Three weeks of scribbling notes, while trying to figure out the ins and outs of growing grapes in pre industrial societies from the Rhone Valley in Switzerland to the Mosel in Germany, have given me many insights. Tonight’s musings, though, are on the writing front. With thirty-seven years and twenty-seven books behind me in the writing game, and now that the world has turned itself on its head, it’s time, I think, to come clean. I believe in the Earth. There, I’ve said it. I might be the only writer in Canada, or anywhere, for that matter, who learned poetry by pruning apple trees, but it’s true. I’ve been given a gift, and I want to pass it on now that the old order is changing and the older order, that was given to me, is needed again. Before I came to Europe a few weeks ago, I thought that the new writing would be agriculturally-based and a form of writing that stood within the ancient spiritual tradition of agriculture. But then I visited the poet Rainer Maria Rilke’s grave in Raron and his house in Muzot, and I had the wind knocked out of me, because I realized that all that poetry still matters, very deeply.
Sitting Down With Rilke in Muzot
This house is private now, and no entrance is given, but nothing in the terrace here has been changed since Rilke’s time. You can see that I was granted a special favour. I was deeply moved.
This is now how I think the writing school I want to start in the fall might look. I have in mind a kind of writing, as you’ve seen on this blog from time to time, that reads the earth, incorporates history and body knowledge, and leads to renewed social connections. Tonight, I’m calling it “Earth Scripting”. It’s a form of Eco-cultural writing that embraces eco-agricultural writing, post textual writing, and word craft, or, in other words, words for the earth, from the tradition of working with the earth, and with reference to the deep, physical and spiritual roots of language. Look for more in the weeks ahead. Until then, here’s an example, of where I hope to go…
No reading of Rilke’s poetry will succeed without a visit here, to his Canton of Valais in the Swiss Rhone Valley. Rilke was the bridge between two different ages of the spirit. The bridge remains open, and one can walk both ways, just as he did.
You’ve heard of the 100 Mile Diet, the notion that if all human food could come from ground or water at a distance of less than 100 miles from where it is eaten, petroleum consumption would plummet, small farming would flourish, community would be re-woven, and food would be fresher and healthier? Yes? Well, why stop there? Why not the Zero Mile Diet? Heck, why not the Two Inch Diet? No more harvesting those veggies, trucking them to the packing plant, washing them, sorting them, packing them, storing them, shipping them, unpacking them, sorting them, knocking them around for a few days on the shelf, sorting them again, the sorting of that, and then the repacking of them into plastic, the hauling them home, the stocking of the fridge, the preparation of dinner, and the eventual disposal of the stuff that went EeeYeeWww in the back of the bottom fridge drawer and the packing of some of the bruised stuff up for the food bank folks at the back door. Imagine instead: you just are lying there inside your fridge, you reach over and pull a carrot towards you, you nibble, and you’re done. There’s not even any mess. Sound weird? Not at all. It goes on every day …
Alfalfa Plant with Resident California Pocket Gopher
Bonus! Look at all that nice fertilized soil, all light and fluffy, for the alfalfa to seed itself into. This pair might be immigrants, one from California and one from Turkey, but look at how they’re getting along in their new home! And all of it is done in a nice cozy little underground world.
Now, how is that any different from this gardening plot? I mean, they’re both outside of Kansas…
Extreme Public Garden
International Space Station source
You bet the boys up there are growing stuff, although to date they have packed it all up and brought it back to earthside labs to see if it is edible or what. It is. And if we looked inside, what then? Aha! Just like gophers, all cozy and at home…
A Crop of Lettuce Just Loving It
Note the mirror, so astronauts can shave themselves while tending their sandwich fixings. Or something. Hey, you use your space as well as you can, right? Source
Well, OK, cozy by astronaut standards has some rough edges, but the boys like it like that. And just like the astronauts, gophers are floating through space. So are we. Industrial agriculture, family farms, Victory gardens, market gardens, organic gardens, permaculture gardens, wild gardens, aboriginal gardens, kitchen gardens, urban agriculture, the works, it’s all out there in the UV zone, but what about taking it into the house? What about living with our food?
Note: I’ll be silent for a day as a transition across the Atlantic and North America, back to the Okanagan Okanogan. Be well.