A Work Against Nature

Quick Summary of WWDT (what we did today)

Rob and the WWOOFers spent the day maintenance spraying (a vaporguard cocktail spray frost protection, metabolism improvement, fertilizer) while Pete, the Digger-Man, did some digging. What is he digging, you ask? The foundation for the new barn and beautifying the terrain for the coming parkland, all under the vigilant eye of his chocolate lab, Chopper. 

The Originals, a Rhododendron Cave and… Voila!

While spraying, Marian discovered the tunnel through the rhododendrons. “Wow! Awesome! It was epic, another world…” It resembles a hobbit hut, a secret garden, a living cabin. Go through the hole across a wonky bridge, following the winding track along the redwood saplings, past the watercress patch, over a rocky ford, beyond the giant sequoia off the main road. It was the biggest mound of Rhododendrons Sandra had ever seen…. But how many Rhododendron Caves have you really seen?

Sandra also discovered one has to let off the hand brake when driving the quad bike, and also not to pull on the lateral too hard or it will snap. Voila! As it did today.

And during spraying, Sandra pulled weeds out of the tree protector by kneeling down with the spray pack on, and then, “oh goodness, I can’t get up now.” Those things are heavy.

We all learned not to ask Rob what time it is. He is in a different time and space anyway.

Back at the Commons, Rob couldn’t remember the name of the new large mountain beech tree that stands out front. Marian recommended we call it “Karl” but Sandra told us over dinner her mechanic, also named Karl, had not yet procured the parts for her car, promised days, maybe weeks ago, and now it was time to just get her money back. Megan’s dad had dealt with the same guy and had the same experience and same intent of a refund, though it never happened. We decided not to call our tree “Karl.”

Megan’s one of The Originals (with a nod to Vampire Diaries – no, not really). She’s the botanist who helped identify many of trees on the property and was here in 2008 planting that run of natives.

Counting the Dead

Sandra and Marian walked the laterals, black snakes winding under and over the grass, counting the dead trees to be ordered and replaced. Counting involves waking back and forth, looking down at your feet, staring at a dark line on the ground that is at best only partially visible. Try it. In a matter of minutes, you lose all track of where you are, the day, the hour, even your own name. Sandra did. She needed to go to the kettle, which was north and walked with complete confidence south. No, it wasn’t there, not if she had walked all the way to the fence, to the paddock beyond, to the mountains on the horizon, even to China. Sandra and Marian will dream of the dark snakes tonight and of north for south and maybe a few weed mats and pins. “Which I did last night!!” Marian told us. “I was pinning and walking and then woke in a cold sweat – ‘My god, I’ve missed a weed mat!'”

Sad-Eyed Chopper

Chopper got in trouble today. (Chopper picture here – he’s a chocolate lab, not a chocolate slab – “Darn” Sandra said.) Pete the Digger-Man left the door of his ute’s cab open for a minute and Chopper jumped in with dirty feet. Mud all over both brand new cloth upholstered seats. Pete turned into Eve when we don’t follow the “Crock Protocol,” created by German woofers from the turn of the century. Two white bins, one with Crocs and one with gumboots. Take off your boots and put them in the latter and put on Crocs from the former, before you walk on the clean gravel, and for God’s sake before you trudge onto the deck! Dirty socks on the clean polyurethaned floor will incur the wrath of Eve, mirroring Pete’s flame at poor little sad-eyed Chopper.

In Which We Work Against Nature

We spoke today of what we are doing as a work against nature, but it’s not really, it just starts out that way. You see, we’re planting native plants where they usually don’t grow -out in the open. They like it in light wells or right under the drip line at the edge of the forest. Out in the open they’re hit by the frosts, nailing their new growth. But if they survive, they form a new forest and far far far outrun the natural expansion, which would be one meter per decade. We’re talking here 500 meters in that time. So in the end it dovetails with nature’s intent, and becomes a work with nature, not against.

The alchemists called what they were doing a work against nature as well, an “opus contra naturam.” But theirs was also, in the end, a work ultimately synergistic with nature, for though many thought they were only trying to produce gold from lead, this, scholars are now convinced, was simply a cover for a much deeper work involving the evolution of human consciousness, a means of integrating the imagination with the intellect. More on that later.

“There are more entries to come” Marian said. “Stop blogging and make the coffee,” Sandra chided. Okay, enough for tonight.

Boring List of What We Did Today

We finished the vaporguard cocktail spray of the one-year-old trees, all the redwood zones, weed spraying zone 5, and partial weed spray of the redwoods. Pete moved the toolshed container, worked on the barn platform, lowered the unnecessary ridges of dirt (called “bunds”) in the yard, buried the bore tank supply, finished the new culvert in the entrance, lowered the bank blocking the waterfall view, and buried the big tree trunk in the entrance.

Weather: Big frost 3rd night in a row. Sunny and warm – t-shirts – in the mid-morning and then a bit breezy in the afternoon.

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