I have written previously about Permaculture Principles. Since discovering Permaculture years ago, I have slowly been trying to put these principles into practice in my day to day life and thinking. If you are new to this site, you will know that I do not say this in some esoteric or pseudo-religious manner. Permaculture is a practical science, and its practice has actual implications. Understanding what these implications are and how to achieve them is what the science of Permaculture is all about. Ultimately, it strengthens resiliency in our day to day existence, and it is to this end that I am most drawn.
Principle One states to Observe and Interact. The first part of Principle One, observe, is the starting point to understanding pretty much everything else about Permaculture. Observation, through the lens of Permaculture, allows us to critically examine the world around us, to see systems. It is the foundation allowing us to design new systems, because it is from these observations, i.e. what we have seen, that we are able to create new systems in the first place.
Another way of saying this is that Permaculture Design is really an amalgamation of multiple systems which we have observed in nature in one form or another (or from other human-made designs, which were themselves originally created through observation).
So in the vein of practicing what I preach, I realized that it has been quite some time since I put the first part of Principle One into overt practice. Really, I am always trying to observe. I am always trying to understand the world around me. Why is that plant growing there? Why is that plant doing so well? Why is that plant about to die? Why are the hills shaped just that way? Why is the fog drifting in that direction? Why is that cow lying down in that spot when all the others are lying down in another?
This is just a scratch at the surface of the thoughts that run through my head every day. I am actively trying to observe all the time. However, it has been too long since I have sat down and observed my own garden. So I did it today.
I went out and laid down in my garden. Grass under me and sky above me, I just relaxed in the warm sun and cool ocean breeze. I was looking up at Bird of Paradise and Hibiscus to my right, and Fava Beans, Garlic, Rosemary, and Tomato and Corn seedlings in one of my garden beds to my left. At my head was my one Century Plant (Agave americana marginata) and a large bed of Aloe with wild Azorean Blackberry canes snaking their way between the succulents. I could hear the Sparrows chirping non-stop and the Ocean crashing on the volcanic rocks about a hundred yards (90 meters) away. I could smell that great scent of clean soil and also fresh mint as my dog stepped on some runners growing along the edge of the shrub line.
I almost fell asleep, but then my dog decided to lift his leg and urinate about five feet from my head. Inner tranquility is rather diminished in the presence of highly odiferous dog urine. Oh well, it was time to get up and get some other things done.
For this exercise, I spent twenty minutes just taking it in and resting. I can’t remember the last time I did this. To be honest, I didn’t make any revolutionary observations, but I was rejuvenated. It was worth it for that alone. I will try to make this a more regular habit from now on. Maybe I will stumble upon something life changing. Probably I will just get to know my little garden better, or perhaps I will just get a little much needed, often neglected rest.
But next time, I’ll lock the dog out of the garden first.