I’m not a master gardener, but I love to learn about growing plants and trying new things. I get excited about permaculture plans and the creative ways they inspire balance and sustainability.
Each year I learn something new and try to collect more useful weeds in our backyard. I say “weeds” because I want the plants to be hard to kill.
When Nata and I were ready to become homeowners, we were drawn to our house because, although it was in town, it had a fairly generous outdoor space, with three large shade trees. We saw tree houses in our future. As our family has grown, people have asked us when we will move to a larger house, and our response is always, “Why?”
Leaving what we’ve cultivated feels like too big of an ask. Each year we have projects to continue or start. It’s a continual experiment in sourcing useful, edible and beautiful plants.
Last year, as we found ourselves with more time at home, we finally planted a few fruit trees, and I started a living willow structure. It will take years before we will be able to enjoy them to the fullest.
In the winter I’ve spent less time walking around the trees and inspecting their growth. But last week I made my way to the backyard and was struck by the progress. I could see new branches budding on the fruit trees, and my willows were spectacularly longer.
It reminded me that spring is really almost here, and soon I’ll be able to intertwine the willows and keep building toward a dome, far removed from the chill of winter.
Liturgically, the season of Lent guides our passage toward spring. In the Northern Hemisphere, we enjoy a little more light as days lengthen and Easter draws closer. Many of us join in this 40-day period to reflect, grow beyond vices and repent.
In my astonishment at my tree’s growth, I realized I shouldn’t be surprised by this at all. Even in the cold, even in the darkness, growth happens. It’s true for us humans and for my useful weeds.
In this issue of AW you’ll be challenged to see the balance of the Trinity and of feminine and masculine descriptions of the divine. During Lent, please let us know how you are pursuing balance, repentance and creativity. We want to share your stories. When our days are cold and dark, the light we find in each other helps us thrive and grow.
As I write, many of us are experiencing extreme cold — and, in some parts of the U.S., darkness — not just because it is winter but because of infrastructure failures and inequities. I hope that if you are one of those people you have been able to stay safe and warm. I hope too that you have been supported by your community.