Out in the canyon, my newly acquired 1/2 acre parcel of land, on a south-facing slope, located in a gully, downhill from the Rocky Mountain snowmelt, was overgrown and suffering from years of neglect. After observing the landscape over the winter, I noticed that the Cottonwood and Aspen trees on the homestead were dying.
Perhaps it was due to when the subdivision was being excavated, but the disjointed property (from the contour) was victim to an excessive underground water table. The soil's substrate was bereft of life. What remained was rocky, hard-crusted clay.
The mature Aspen groove, sharing a unified root structure, seemed strong and intact if it weren’t for the pestilence and disease covering it. The trunks showed signs of black, oozing, seeping sores, and dark lichen clung to the silvery white bark as deer ticks do to the skin. On the ground around the Aspens, there were depressions. Sunken swales where the plundering had occurred. These cavities were filthy, dish sponge marshes, good for growing very little. There were other signs of infestation…like thickets of thorny shrubs claiming the space with gnarly branches -dirty, poky fingers of beggars reaching out for your spare change. In other areas were green patches of posh, pillowy moss that alluded to making promises of better days yet to come, Priestly Promises of better days yet to come.
There was so much decay that I too seemed to fall ill in the gloom of its malady. So it was decided then and there to take up arms. Bolstered against March's icy winds and rains, I clad myself in boots, gloves goggles, and overalls. And with brushcutter in hand, I began a deluge of my own, restoring health and vitality back to the land.
Weeks of. pickaxing -skeletons, to shovel away lost bones (unearthing remnants of rusty nails, bottles, cables, and cans) I cleared the air. Continuing to backfill holes and lay down mulch, layer upon layer. Compost to the garden. Spraying trees disease with vinegar and organic fertilizer; leaf and branch and trunk and root. As new soil beneath began to grow gradually the land seemed to flow less like a river and more like a meadow. The warm sun baked the oozing black wounds into thick scabs of bark. New fruit and nut trees were planted atop hugelkulture mounds of composted mulch. That’s black, mycelium-laced, sweet-smelling dank mulch -of which I had gleaned for free from a vacant lot where a local arborist tree service dumped their wood chips. Finally, under the canopy of Douglas firs, I planted a permaculture food forest, tiered in seven layers with a myriad of berries, flowers, herbs, and grasses. Bringing other signs of abundance like hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies. Even more, morel mushroom spores, already native to the area were planted in the woods bordering the property.
So you see, stewarding the ecological environment had helped me to grow too. Because the garden and I held hands to patiently learn what Balance is. Homesteading in the 21st Century.
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