Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Living Art of Home

Attempting to contain a squirmy Vera
It's a foggy Sunday morning in Benicia. I'm sitting in the green room, scrolling through homesteading tips on Pinterest, munching on Klee's fresh-baked shortbread cookies, and listening to Elliott and Klee as they build Zoob mobiles and robots. I feel divinely content.

When I consider my happiest moments, I usually recall this feeling, a sensations which frequently equates to home. Home is comfort, familiar, warm. For me, home has always been more than a functional structure checking a box on some list of hierarchy of needs. It is an extension of my heart and mind, where I relinquish my guard and expose my vulnerabilities.

Home is my art.
The colors, textures, smells, sounds; the walls filled with stories; the books and magazines tucked on, in, under, behind the collections of tables and shelves; pinwheels and branches, jars of stones, sea-glass and shells, old postcards, peacock feathers, and dish collections; ALL are brushstrokes from my heart.

And home spills out into the dirt, pushing out toward the fences, and beyond. Potager Cottage is the first home I've lived in that has provided the opportunity to develop that beautiful dirt into whatever my creative spirit desires (within in the limits of the landlord's restrictions and our own funds).

I have visions of how our little homestead will evolve. An abundant and overflowing potager, with flowers all around, and drought resistant ground cover to run and play on, a rich compost heap, and CHICKENS (and bees... a goat?)! I imagine us sitting comfortably outside, on garden chairs, sipping Klee's kombucha and chatting with neighbors. On weekends we could open up our side yard as a farm stand to sell excess produce and Klee's jarred delectables.

We got a good start last summer. We rebuilt our front fence, built raised boxes, and excitedly seeded the front potager. I spent months diligently weeding, amending, and planting. It was starting to look like a real garden. Neighbors were stopping by to say what an improvement it was over the weed jungle that we had moved into only a few months before.

And then it rained. It rained for most of December. All Californians were celebrating the small relief from the years of drought. And, in just a few wet weeks, this happened...

WEEDS! And crabgrass, and mounds of fallen twigs and leaves! It was as if all those hours of careful grooming never even happened!

So, of course, I intensely personalized this rebellion of our soil to mean that I had failed as a homesteader and a human, and should go back to bed indefinitely. But, after several days of walking outside and staring at the organic mess with hands on hips, only to return to the warmth of the wall heater in defeat, I resolved to dig back in.

In a surprisingly short amount of time, the garden began to reveal herself again. As the weeds diminished, I could see that the ground cover of elfin thyme had spread beautifully in the rain. The artichoke plants were strong and reaching for the sky, promising deliciousness to come. The tomatoes gave a big last hurrah, enough to fill a small basket.
I even pulled a pot-full of beet greens, spinach and twisted up carrots and made a soul-warming soup.

I hadn't failed! I had merely experienced my first lesson in Fall.

Like everything else about home, homesteading is a process of education, self-discovery, and expression. It feeds my peaceful center.

It is Living Art.