Friday, July 24, 2009
Pruning & Cut -backs
"It is utterly forbidden to be half-hearted about your gardening. You must love your garden, whether you like it or not." ~WC Sellar &RJ Yeatman... In Personal Permaculture- The garden is you.
Last week I was pruning grapevines in a friend’s vineyard, we went out early in the morning and quit when it began to get warm. It was very lovely, thoughtful, and heartfelt work. Pruning grapes has an interesting balance, between the rules for pruning or preserving the best fruit. It was cathartic and made me consider the constructive side of deconstruction, the plowing, weeding, pruning, or thinning, in relation to the permaculture of self.
Growing grapes involves different levels of pruning from light to hard for different seasons then, every seven years, the grapes should be allowed to grow wild with abandon. The grapevines left on their own reach out forever with long vines and large leaves in every direction, but don’t focus on roots or fruit so such years are not about the harvest. That first hard prune after a long summer of undisciplined revel must come as quite the shock to the plants…perhaps not unlike now on the planet. Life has been remarkably easy for most for quite a long time. At this time on the planet many people are experiencing a hard prune in one or more aspects of their lives. It has come in the form of lost jobs, home, cars, financial security, the loss of health, relationships, and or lives. Although strength and solace can be found in friendships, prayer, silence, work, or gardens, there is nothing which makes great loss comfortable.
The season which follows the year of casual abandon in the vineyard typically offers a spectacular harvest. Human cycles are not as short as that of a grapevine but understanding that there is cycle, however long it may be, can be helpful. With people we have the choice to grow, hunker down or retreat further, making ourselves smaller. I feel that I am too young to either begin arguing for my limitations or recoiling in retreat. So after the initial denial, drama, and grief, I track back through the choices I’ve made, finding the points where, either out of story or my very incarnation, I can own my life as my creation. Ownership is paramount.
Part two takes even more courage- Dreaming one’s self onto new ground.
How does a thirty year old, sixty foot tall, sprawling avocado tree cope with being stumped chest high, painted white and having its water reduced to almost nothing? With the California water restrictions, stumping has been the strategy for managing the older groves. It’s harsh. Sometimes not a leaf is left on the tree. I imagine it feeling like imminent death.
Yet, after a time of stillness, miraculously they begin sending out branches. It takes a few years, but the trees come back with structure and bounty. Avocado trees know they are connected to the earth and sky, they naturally stretch back out and fill the space.