I live on Harmony Farm where we’ve been gardening organically, raising chickens and sheep, and connecting with nature for over 30 years. In my early years of living on this land, I became enamored with living a natural life-style.
We aimed to grow as much of our food as possible. Our chickens produced eggs. The gardens blessed us with garlic, greens, herbs, strawberries, tomatoes, squash, and many other gifts. I learned to freeze vegetables and make jams without using sugar. During winter months, we also ate potatoes and carrots from our cold storage room in the cellar.
Gardening organically and living in tune with the seasons became my personal mantra. During the heat of summer months we ate more cooling raw foods (salads and fruit), and in winter turned to heavier stews and soups. I also listened to my body as it cycled through the seasons, sleeping more during winter and less during summer.
While our dream of living in harmony with nature was becoming a reality, we were also part of another world, society – living in it, working in it, enjoying it. In some ways we kept our two worlds separate, leaving one to enter the other, but they also overlapped, and I felt torn between them.
As much as I loved nature, I felt unfaithful and disloyal, for I also appreciated the comforts and conveniences of modern life. My food processor was a blessing in the kitchen, along with the blender, grain mill and juicer. And while I savored taking peaceful walks, I also fancied the feel of driving a high performance car, one that enabled me to feel my way along the road, sensing each turn. As much as I enjoyed gardening, it hadn’t replaced going to movies, plays, symphonies, and eating out.
I felt torn, fragmented, pulled in two directions. One of my feet was firmly planted in the earth, feeling her cycles and rhythms. My other foot was speeding along America’s highways, which favored the straight, narrow path of logical, mechanistic thinking. I wasn’t comfortable with these disparities and kept thinking that I had to choose between different worlds – that truly valuing nature meant renouncing culture and its technological advances.
I was suffering from our society’s disease of either / or thinking. Though nature had been showing me how she weaves parts into wholes, I’d been seeing the parts and overlooking the whole. Either / or thinking was the culprit to banish from my life, not the machines that made it easier, enriched it.
After coming to this realization 25 years ago, my learning from nature intensified. I began looking toward living a whole life, not subtracting from it, and experiencing how interconnecting creates wholeness.