The record-breaking heat up here at The Ranch and throughout California has me wishing our underground root cellar/wine storage/hangout zone/ always-cool room were already built. I’d be down there right now. (Of course, it doesn’t really have to be underground- just covered by the insulating power of 3 feet of earth or built of thick walls of straw or clay or stone).
So until that happens, I stay cool by drinking ice-tea sweetened with mint from the garden and lie down to read a new book in the shade of the tree I planted a few years ago when I moved to this once-barren corner of The Ranch.
I’m grateful for that tree and its intrinsic ability to cast shade and cool the environment around it. It can’t help but do that – it’s its nature.
I find that appreciation to be a similar theme running through the new book I’m reading, “Hope Beneath Our Feet: Restoring Our Place in the Natural World”. It’s a collection of essays from luminaries in the environmental movement, including Larry Santoyo, that address the question “If our world is facing an imminent environmental catastrophe, how do I live my life right now?
And while each of the many authors has their unique and beautiful take on the question, it seems that it comes down to this: let us cherish and protect what we love about our world now. Wherever we live, city, country, apartment or house, we each can find a way to act upon and honor this and that will give us the power to continue.
I find that learning permaculture design has helped me to do that. By understanding that everything is a potential resource, I allow myself to see more possibilities and probabilities for designing and caring for the systems, natural and constructed, around me and to play with them. That gives me hope.
Being involved in the design courses for over 10 years and watching the students who have taken them also gives me hope, as I know now that there are plenty of people out there whose care is leading them to seek the tools that can help them effect the greatest change with the resources at hand.
If you need an inspirational lift for dealing with the world’s challenges, then do go ahead and read this book. If you want to learn a process for meeting those challenges, then study permaculture. There’s still time to register for EarthFlow’s LA permaculture class series beginning Oct 2 & 3 and for the two week intensive San Luis Obispo permaculture class that begins Oct. 17 .
As Larry reminds his students, “We have everything we need for a sustainable future now.” Truly, we don’t need to wait for anyone or anything. It’s just a matter of choosing- agreeing- to make the changes necessary.
Feeling hot? Plant a tree, grow some cooling mint for your ice tea and then come help me build my earth-sheltered coolroom. Restoring our place in the natural world is the greatest challenge and most hopeful thing that we can do now to adapt and advance.