Mountain sunset with reflective pond in foreground

A Head Full of Dreams

The secret to good sleep? Move to a mountain acreage. I’ve heard about “sleep quality,” but I never understood it until we settled into our rental in Silverton – it’s as though my husband and I are catching up on years of sleep. We’re tired at 8:30 pm and can sleep 10 hours (or more). And, for the first time in a long time, I’m actually dreaming.

It’s just so peaceful out here. I’m not awoken by squealing tires or garbage trucks or an altercation in the nearby parking lot at any, and all hours of the night. Instead of the motion sensor light from the building next to us, or the circular illuminated parking sign that has served as our moon for so long, it’s nearly pitch black, that is, aside from the multitude of stars we are now able to see. 

I didn’t realize what a difference it would make. I am so much more relaxed, calmer. I am captivated by the mosses and mushrooms, the frogs and birds. There is a family of deer that come to visit a few times a week. I’m reminded of all the beauty in the world – all that’s right, instead of all that’s wrong.

And isn’t that increasingly the best lens through which to view the world?

drawing a permaculture design blueprint

Start Where You Are, Do What You Can, Use What You Have

I have been interested in permaculture for some time, recognizing its nature-guided, systemic approach to sustainable living as a set of principles I’d like to adopt.

Last month, I was thrilled to start Verge Permaculture’s online design course, where I first heard the maxim that serves as the title of this post (which, I should note, is unsolicited).

I am loving this course so far. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of information, but I appreciate the simplicity, obviousness even, of the permaculture approach: let nature guide the design and development of a resilient, and ideally, regenerative system.

As one Verge instructor said: nature has been “designing itself” for more than four billion years. Who are we to assume to know better? We are fortunate that nature is antifragile, but it can only tolerate so much devastation.

It has become clear to me that humankind, generally speaking, has lost its respect for nature, to its own detriment. We have been focused on extracting from the earth as much as we can to sustain our unsustainable lifestyles, and we haven’t been giving back. And, it’s not just an error of omission – our extravagances have increasingly been wreaking havoc on the planet.

Climate change, pandemics, and politics aside, surely everyone knows that you can’t grow food in dirt. You need soil, a living ecosystem all its own, which the earth is losing at alarming rates. Take care of the earth, or count your numbered days.

This post was not intended to be doom and gloom, rather, hopeful in nature (pun intended). The Verge team, as well as its 300+ students, have given me hope. Permaculture can easily be practiced by anyone who is patient enough to observe and design based on natural ecosystems. When we take care of nature, we take care of ourselves.

When I get overwhelmed by how to design the perfect permaculture guild or rainwater harvesting system, I remember that permaculture is an iterative process, and to just start where I am, do what I can and use what I have.