A Year of Living Naturally

OK, Children of Nature, it’s time! I’ve been preparing for your arrival, and on this eve of 2020, I’m so very happy you are here. Classes start tomorrow at “The Farm on Mull River” on U’nama’kik/Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada!

Throw on a pair of old rubber boots, zip up a warm jacket, gather your wits and whimsy and meet me at the old plum tree along the upper driveway; the one that remains. I will tell you how I came to be here in this classroom, and that plum tree will help me tell the story.

This farm-retreat-teaching centre is Mother Nature’s classroom. Were kicking’ it old-school, where kids of all ages and abilities (and sometimes, inabilities!) learn from each other under a common roof – the sky. We have so much to learn and no time to waste, so let’s get at it.

Your instructors are world class, and include (but are not limited to) red squirrels, bald eagles, owls, coyote, deer, beaver and countless members of a vast mushroom kingdom. Weather will make presentations on occasion, although (as of yet) I have been unable to entice them to provide their workshop schedules. By the time this year passes through our fingers, we will see ourselves in the trees and know ourselves in the stars.

We will use all our senses; practicing active curiosity in the presence of the basic elements: water, fire, earth and air. A sub-terranian network of roots will be our internet; the forest pathways (used by deer and coyote) our search engine. We will browse pond-scum and save bird calls. Together, we will learn about the Nature of Things on our bellies, in the meadow or peering into the river. There’s no cell service down here, but if your curiosity is at one bar or more, there’s a good chance you will be able to pick up what Mother Nature is laying down.

Along our shared journey, we will sip from the deep, cool living waters of local folklore, traditional teachings, experiential wisdom and storytelling. We will learn from our neighbours- all species- and each other.

2020 will be our “Year of Living Naturally”. And it doesn’t matter one iota if you currently live in a high-rise apartment in Toronto or Winnipeg or New York City. Most lasting change happens first in the heart, and then in the imagination. You want to get closer to nature? Close your eyes and dream it with me.

Here’s what the classes looks like, followed by keywords I will use to help you find what interests you most. You can attend part or full time. Or just drop in once in a while and audit a class for fun.

  • Found at the Farm: Play along as we identify and better understand the wide variety of plant, insect, bird, animal and fungi life at the farm. There are no experts on site, so it will be a meandering discovery! #foundatthefarm
What the HECK???!!! A purple mushroom!! #foundatthefarm
That might just be a “Amethyst Laccaria!”
  • A Year of Eating Locally: I’m giving up groceries for a whole year and exploring what it means to eat only food grown, foraged or raised on Cape Breton Island (with an occasional staple sourced from mainland Nova Scotia) Follow this thread to read about what it looks like to “Eat CB Style” ! #eatlocalcapebreton and #foragecapebreton
wild blackberries in abundance in the old meadow
  • Making Do: Learning to make things from “scratch” and do things with our very own hands. Follow this for a year of exploring what it means to be resourceful, and satisfied with less “stuff”. #makingdo
building a boardwalk out of old pallets and wood “seconds”
  • Wholehearted Living: Explore the emotional and spiritual aspects of living close to Nature. There is a church in this story – a beautiful historic church you will meet a little later – no longer actively connected to a particular religion but a tall, strong, beautiful reminder in this small community that we humans have an innate need, and perhaps even responsibility, to gather together in contemplation and action around things that are important to our collective well-being. We need each other. #wholeheartedliving
  • Putting Away. Join us as we learn to grow, prepare and preserve the foods we plant at the farm. Taking care of ourselves – becoming more self-reliant and “productive” is no easy task but we hope to de-mystify the work of feeding ourselves! #puttingaway

The Earth needs us, and we need each other, so let’s get to work. The bell rings at dawn tomorrow; see you at the plum tree!

25 thoughts on “A Year of Living Naturally

  1. Life for me has been crazy this last year so I’m just now getting to see all your posts! Expecting to see a Van trip in the works, how wonderful to see you are creating such a beautiful place for folks to visit, explore and learn. Yet also create with what ever creative talents they have. My art has not progressed this year much do to moves and downsizing and my hubbies health issues. But I find myself again so very interested in your journey to Mother Nature/Mother Earth and all that helps keep her healthy! Bravo to you!!!! Although the artist in me wants to know your still drawing! I’m pouring a second Cuppa and on to your next post! Yay!!


  2. Oh, Kit, your posts and life on the farm always make me jumping up and down happy, and you inspire me to live more gently & nimbly and see things with fresh eyes. Last year I put a wider gate in my fence so Robbie-dog & I can welcome van sisters to stop and circle up in my backyard in Georgia in our cooler months. Robbie & I are headed to Nova Scotia to be out of the southern heat. We will launch sometime in April and wander up through national forests west of the Appalachians. In the meantime, I have moved and expanded compost bins, made new local women friends with copacetic frames of mind, bought paint for the kitchen counter in the van, and am plotting stops on my route north. Imagining us on The Circle and foraging with you really keeps my juices flowing!! Thank you for sharing your life with us. With such beauty we go well into the healing of our world.


    1. Oh my dear Katiemac, its so good to see you! And you inspire me to get a wider rig, so as to make darn good use of your generous new gate in Georgia! As the time gets closer, and you have a sense of timing for the Cape Breton chapter of your story, do touch base with me and I can ensure we reserve a spot for you and Robbie. What a delightful plan!


  3. kit I’ll join you and eat everything I have in my fridge and cupboard before shopping again. believe me this should last at least a month. once gone I’ll source locally grown food too. much success to us both. sally

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Will you REALLY??? Thats so exciting! I’m doing exactly that… I think I may have a bit more of a food hoard than you do (I’m quite sure I could live for three months!) but I bought a lot of bulk food this past summer when we had helpers here at the farm, and much was left. But still, after a month, the basics one “craves” or thinks they cant do without will be gone… this is going to be SO MUCH FUN!!
      Please comment often, I will so enjoy (as will others) hearing how it is going. I have already TWICE pulled into the Freshmart to pick a little this or that up… and then realized I was ALREADY ready to go off course! But I’m really really going to work at this faithfully. I took out my garbage and recycling today… Ill have to write a post about that… phew. Things gotta change. Thanks for having fun with me! Where are you located? How is the food availability near you?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Happy New Year Kit

    Thank you for your inspiring posts throughout the year. I find that I pay much more attention to my natural surroundings since you moved to CB and began sharing your farm stories. I have always loved the outdoors but I must admit I did take my daily walk in the woods a little bit for granted. Now I notice small things. I notice trees. Even mushrooms!

    Heather and Renee will be in Florida in February and Gail Duncan is here all winter so we are planning for a Sunshine State get-together. I am hoping we are able to swing it. It would be so good to see them. I am grateful for your bringing the sisterhood of Ontario vanpals together in Belleville two years ago. Such a wonderful group of women. Always together in spirit.

    Love, light and many blessings to you and yours in the coming year.


    1. Hello Lin and a very very happy new year to you! A sunshine state get-together sounds AMAZING. You know, it would only be a two day drive for me to get there … hehehe… but then who would take care of the… LAMBS! 😉 I hope it happens for you all. That little meeting led to many lasting friendships, which is sort of what it is all about. Always together in spirit 🙂 Love hearing from you XO


      1. Kit,

        You shouldn’t have said that!! If plans firm up I am going to let you know the details. Because…who knows…right?? I’m sure there must be lambsitters in that lovely little community of yours!


  5. Hi Kit – happy New Year. I love following along on your journey. I always feel like you’re saying TO ME “you got to see this”. And you are my friend of delight, like ice cream 😊! Bless you


      1. Kit, as I read this “I LOVE ICE CREAM!” and I saw your pick of blackberries, I could see a numnum homemade ice cream blogg coming to be. Are you feelin’ it? Glad to have been introduced to your #ThisWholeHeartedLife offering…MORE PLEASE…I am along the journey between you and your Ontario road trip and would love to meet you in person. In the meantime, I am Blogg Stalking you…hehehe


      2. Welcome Lady Dianne, and I’m happy you were able to track me down 😉
        Funny you should mention about ice-cream – my daughter often talks about wanting to do that, using foraged and local foods, and unusual (And facinating-yummy herb combinations. Maybe one day we will! Stalk on, LD! HAHAHA. Thanks for writing!


  6. I love the spirit and inclusiveness of this wonderful message. Wishing you all good things in 2020. You truly are creating a whole hearted life 💕👏Bravo


  7. Hi Kit,
    This all sounds wonderful and a wise choice to appeal to peoples sense of curiouity and adventure using technolovy lingo…..the very thing that draws folks away from nature and handson discovery. Im excited to follow along to dicover the nature in and around the farm….and hopeful that some of tve info will be useful in my outdoor ed classes I do in kindergarten here in Ontario.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Wendy, its SO good to read your message. Tackling the role of technology in our lives is a subject very near and dear to my heart. Where in Ontario you are? I so worry that children are not spending time outdoors. We need hundreds of you, taking them out into the forests! But we can’t address childhood issues until we first figure out our OWN relationship to being constantly “plugged in” … I look forward to your insights, please share observations. I will look forward to them. All the best in 2020!


      1. Hi Kit,
        The outdoor ed classes are held in a tiny community called Coldstream..the school is across the road from a conservation area with a creek running through and a boardwalk going through a bog. There is even a yodas hut made out of a giant overturned cedar root. We are lucky enough to have an outdoor classroom with native plantings and log benches….as well as a raised bed garden with birdfeeders that we can see from the classroom window. This fall the children nailed together and handpainted a wooden birdhouse as well as comparing the longevity of one we built of sticks. We experienced the loss of a beloved class tree this year which was also a teachable moment. The children also made tree faces with natural clay that they formed and stuck to the trees. We have been lucky enough to do tree planting in the playyard this year as well as having some natural play items added to our new playground. I feel that by immersing the children in nature we will arouse their natural curiosity and inspire them to care, cherish and be the protectors of nature in the future. Nature is the educator and we are the facilitors of learning for the children.

        Liked by 1 person

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