Wednesday, May 25, 2011

This Universe

In a parallel universe I have a modest homestead, on a bit of acreage that includes a woodlot and running water. It's within biking distance of a small town. It's seriously pimped out permaculturally speaking. There's a forest garden, lots of hedgerows, passive solar, an amazing compost system (humanure included) and hugelkultur everywhere. I forage and wildcraft everyday in my Zone 4. I have a root cellar full of stored crops, a kick ass pantry and apothecary. I live really frugally and DIY a lot of my infrastructure and basic needs with salvaged and thrifted materials. I borrow, barter and trade for many other essentials. For whatever cash I do need, I teach yoga classes at the local community centre, lead weed walks and run reskilling workshops to emerging Radical Homemakers. I sell my herbs and other garden products at the farmer's market. I spend more time outside than not. I live by seasons.

In this universe I live underground, in a rented basement apartment in an older suburban neighbourhood in a medium sized city. I don't have any control over my thermostat. I have a kick ass pantry and apothecary, but no root cellar. I pee in a bucket and compost it. I DIY as much as I can and always look for thrifted or salvaged materials before I buy new. I'm happy to borrow/lend, barter and trade with anyone who's willing. I live really frugally but still pay the bills by working an office job Monday to Friday in a climate controlled building. If I didn't look out the windows every now and again, I'd have no idea what the weather was like. I garden on 4000 square feet of rented allotment gardens that are a 15 minute bike ride away from my home. I'm not allowed to make any permanent structural changes there (Although we did build three hugelkultur beds along some edges!) I have two more weed walks planned for this summer. I forage and wildcraft in my Zone 4, it just looks a little different in a cityscape and because I work everyday and lots of things are weather dependent I can't always get to the plants when I need to.

In this universe I give heartfelt thanks for a sunny day on my morning off and make plans to take advantage of this small window of opportunity. After yoga and before work, I bike to my closest semi-wild Zone 4 area to harvest dandelion flowers for an infused oil. I enlist the help of the ADG. But when we get to the park we notice that some of the pine trees are giving off their pollen. He's been interested in collecting some and we've been watching the pines waiting for just this moment. So I leave him to that and start to fill my basket. When I have enough, I check on the hawthorn trees and realise that they are in bloom and need to be harvested now, or never. I harvest until the ADG finds me and tells me I have to leave for work. I get him to help me for just a few more minutes, we thank the hawthorns and then walk back to our bikes. The dandy blooms will sit out overnight to let some of the moisture evaporate out of them before they go into the oil, but the hawthorn flowers need to get tinctured right away. Since I don't have time, I ask the ADG for the favour and give him quick instructions on tincturing. I send him off but not before he points out that I have just handed a man a basketful of flowers to carry through the streets of Ottawa. But he's also got a bag of pine pollen so I figure that more than makes up for it!

Ok, so maybe I don't have the homestead and the acreage and my job keeps me indoors at times when I would much rather be out. I don't have the land for my hedgerow and forest garden (yet). But I make the best of what I've got. And what I do have is pretty amazing and wonderful. I have someone who will carry a basket of flowers home for me and take care of them. It's a good universe to be in.

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Anonymous said...

There's a lot to be said for doing what you can with what you've got. I've got very similar dreams and also live in a similar situation, but I do my best to live sustainably and in the ways that I want while I'm here, even if it's not ideal. Maybe my hoped-for homestead will materialize and maybe it won't, but it feels good to be doing what I can right now.

Amber said...

Well said! And love your blog. :)

Carolita said...

Hi Amber. It had been ages since I've been by and as ever, I'm glad I came. This is a beautiful post and inspires me to do some much-needed positive visioning of the future. Like noththerethenwhere, my dreams are similar to yours and while I do try to live as simply as I can, I've been trapped far too long without enough access to the earth and her bounty. But I must be thankful and remember the time will come where I will be closer to achieving my dream. Because I've seen you getting gradually closer to yours and it is very gratifying.

Carol (from Our World 2.0).

Amber said...

Hi Carol! So lovely to hear from you again. I'm finding more and more ways to connect with nature and growing things, even in the city. It's been a lovely realisation that I don't *need* a place in the country, or a lot of land to get my hands in the dirt! Best wishes for your journey. :)