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
- 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
- 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
- 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!