The season is turning. This morning, I jogged past gaggles of school kids waiting for their bus. Yesterday, I crossed out an "8" and replaced it with a "9" while writing the date on the harvest record. It is hard for me to believe that is it already almost midway through September, that summer has past us by, and that I have not returned to school for the first time. I still feel a vague sense of anticipation as though my first day of university has been postponed, despite having attended my last in May of this year.
Through teachings of permaculture and attempting to put its principles into practice, I have cultivated a newfound respect for as well as faith in the eternal logic and intention of nature. As I discover more about permaculture and gardening in general, I have also been struck by the emphasis on gradual benefits of planting and design and measuring one's successes in years--decades even--rather than simply immediate gratification. These lessons and principles have helped me to develop a sense of patience, not only with my circumstances, but with my self. The future is not a race, nor are its pathways set in stone.
Even composting provides a valuable lesson, even though it takes perhaps a lengthy shower and a load of laundry to really draw it out. Taking responsibility for one's own food waste and then being able to utilize it to improve the life and productivity of a garden is one of the best examples for accountability and ingenuity that we can measure ourselves against. Holding ourselves responsible for what we create, and not separating ourselves from the garbage we leave behind is a necessary principle everyone should adhere to, both for each other and especially for the earth.
I left Boston on my WWOOFing adventure shortly after graduation with, restless and emboldened but lacking in direction or certainty. Over the course of a summer filled with travel, novelty, trial, and beauty, I can hardly say that my future has taken on a concrete landscape, but at least I sense a less distant drop-off.
Amidst the influx of queries concerning my plans for when I go back East, I was asked a question by one Songaian that really stood out to me. Over breakfast, he mentioned his experience with Journeys and his expectation of an prompt existential revelation. He then turned it over to us, asking, "so, has the eagle landed on your shoulder?" Though at the time I was tongue-tied, the question stuck with me, as well as his encouraging words about the gradual and elusive nature of that bird's arrival. Although I am sure my eagle is still busy doing the rounds in some distant place, I do think that here at Songaia, I have at least caught modest glimpses, now and then, of its flight.
As a liberal arts major and a bona fide city girl, it is no surprise that I have zero experience with landscape design. The opportunity to think through organically the structure of a food forest that hopefully will come to fruition--literally--has allowed me to find confidence in my own creative intuition as well as to understand that uncertainty or a wrong suggestion are not synonymous with failure. It has also given me insight, however obliquely, into the way things operate in the "real world." We don't always get the chance to read the voluminous text books in advance, or memorize the hundreds of species guilds. Sometimes we just have to grab some burlap sacks and cut our own bamboo--so to speak. True collaboration, passion, and ingenuity can often expedite the learning process, and are a lot of fun!
So, have I felt the weight of an eagle on my shoulder, or even felt a rush of air as it passed me by? Well, no. However, here at Songaia, I have gained an invaluable perspective on my own way forward, as well as the collective future of our planet. Patience, creative intuition, and personal accountability are all values that I can apply to my life far beyond the limits of the garden, and perhaps will even lead me back there someday.
by Louise Akers, Garden Intern 2013
Garden bloggers are community members, volunteers and interns at Songaia.