WATCH a child and if they see something that intrigues them, they stop and engage with it. Anything they find seems to be a new discovery that must be observed and engaged. In permaculture this is the first principle. However, discovery goes beyond observation. It takes us into the joy that we all used to have as children but is often relegated to a smaller part of our lives as we get older. As we live as adults, we’ve done and seen so much in our lives that discovery is more difficult. This may be what causes us to seek out new adventures even while craving the comfortable and mundane.
Yesterday I went outside to make sure the chicken waterer was full. As I stepped into the yard, the heady aroma of my blooming lilac bush drew me. I buried my face into the purple flowers enjoying a wonderful moment of aromatherapy. Then something bumped my leg. I looked down to discover Rusty (the chicken we’ve had the longest) jumping up and trying to grab the flowers. I reached out and pulled some of the purple flowers from the bush. Dividing them up, she quickly gobbled them down. Not to be neglected, all the other “girls” came running to see what treat I had for them. I laughed as they pulled the simple flowers from my hand. Lilac flowers—tasty? I put a bit in my mouth—not good, not bad. More discovery. The entire episode probably lasted less than five minutes. But in those five minutes were discovery and delight.
Creating a havenstead should bring delight as well as discovery in simple things. Here are some discoveries that I’ve recently enjoyed.
1. Hearing crickets. Now that may seem silly but when we first moved in, bugs were few and far between. Using permaculture I’ve created lots of places for bugs to hang out. Since then, I’ve begun to see and hear more and more insects, birds and small animals in our yard. I’ve discovered that seeing and hearing life is an important benefit to me.
2. Watching bees drink. We have two hives—a Langstroth and a top bar hive. In our front yard the edge of our bird bath is often crowded with bees taking their drinks like kids used to line up at playground fountains. Discovering them crowding around the water still is so fun to watch.
3. Spying a hummingbird. Planting comfrey is a great attractor of hummingbirds. Placing plants that attract bees, butterflies and birds in a place where you can easily see them leads to many wonderful discoveries, like they can get very territorial with other hummingbirds.
4. Coming eye to eye with a chicken. My poor old Barred Rock was in need of a manicure. While all the other chickens were doing great in the feet and nail department, her nails were starting to curl. She also had a mite infection in her feet. After my daughter clipped her toenails, I applied an ointment to her feet. She never took her eyes off me as if she were trying to figure me out as much as I was doing to the same to her.
5. Becoming the Pied Piper. If I go into the second yard (our yard is divided in thirds by fencing—dog area/back yard, chicken area/side yard and garden area/upper backyard), the chickens will invariably follow me. Even though I have nothing in my hands, it doesn’t matter. They want to be where I am and so I do crazy eights across the yard, and laugh while they follow me. In this game, I’ve discovered I get to be queen of my havenstead with all my “subjects” dutifully following behind me.
6. Discovering the first spring asparagus spear. I’m excited when I see the perennials came back. Nothing gladdens a permaculturalist heart then having food spring up on its own after planting it one time. The strawberries are also getting ready to take off, no worse the wear for the recent pounding they got from the terrible hail storm. What delight!
7. The first miller moth sighting. Nothing is more difficult to keep outdoors than pesky miller moths. The next month will prove trying. On the good side, my “girls” are thrilled. They wait right outside the back door. In the morning when my hubs opens the door, the moths who have taken shelter in the crevices of the door are then breakfast for delighted chickens.
These are very simple things. Yet, they bring delight in every day chores and the simple life of creating a havenstead.
What did you discover today? What is your delight?