Seeding

I wish I could say that I always do things on a whim, that I act with little consideration for fear of consequences. I’d love to naturally be a free wheelin’ kind of guy, but I’m not really, I’m often calculated, considered, I do things with purpose, reason, logic. I’m the complete opposite to my partner. She is the essence of living dangerously. In many ways she is a caged bird, she is after all, my dreamy hot hippy lady friend that believes in things I don’t understand, burns incense, listens to rad music and would prefer to be on the road sleeping in dive motels and hoary not knowing where tomorrows adventure will lead. Sure sometimes I let myself go, it’s not like I’m totally robotic, but really letting myself go is a rarity, something that I am working on. Recently I decided to do something that isn’t fully considered. I’m just doing instead of over thinking and I’m totally ok with it. 


A few months ago we moved into a modest 3 bedroom weatherboard in our Daylesford town. We’ve been living on the outskirts of town for many years now, but with kids and school it seems smart to be in town. Daylesford is beautiful country town one which melts my heart with it’s beauty. I wish I possessed poetic language to romantically describe it, but don’t believe I do. Suffice to say it has pretty old buildings, a quaint main street and a vibrant community. In our little country town there are a handful of community gardens that have been set up as places where anyone can pitch in, grow food and harvest what they like. I believe the one lose rule is that if you take something you should put  something back. What an amazing concept of balance. Imagine that approach adopted on a broader scale of things for human existence. Philosophical pondering aside,  one of these gardens has been a little neglected for a while. For what ever reason it’s just not attracting much activity. I’m not sure how many years this particular garden has been in existence but for years I’ve driven past it wondering about it. I’ve never been drawn in enough to pull over and check it out, I’m always on the way to somewhere and I’ve always had a vegetable garden of my own. But it needs some help, and I’ve felt this urge to do something about it. 
I contacted the community garden guardian and they where happy enough for someone to get stuck into it. They said something along the lines of “that garden needs a champion” I figure that someone could be me. A few weeks went by and some serious life events happened, and now here I am, in a community garden doing things I didn’t expect I’d be doing, I’m bringing a community garden to life to share with whoever wants to share it. 

From a practical standpoint, there’s a bit of clean up work to get the patch up to scratch. Someone must have loved artichokes because the garden is full of them! But as much as they look amazing, they don’t provide enough food for the real estate they take up, so my first job has been to dig up quite a few to make way from more productive crops. 
The soil is rich, red volcanic, and full of promise. There are established fruit trees and berries, of which I have no idea the variety because it’s dead winter and there’s not a leaf to be seen just sad looking sticks pointing to the heavens. There’s a few woody herbs hanging on notably Rosemary, Mint, Thyme and Sage, and a pretty decent size rhubarb plant, oh and many strawberries, which I’m sure the kids will plunder over spring and summer. Whenever I start work in an unfamiliar garden it takes a full season or two to get used to it’s personality, all those things like soil, pests, position, wind all of these factors determine what a garden is willing to provide. It takes a while to figure out which plants work better than others. I have no idea what pests there are, I’m assuming the usual suspects of snails, slugs, possums, rats and humans. Being right in the guts of the community skate park I’m preparing for a bit of teenage destruction. Which I know will be heart breaking but maybe it might be an opportunity to be able to get through to some kids about food, maybe even their parents. That's not really my ultimate plan, to begin with I just want to grow. I want to turn this thing from a neglected garden into something absolutely thriving and amazing. At least this is something I know how to do, all I need is determination, dedication and elbow grease. All of which I have no problems with. I also have some time, not much, but enough to allocate some time to the skate park patch each week. 


I’m not sure where this project will take me. I have no expectations other than growing some veg, of which of course I will be harvesting and cooking lots of. I’d be mad not to. 


There is only one thing that I’m imagining as an outcome from this project. A moment, a warm afternoon in the garden cooking for people, (hopefully some complete strangers) with produce that I’ve grown right under their noses in the neighbourhood, a small charcoal fire with grilled eggplant, zucchini, caramelised cherry tomatoes, and buttery build spuds. That will be a beautiful moment. Anything else is a bonus. It’s a nice feeling just doing something, with little plans for an outcome other than sharing. 

Start

It’s funny how life has these twists and turns we never plan for or expect. We start off as fresh youthful blank pages, our lives before us, unwritten. As the years go by we take different paths, we make millions of decisions, some big, many seemingly insignificant. Some decisions lead us to dark places, some bring success in different forms, some bring failure, while others bring heartache, joy, romance, passion and everything in between. If you’re a smart cookie you’ll learn from these decisions. Maybe you’ll make a mistake only the once, learn from it then make an effort never to repeat it. Some of us don’t take the opportunity to learn. Some chose a stagnant life, like black water in a still pond, never flowing anywhere, instead we become a magnet for decay. Some of us are gushing rivers, furiously bending and flowing over boulders and logs, the obstacles and wildness of life. Some of us are geysers exploding with immense force with no apparent pattern other than excitement and chaos. I’m sure I’m a little bit of everything.

Many years ago my eyes opened, and things began to appear phoney. Food, people, fashion, culture, societal expectations and normalities. The more I began to question things, the less the human world made sense. For a long time I felt like I was living in a very fragile civilisation that could collapse at any moment, especially if everyone else realised how ridiculous the whole system was. We value things that have no actual value to our continued existence. We normalise behaviour that’s destructive and ignorant of its impacts. We consume ‘food’ having no idea where it’s come from, who produced it, what’s been done to it and what it does to out bodies. We have the same approach to the clothes we consume, the technology we use, cosmetics, consumables, medication and all the bits in between. I’m no angel in these matters. 

I’ve been told that I’m arrogant because I’ve made statements like this before, because I’ve asked questions that I probably shouldn’t ask. That’s ok, I’m aware that it’s uncomfortable to question the basis of our culture, however my preference is to understand and face certain realities regardless of the awkwardness involved. It’s never been about right or wrong, I’m more interested in cause and effect, reality not opinion, in accepting the things we can’t change instead of creating more comfortable alternate realities. There is a peace in accepting the flawed. If this makes little or no sense then we’re in the same boat, because at 41, a great deal of human behaviour still makes little or no sense to me. I’m content with being a life long student, I also accept that we’re on a one way ticket of learning and experiences. What we do with our time is up to us.

For a few years I was trying to set up a significant social project to address a significant social issue, to fight fire with fire. As much as I persevered, the project couldn’t get off the ground. Maybe it was the wrong time, maybe I just have bad luck, maybe as a wider community we just don’t care enough. Whatever the case may be, it didn’t work, and I’ve dealt with that failure. I’m totally ok with it. It’s all part of the life experience. At least I'm able to say that I tried. In reflection, I’ve spent a great deal of time questioning my modus operandi. I tried to fix a social issue head on, it clearly wasn’t the right approach. In an attempt to put this into perspective I find value in a Mahatma Gandhi quote;  "We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do”. You can take what ever you like from that, I get heaps.

A few months ago a mate of mine died in a horrific motorbike/car accident. His name was Rod. He was a pioneer of change, a legend of sorts. In the 1970-80’s he helped introduce Australia to organic farming certification, he also had something to do with setting up Landcare and was involved in the Greens party in the early days. He was the Robert Plant of the green movement. Cool AF. He was a bit of a secret mentor of mine and I treasured moments with him over the five years we worked together. I value those moments where we had the opportunity to chew the fat over a cup of tea and a puff, talking politics, growing food or riding motorbikes. Not often do you get to meet people with a real passion that in some way parallels your own vision for a better world. There are a lot of curated, big noting, pretend ‘doers’ out there. This Rod bloke wasn’t one of them, he wasn’t fake, he was a quiet achiever, the real deal. A true inspiration, a true hero. This was evident at his memorial service which had a huge turnout that filled the town hall and had people parking their cars on the edge of our town centre as the main street was packed. As horrible as Rod’s passing was, it reminded and encouraged me to do something that I've been putting aside for a while. To live. To really live.

I know it sounds lame, but to me it makes a lot of sense. For years it feels like I’ve been feverishly working at things but not getting far, I haven’t been spending enough life energy on living, in the doing of things that are amazing. I’m not talking about scaling mountains or canoeing across vast oceans, I’m talking about those beautiful things in life that are often overlooked. A great meal cooked with love, sharing time with your lover, taking off on a weekend adventure and being present, searching for music never heard, smelling the early morning as the sun wakes a backyard garden. To me, these things don’t cost the earth but often bring great enjoyment. This is what my New Years resolution was; to focus on being alive.

So this is where I’m at in life. Trying to focus on living. The context has been explained as has some of my motivation.

I’ve written books in the past, and they do a great job capturing a moment in time, a period of an authors life, a snapshot. But as humans and writers we evolve, we think differently, we mature and we change. That’s what’s great about writing online, it does both. Captures moments, whilst allowing for change.

This is my new online record of being alive. All the bits and pieces that hold some importance to me. I could keep it all inside my head, but I see value in sharing. That’s what we do well as humans, it’s what has made us who we are. It’s one of the human traits I admire. I hope you find value in my sharing.