, I have come to see the value of just having a place that I can be in nature without having to work. Looking around and realizing what is going on all the time, whether I’m seeing it or not, is as much a part of my greater vision as is harvesting food for the nourishment of my family. I live in an area of very high energy. This etheric force is subtly expressed, but easily recognizable once you know what to look for. Before I knew about that energy, I just saw ants. Everywhere. They are attracted to and enhance energetic fields. Imagine their living colonies, sometimes spreading several feet under ground and in my yard at least, several feet in every direction from their main entrance. They certainly enliven the soils, but as with any colony, they must be fed and are not afraid to devour the very “crops” that I might want to nurture.
After learning about the energy center that is my garden, I have also learned, partially from those very ants that I didn’t like at first, how to utilize the flow for productive pursuits. I currently lose far less to the ants, but more importantly, when I do lose something to them, I give it gladly because my focus has changed. I still place the chicken tractor, a device constructed to contain the chickens, but be easily wheeled around the yard, on top of the anthills from time to time, but not out of hatred for the creatures. What I have learned is that chickens like to eat ants and as long as they don’t eat too many, their egg production is not negatively affected when they do. The ants seem to handle the adversity well, and their energies are balanced by creatures that fill another niche, making the system more diverse and productive.
Early in my development I was exposed to two types of hippy gardens. Not the kind you might think of fight off the bat, I have seen two kinds of those as well, but vegetable gardens.
One was nearly identical to the other in size, seed choices and terrain but the approach was diametrically opposed. Our family spent virtually no time in the garden itself. We went in with big tools and a big truck load, or several, of horse manure. Of course, expediency being the mantra, we didn’t compost or mulch it at all. We grew a helluva lot of weeds and, I think, out of the hundred dollars or so that we spent on seed, we got a few small pumpkins and a carrot or two. That experience might have ended the average person’s interest in gardening, but I saw through comparative analysis, that it was not a futile discipline. In fact, with care, forethought and tenacity, nearly any ground could be made to flourish, or run amok without those same traits being applied to it’s management. The neighbor’s beds flourished. They had no truck to bring in manure, but they had collected their food waste and grass clippings to use as fertilizer. Their tender seedlings that sprouted from seed that they grew from the abundance of crops the year before were lovingly mulched. All the work in the neighbor’s garden was done before 10 am, and the majority of their enjoyment of it was just before dusk. Our weed patch on the other hand was commonly not thought of until noon and then the sweltering heat of summer made the weeds seem just that much taller and staunchly committed to holding on to the clay soil
To establish harmony with the planet, we must take time to reflect on what we want and why. Without a deeper understanding of who we are, we cannot fully grasp what Mother Earth wants from us.