Wisdom of the OakOur visits come and go all too quickly but this was our shortest visit to date; we had to make the most of the bank holiday weekend. With my PDC closely looming and our daughter’s graduation on the horizon, our time would be taken up elsewhere for a while.  We had to make the most of this short, but as always, meaningful trip.

We camped, only the second time, since the weather last year left the ground so sodden and muddy that camping wasn’t an option. This was made even more pleasurable though by having cut the grass with our manual push mower – a recent acquisition from our local Freegle group.

Now we are by no means short of things to do, but we found that using the mower became the most amusing activity. There was even a healthy sense of envy as we watched each other use it with a look that said, “right my turn now”.

Amazing…turning a necessary task into a game. The mower was the icing on the cake for cutting the grass, having spent the last 12 months keeping the rush down, turning an area  of thick resilient rush into the perfect camping area.  We were obviously deprived as children, having discovered this new sense of excitement over a manual push mower. We plan to offer this unique experience to our visitors. My intention is to amuse you here.

Crazy….excitement over a piece of machinery……?  When something means so much to you though as our dreams for wishtree do, sometimes it’s the simplest things in life that can make you the happiest. Creating this area has been one of our major projects and the mower has helped us to achieve this. It meant the first stage of our plans for having visitors and volunteers was becoming a reality.

We knew we couldn’t get much done in the few days we were there, so we made a point of doing what we could whilst making the most of the beautiful weather, probably on ratio having more sun in 3 days than we’ve had in nearly 2 years.

We continued with the much needed maintenance as well as laying the last pieces of cardboard needed for our experimentation and first planting area. This was another long awaited task which we had been slowing working towards completing over the last year. Slowly but surely our hard work is paying off in what seems like forever but…. in the scheme of things, is actually a short space of time.

The cardboard had all but disappeared from the first 1m x 2 m area sheet-mulched in April 2012. This meant the worms had moved in, which in turn meant the fertility had increased. We’re not experts on soil fertility but we hope to harness the nutrients in the heavy clay soil by building the humus layer up and making them more accessible to a variety of plant species.

We always work hard when we are in the wood, not really stopping anywhere near often enough to enjoy what’s around us, but observation is as important a principle as any other in Permaculture; some would say the most important. By relaxing, and taking the time out to just “be”, we can be lazy and productive at the same time.

Sitting and observing the areas around us, the sunshine seemed to give the earth a new flush of life. Butterflies dived and danced around the soft swathes of grass and delicate white flowers that now grow where once the rush was dominant. A pair of collared doves played chase as they pranced and swooped from tree to tree. I watched with such joy as I could see the magic of wishtree unfold.

Every act we do allows the magic to escape in each area we manage, showing us something new each time, inspiring us more. Sometimes a mental block stops us from seeing the design as it can be. We leave it for a few days, weeks or months and often when we return we can see it in a new light, opening up its potential.

I recently listened to a podcast by Scott Mann who was interviewing Stephen Harrod Buhner.  Stephen spoke of how the ambience we feel when we walk into a room, be it good or bad, is the existence of an energy in which the earth is trying to tell us something about that particular moment.  He talks about us being touched by it:

 “some of our own energy is given to that moment as that moment gives to us and teaches us things to learn from that experience. Where the rekindling the response of the heart to what’s presented to the senses means, allowing the world to touch you and understand it when it does….a deeper holistic way of looking at the world.”

Stephen continues by saying these moments the Greeks called aesthesis, (pertaining to the senses), an exchange of essence between two souls. My moment with the butterflies was such a moment as this, an exchange between Gaia and myself.

This aesthesis is felt so many different ways as we take our morning and evening walks around the wood. On our leaving walk we wondered if we were being mocked in a sense of abandonment as we discovered another apple tree and a small patch of bugle, knowing what we would miss over the coming months, our pending commitments preventing us from visiting for a while. To us though, it was yet another indication of the bounty and fertility of the wood.  It didn’t matter. This was a moment we had captured and could both hold on to till our long-awaited return.