It’s a glorious, soft spring in the California foothills, with soft rains keeping things lush. I am spending a lot of quiet time at home, caring for my parents, and it’s been a time of reflection, grief, joy and incredible beauty. My mom has cancer and I am staying home to care for her (one of my past lives was a Certified Nurses Assistant and Home Health Aide). I haven’t been at their property this much since I was 13 and home schooled. I am flabbergasted by how easily nature teaches and how much there is to learn. I have lived there off and on for the last 25 years and I am just starting to understand the ecosystem of the forest and watershed that we inhabit.
Of course, I am also just starting to understand the micro biome of my body and the ecosystem that it is. As above, so below, as outside, so inside it seems to be.
So in this moment that feels like years I am taking the time to listen deeply to the birds as they flirt and nest, watch the progression of the wild flowers and let the trees tell me which ones need to be felled so there is plenty of light and air for each of them. I am planning for the next 150 years on that property: thinking of building the soil with wood chips, investing in chickens for manure, looking for animal paths to avoid disturbing, wondering how certain trees will be in that amount of time, clearing for the inevitability of wild fire. All of this is like being human, I realize. We go to school to build our resume so we can plant on that experience, we have to deal with our crap and make sure it serves us and does not stink up the house, we pay attention to paths of those that we want to let be, and we think of the future, of our children growing and of the disasters that we attempt to plan for.
Mom’s cancer has made my work with Mud and Pearls take a new depth. So many things in the building construction are toxic, and off gas and are carcinogenic. So many of the choices that we make in our lives are for the short term pleasure and not the long term contentment.
We are at a crux in the American psyche where we want things to be real, authentic and so our Starbucks coffees come with our names on them and chain grocery stores advertise local. Which is me being snarky and hopeful at the same time.
I love hand built things, they tell a story of the person who made them and feed my soul. We need that as deeply as our earth needs us to give up petroleum, and there is nothing more fake and unsnuggly than plastic. My mom keeps her plastic bags. We have bags that we have been reusing for years. I love it and my dad and I tease about it all the time. They are a precious resource: think of each albatross that is not gagging on that bag. My neighbor Gary Snyder, poet, forester and eco-writer has made me think differently about my garbage. What if I kept it on my property? On my person? Is that not a form of responsibility, a form of an albatross around my neck?
I’m not sure what the future of Mud and Pearls is but I will tell you it is NOT going away. I feel even more impassioned about it.
So check out California Cob’s workshop in June. Learn to build with your hands, with love, with passion, without cancer causing materials, in a way that will last 1000 years and then will melt back into the earth, leaving just the planet the way she likes it.
You can call Rob Sequoia Pollacek at (530) 913-0846 for more information about the June 2015 workshop. And here is his website. He’s not just a cob builder, he is a master artisan of the new American age of natural building, and you will love learning from him.
As for me, I am off line most of the time. I’ll be back, and Mud and Pearls will too. Love from Samantha.