How do we meet the cold and the dark of the year in a permaculture way; what goes on with ourselves and our gardens, houses, kitchens and landscapes?
This dark time of year commands slowing down, nesting and conserving energy. The soils are resting under the thick blanket of mulch, leaves and twigs that were brought to the garden earlier. Orchards silently receive weak sunshine and strong night frosts. There are hardly any eggs in the chicken house, and goats are giving less milk.
In our lives the opposite happens. The social beat quickens, with invitations to this and that pouring in. There is hardly a time in the day to be quiet and slow, to participate in the life of the natural world. My own answer to this is to start de-mechanizing my life, letting go of shopping trips to town in favor of cooking with foods I stored; of using a broom instead of a vacuum cleaner; of collecting pinecones, twigs and boughs for the fireplace instead of buying a load of firewood. I am busy all day long; but I can do all my work in a calm and quiet way, as it is calm and quiet work.
Recently, a friend commented on my sewing style: “You stitch everything by hand!” she observed. I do not in fact stitch everything by hand, but I do a fair amount of sewing garments by hand. Even a year ago something like this would feel extravagantly old-style to me… But raising a toddler I realized that if I want to do any handiwork (and I do!); if I want to finish making anything without having to do it at night; if I want to be able to live my life and share it with my son, then I must learn to do it in such a way that includes him.
The result of that realization was the beginning of sewing by hand, which I do while he plays – my play is my work – his work is his play. Therefore there are no bread-making machines in our house; no dishwashers; not even a clothes dryer (though I miss it at times, not too acutely really!). All these chores can be nicely done by hand.
I found great resources to teach me how to do it all better. For baking good - really good! - bread (even if you are not blessed with baking skills by the bread-baking fairy!) I suggest Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day book (see this website). For floor-sweeping/broom handling inspiration visit this older post
What in my experience can be of inspiration to others? What moments of joy and aliveness are lost in your life, my reader, to a machine? What can you let go and feel liberated and slow, steady, and quiet? Do you value being slow and quiet as I do? Let me know.