If I had the attention of hundreds of people, what would I say? What am I passionate about? What do I think is worth speaking? My friend Danielle recently prompted me with these questions, after hearing about my straggling uncertainties and insecurities about writing for Dancing Rabbit. Prairie here, concluding the end of the week with an honest look at my own values, and the world around me.
Dancing Rabbit grows lush as planted projects flourish and new ones pop into existence: garlic hardens, strawberries ripen, Asian pears form in plentiful swathes with the sun’s lingering touch, and birds continue to nest. The Ironweed gardens have become more concise and accessible after weeks of weeding the sprawling jungle it once was. Tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers have since found their way into the ground, along with the last of our brassica starts and zinnia seeds. Our bed of baby kale, lettuce, tatsoi, mustard greens and the like has been producing steadily. Look at me, talking the garden talk! At this time last year, I would not have been able to identify half the plants around Ironweed.
With the garden well underway, rebuilding the south wall of Osage (Ted and Sara’s earthen home) is next on the list. This is the project I have been looking forward to most since agreeing to work-exchange for them. I hope to learn as much about natural building as I have learned about gardening.
I milked goats for the first time! Some mental notes I took on the experiences were: electric fences are more pleasant to handle when they are off, Alice is significantly easier to milk than Mocha, Curly Sue has quite the personality when she doesn’t want to go back behind the fence, and it’s wonderful to have another person around to hold the goats’ feet, so they don’t step in the milk pan. I have since garnered deeper respect and admiration for the rest of the Goat Co-op members for the hours of care they have taken in the process of bringing local dairy and meat to the community, as well as humbling gratitude for the goats themselves. It’s incredible how these beings can produce such rich and versatile food, and at one to two gallons a day! I feel excited to work to honor a strong value I have about humane animal treatment and locally sourced food.
This week I have felt moved to take in the world around me more fully. I have tried to embody a Permaculture principle I learned after I moved here: observe; a simple action with profound results. I also remembered another Permaculture saying: nature does not create expendables. Every leaf on every tree has a purpose. Every blade of grass grows for the whole. I kept looking. Nature values diversity. How many plants can one find in any given place at any given time? What shapes, colors, properties do they have? Our world is infinitely abundant in flora flavor, and equally so in fauna; the same is true with humans. No two people are precisely the same, and no one is expendable. We all have our individual potentials and purposes. We are unique from each other while we also dance to the same rhythm as this planet.
Our world is powerful: it can split the ground open, it can pour water from the sky for days, volcanoes erupt and rain fire; it is a force to be reckoned with, it gives life and death. While many natural disasters are caused by human impacts, I want to remember that even with our destructive influence, Earth holds profound wisdom and energy to be acknowledged.
How much would we learn, not only about the world around us and how to thrive harmoniously within it, but about ourselves? Maybe I am being unrealistically optimistic in saying that humans belong here too. Perhaps we can fit into this complex equation of existence just as steadily as beans weave around corn and blueberry bushes, not only to contribute to the soil and underground ecosystems, but to give fruit for animals and people alike.
Would you like to spend two weeks experiencing the lushness Prairie described? Join us from July 7 – 21 for tons of fun, good food, and a chance to learn about all dimensions of sustainability and community-living with tons of like-minded people. Don’t let the fruits of summer pass you by.