Meanders from the Tall grass

I have the best ideas and the best energy in the mornings.  I must remember this. Yes this morning I was full of energy and ideas.  I used it to good advantage.  Ideas, chores, exercise, finishing the job that was too tiring from yesterday. First chickens and then to finish the job from yesterday. There was a good flow today. The morning was fresh, warm and wet. It was perfect. It rained hard for a few minutes and then just sporadically and lightly.

I went out side and let the chickens out.  They walked out and started cooing and pecking as they gained their bearings.  Then after a minute or so they hearded up, 7 chickens getting their bearings, their grokking of the land, plants, dangers, the new fresh morning air.  The rain, slightly annoying but actually if you relax into it, quite refreshing.  We have a free roaming chicken heard of sorts or a hoard, or a flock.  They were once 12 but now there is but 7, all white with an undercolor of slight yellow.  They are healthy looking and vigorous.  My dear one, Raquella has said that everything likes the taste of chicken and I see she is correct. It was dogs, and hawks that did in the 5. A big raccoon was snooping about but didn’t find a way into the light duty coop.

But the henhouse is just big enough for them to sleep. The yard is not fenced and as you will see later, I value freedom. They value freedom. But that means danger. I think they accept this bargain.

They deign to sleep in the henhouse but just barely.  Sometimes they sleep in trees nearby.  Once two were gone for more then 24 hours and presumed permanently lost.  But after a full day and some hours they showed up in the morning unhurt and in good chicken spirits.

The chickens have found a nice-shaded thicket two houses away, they found a semi abandoned garage and some other places to peck and scratch and to hide.  So, they wander but come back in the evenings, usually.  It goes best if I sit in an outdoor reclining chair at about 8 when they want to coop up for the night.  They gather around me and if I set quiet enough they sometimes hop onto my chair arm or even onto my leg.  If I spend about 15 minutes with them I feel them grounding with me and in this they understand their place and that they are somewhat safe.  Then they go more easily into the coop. 

It was when we spent four days away at the rural property that they really began to wonder and to wander.  I would stop back just as it was getting dark and I would attempt to gather them. But only once in the 4 nights was I able to get them all in the coop. One or several sensing my absence during the day, were absent. And though I didn’t like it, I locked the birds that I had in, and hoped for the best. Amazingly during this short period of absence the birds nested safely making it through the night, some in and some out of the coop.

Sometimes they perch on a gate nearby their coop as night is falling, and if I am gentle and quiet I can lift them off the gate and place them in the coop.  If I am less grounded and abrupt they will fly off out of my reach and then I chase them to the coop.  Sometimes a chicken will go to the coop and go in.  Occasionally I can not gather them and they go to the mulberry tree or other hiding spot I don’t know about.  But amazingly we have not lost a chicken in about two months.  They have gotten bigger and savvier.

This morning, after the chicken freeing, I went and took care of a small job that I didn’t finish last night. I am an arborist and had left several piles of brush at a clients property to be cleaned up and chipped into my trailer. I went over there, bolstered by the morning air and coffee and veritably danced through the chipping and clean up.

Back to my home situation. In my neighborhood are various hoards of young humans, principally from the houses to the right and left of my own sometimes. These kids are on summer vacation and full of energy and play. I try to remember what being a kid was like.

The play fantasy games coming up with roles and characters. The oldest girl directs these fanasy games coming up with roles and asking the others to come up with nick names. She loves directing and play acting, trying out different roles. On the other side is a very outgoing girl who has come into the habit of saying “Hi Andrew.” from her yard to mine often. The other kids from the other yard now have learned her habit and for the last two days have been saying “Hi Andrew” as well. But some of the boys sometimes try to grab or chase the chickens.  Sometimes I see them act in sneeky ways and not sure how much to trust them. They grew up in America. We are not kin. They are kids, haven’t done anything real bad but I must regulate my yard.  So far I have put up no exclusionary peripheral fence and have allowed an easement of sorts but I do feel the inner conflict over their through passage.

This brings me to a topic I think of often, property management or maybe more properly termed in our culture, “property rights”.

I think that private property should be limited to the house and environs.  My beliefs are possibly Anti-American so I say them with a bit of discomfort.  I don’t like to offend but as I think, feel and reason I come to the belief that only small personal holdings, immediate grounds for stores, businesses and factories should exclude others.

Larger properties, farms, private holdings should allow egress of people and animals.  And it should not be perilous to do so.  Fencing large areas would be out in my world.  Instead we could fence small areas for gardens, cattle and home and allow the natural flow that would occur.

Further there should be more precautions against road killed animals.  Why is it for or us to kill millions of deer, badgers, foxes, birds, raccoons and others that try to cross our roads.  Do animals not have a right to live and travel in this realm as well?

Preachy I know.  But it is tragic, painful and wrong that millions of animals are killed by our motor vehicles every year.

Now back to our chickens. They wander. The children run through. Its kinda ok. Kind of not. I don’t want a big inclusionary/exclusionary fence. But a chicken could easily be killed any day. Kids could take something or get hurt or sabotage my yard. I don’t know. It does make me a bit uncomfortable to have them running through but I value their freedom and I value my private property and I let them have an easement. Yet it is tentative.

The rain brings me to another subject. Water sovereignty. I would love to catch all my water, catch my energy, grow my food and live local and without plastic. But who’s dreaming. Not possible. But I begin. “Tartaria, Live the impossible Dream!” That’s a meme from Autodidactic Youtube channel.

This morning.  It was raining.  The air was fresh.  I have acquired, bought or traded for 4 rain tanks. About 400 gallons can be stored. I am in the second iteration of the stands and just recently have all four plumbed off the house gutters. Half of the house now collects and shunts water through gutters, through a double mesh screen and into these tanks. This can be then used by my gardens, stuff with dirt on it and an overheated body to cool off. Animals could get a drink or a bath. Amazing plans are in the works. I am inspired.  I am inspired to gather and then disperse these waters.

I seek to create recursive systems. Systems that feed each other and create little waste. But I keep coming up against resistance or incompatability. It still is easier to buy use and throw away than to grow, share, recycle. I feel we, maybe me but I can’t do it alone must live the impossible dream. Even when it is not now practical. I feel we are at the brink of a paradigm shift. It will be a shift in systems thinking. It will be a shift in circular manufacture and it will be a shift in consciousness.

Wikipedia defines paradigm shift as:

A paradigm shift, a concept correctly identified by the American physicist and philosopher Thomas Kuhn, is a fundamental change in the basic concepts and experimental practices of a scientific discipline. Even though Kuhn restricted the use of the term to the natural sciences, the concept of a paradigm shift has also been used in numerous non-scientific contexts to describe a profound change in a fundamental model or perception of events.

I can not make my world as functional as I want it to be.  The pieces just don’t all fit. I work too hard and I spend too much time alone. Also I just can’t not buy gasoline, plastic, damaging products etc without making great efforts. Why do we need to make supernatural efforts to live the life we aspire to?

Maybe a paradigm shift in this culture could bring the holistic changes many of us seek.  I am not satisfied with America’s culture.  It has atomized us. We are treated as consumers first and people second. Our spiritual needs are manipulated into ways to sell us products to give us short term good feelings. Our self worth is equated with status and physical acquisition. The market says the answer is more stuff.

This morning as I was taking dogs for walk and then finishing a job I started yesterday, I was feeling sadness for the many people I have known and lost touch with.  I know I could be on Facebook, Instagram etc and keep up but I don’t like to.  I don’t have enough time to live and take care of life responsibilities here in Fairfield Iowa and be in touch with all the people I think about and care about.

Maybe I should only work 3 to 4 days and so have time for people and projects.  But business, money, bills, dogs, relationship, family, cleaning, maintenance, sleeping etc. Most of us are there.  We can’t do it all. 

I know that life is not perfect.  It rarely if ever was.  But what if instead of every household having a garden, a swingset, a compost area, and a trampoline, an RV and a workshop, there was one of each for the block and the various family’s shared in their upkeep. Also we would have to work with our neighbors. I think we would have more time and less lonliness.

I recall the permaculture class I took 20 years ago and feel that if people lived by the principals of permaculture we would life happier and less wasteful lives. The principals were something like:

  1. Use the waste of one process to fuel another. Mulch is good.
  2. Build connections
  3. Stack functions. Each action or project should have more than one benefit
  4. Share the excess. There are times when the bounty is more than we can use and so lets share it instead of waste it.

I think of permaculture which is the conjunction of permenent and culture. The antidote to throw away culture and landless culture, permaculture grounds you in the land and seeks to create connections and meaningfulness in its practice. It is much more than just gardening with lots of mulch.

I took this class from a creative and kind soul named Christopher Shine some 20 years ago in Oakland California and amazingly he called called me several days ago. We didn’t connect until today and I thanked him again for the class and the ideas. It has influenced me profoundly all these years.

I heard a great talk on Youtube yesterday from Rupert Sheldrake on the topic of Science and Spirituality.  He speaks to the issue of lack of meaning when we drop religious practices. He describes activities and practices that can imbue life with meaning that mostly come from the religious world but don’t need be tied to religion.

Rupert Sheldrake described going on pilgrimage to various cathedrals in England with his nephew.  They took the whole day to walk to a cathedral, take tea, ask for the dole (bread and ale) and it becomes imbued with meaning.  The nephew loves it. We have mostly lost religion but with it we lose meaningful rituals, including, songs, traditions, pilgrimage, gatherings and the like.  Well he says it doesn’t have to be that way.

Sheldrake says people are most alive when they feel in the flow of life.  That would concur with my experience.  I am most at peace and happy when there is a flow that I participate in.  It usually involves activity, often with other people, activity that is dynamic and not fully scripted or predicted.

I believe he mentioned 7 (or more) practices that can give us a spiritual experience no doctrine necessary. They include sports, dance, pilgramage, meditation, coming of age ceremonies, song, sexual experience, psychodelic plant trips, and near death experiences.

This is a topic that is of interest to me. On with the flow. Thanks for listening.

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