Traveling thoughts and a small confession.

Currently I am bouncing along on an Amtrak train heading home from Portland and find myself with time to gaze out the window and ponder, with wifi no less! So seems like a good time for an idle post about recent musings and doings in the land of Sharon

It is a curious process, learning to look back while moving forward on the technology train. ( I speak here metaphorically, not of my actual position on a moving train)

What are we losing with our knowledge gains? What little pieces of the puzzle have we given up for the ease of a task done by fueled mechanics- that leave us further down the track but with a knowledge gap?

I have just read Andrew Nikiforuk’s The Energy of Slaves: Oil and the New Servitude, and think it is one of those books that is a must read for everyone. Imagine what books would be required reading to graduate high school if you ruled the world… this is now on my list for if I ruled…

Nikiforuk has got me thinking more about the bits of knowledge I am acquiring- that are my art production methods as well as just general interest in working from the ground up – really locally in my approach – only using materials from any given site.

This past while has found me thinking differently about even using power tools, and how do we be as self-driven and locally-sourced in meeting our own needs as possible? How much do we take for granted every convenience that propels both our bodies and our lives forward? Nikiforuk puts into very clear detail just how many humans would be required to grind those coffee beans, perk that coffee and toast that bread that gets me out of bed in the morning. It is not just my husband doing the work apparently but a whole team of hidden technology slaves that have an energy equivalent in human numbers. Read it. You will think differently about everything you do!

While these thoughts have been percolating conceptually I find myself biking from garden to garden, watering crops and contemplating what this future cloth I grow will look like. I have three distinct project sites for one project, and I am particularly excited to see how each cloth is of different fibres or blends from different soils.

Now for the confession.

I am a cruel and ambitious gardener. Cruel in that I get distracted in the morning, and don’t get out to water as early as I should, young seedlings take the water from my hose in too hot a sun far too often really for what kindness to plants would dictate. Some days I don’t water at all, but put it off to the next day, feeling too lazy, tired or busy to drag hoses out, instead I stick a finger in the soil and say, “good enough, that’ll do for now, watering can wait until morning.” There is a reason after all I chose to not have children ( my spoiled fur child aside)- a good parent is like a good gardener, aware, present, and predicting future needs. My gardening method runs a bit more to the side of, “oh, right! That! I will just dash off and tend it now so I can ignore it for another 48 hours.” And when it rains- bliss! Suddenly rain days feel like what summer holidays felt like as a child- actual time off! Then I don’t go to the gardens at all but let the weeds bully and have their way with my children. They just have to duke it out in the soil on their own.

The ambitious part of my confession comes from likely having too many little garden plots, easily I can be distracted and a few days slip by without my even thinking about one of the plots- like a quiet child that sits neglected in the corner, waiting for someone to notice them. Good thing gardens don’t need therapy when they grow up as I would be held accountable for the bills, and as my dad always said, crime doesn’t pay- neither does farming. (and certainly not an art practice based of farming- who thought that would pay bills?)

So foraging, I am a much more practiced forager then gardener, though mostly for working plants not eating plants, though my knowledge for both grows every year. In fact, my knowledge about what I SHOULD be doing grows at a rate faster than the plants in my garden, and can always come into practice for next year’s crops. And that is where the ambition comes in again; next year- more, next year- bigger, next year- more variety. You see how easy it is? So for now I ‘settle’, I learn to be happy with what I can accomplish, with what I am doing, with how much abundance I am surrounded by, even if I do have a crop failure where sprouting just didn’t happen- there is still so much to celebrate.

Last week Tracy and I worked at means of production harvesting more Oregon grape bark and berries for dye and the timing was just perfect for harvesting bark off the willow for future weaving.  Tomorrow night I am back at Hastings Urban Farm with Mirae for a dance workshop, and am so excited to have round 2 of spinning while her group dances, and my foot treadle taps a drum to offer up a beat. We have also had a long term loan of Coast Salish Spinning Wheels from West Point Grey Community Association, and Martin and I are going to work on how to make these easily connect to drums as well- A spinning drum band in our future? So while I do my best to try and tend the plants that will be future cloth, I still forage for opportunity that comes up, all of which grow from this local, fertile soil of community that I nurture. Maybe I am not such a bad gardener after all, it is just that my gardens also grow on pavement, in studios and in connecting with others around me with whom I chose to collaborate, being as self-sufficient a community together as we can.

end note: due to train motion and photo sorting not really going hand in hand, photos for this post will happen at a later time!

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