Permaculture: A Challenge

I stumbled upon an Alaska “permaculture” group last winter while researching arctic gardening tactics for spring. My first thought was…”um, you people are nuts!” bookmarked it and I moved on.

Visions of communal villages made from straw and steer manure with people huddled around a fire were dancing around in my head. Alaskan sensibility is screaming…”they’ll freeze their fannies off…what are they thinking? Those are the people you’ll read about in the newspaper.”

Well…January in Alaska is a VERY dark and lonely month. My husband works out of town a lot, so my evenings are often deathly quiet after “bedtime.”

What’s a girl to do with so much time on her hands?

Weeks later, I clicked on the link back to the website…I was DESPERATE!! I was searching for anyone I could have an in depth conversation with about advanced organic gardening.

My defenses were down I tell ya!! I swear!!

Most of my friends who are into growing things invest in an economy-sized box of Miracle Grow, turn their water blue and they’re good to go for the summer. However, early on, I read Teaming with Microbes and it made logical sense to me.  And being the person who escorts spiders back outside; I can’t do it.

The page blinked on and I read…and read, then…

I JOINED THE FORUM!!

I couldn’t help it, I tell ya, and the things people were doing with dirt…it was amazing!

I continued to “lurk,” finally setting up a profile…but that was it. For information and experience purposes only; I kept telling myself. It was on my computer, no one had to know. Right?

Until the night I discovered a Valley group was forming. The meetings set…on Sundays, twice a month, at 7PM. I was actually checking my calendar.

***husband out of town, he would never have to know***

Oh crap, here we go!! I was hooked! Do they make 12 step-programs for extremists?

I remember the night specifically, I was cooking dinner for the kids, my husband wasn’t home and I was lonely for adult interaction. Yeah, that’s it. We’ll go with that one.

I was trying to talk myself out of going. I HATE GOING TO THINGS BY MYSELF! Especially something like this, I’ll probably stick out like a sore thumb. Remember; true wallflower here!

But my inner bully was screaming…**Just go you IDIOT! If you don’t, you’re going to be stuck in this house all winter. By spring, they’re going to find you BRAIN DEAD and mothering on auto-pilot!**

So I went…me and my ginormous jacked up diesel, which you can hear coming a half mile away. Yay.

Walking into the room, I did get that intense stare, like the stage lights just spotted me. Faces around the room looked worried:  **Oh no…Stranger danger, Stranger danger!!**

I AM NOT KIDDING.

For a person ready to bolt, I forced myself to try to find a happy little seat SAFE BY THE DOOR! Right? First problem, the meeting was in a yurt, the chairs arranged in a circle two rows deep…..no huddling in a dark back corner for me.

 ** My face is red, I’m desperately trying not to laugh in hysterics, my skin is tingling, my chest is tight…panic**

Out of the silence, the gal in the center of the ring suggests I grab a seat up front.

***OH! Yay, front and center!… I’m going to freaking pass out, I tell ya!***

***FINE!!***

I flipped the switch…

***”Suck it up, Nancy!!!*** my inner bully chastised me.

I drop my bag right next to her and, I assume, her husband and I dug in.

***Sit me front and center, I’ll show you, you’ll be lucky if I don’t take over the meeting***

(I see a multiple personality disorder diagnosis in my future…LOL)

Since it’s January, the topic for the evening is “Seeds” We discuss everything from starting, germination schedules, challenges of dirt, favorite varieties, types of lighting, heat/no heat, fertilizers, extending the growing season…and I threw down with the rest of them.  I caught a few looks of surprise from some faces when they discovered I knew what in the hell I was talking about.

***I can hang, damn it, I wore my “Jesus Sneakers” and everything***

Yes, it was January…and no, I didn’t go so far are to wear wool socks with them.

The hour passed and I survived. The evening ended with smiles, ‘nice to meet you,’ and we’ll see you at the next meeting right? I was still apprehensive, but relieved…happy and confused.  I met really nice people on both ends of the “greenie” spectrum; on one end, a gal just starting her own seeds this year and on the other, people composting their own human waste…commonly referred to as “humanure.” Apparently, it’s been a public practice in some places and has been going on for years.

Interesting, but not my style, however, it is literally reverting to an outhouse-style waste disposal system. Your cute little outhouse at your beautiful cabin in B.F.E…. with proper care should never have to be dugout or moved. YUCK! Everyone’s seen the commercial for that trusty box of microbes to put down your flush toilet to save on pumping your septic; part of the same concept.

Any who…the meetings are engaging; the members are very community orientated, which is part of the basic definition of permaculture and it’s a fit for me…the closet “permaculturist,” I guess.

Sue me….I’m a nut.

After reading an article in Organic Gardening Magazine (published by the Rodale Institute, which has been around for over 100 years) I realized most Alaskans are already halfway there.

Read it…you’ll see.

Note to my 5 regular readers…I will be on a hunting trip for the next few weeks, so if I disappear forever you know I’ve permanently communed with nature.

JUST KIDDING!!!  :o)

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