The morning circle huddles together, like penguins against the icy cold wind. People are cold and tired – the winter is tough when you live and work outside. Someone asks in circle why we are still meeting outside, when people are unwell, and the weather is hostile. Surely this is an example of when a ritual behaviour begins to negate the original purpose of the ritual itself? Pre-occupied with the cold, people become more withdrawn, less connected. But is this also about accepting what is, and not fighting against the cold? In my experience, there is often a lack of attention given to people’s comfort and wellbeing both in communities and in the workplace… My question, is how can we have a healthy, happy community and environment, if we do not have healthy happy people? Again, the permaculture principles can be a beacon for us – fair share, earth care, people care.
A group of us gathers in Centre fire to craft baskets for harvesting from the gardens. Willow has been harvested from the land, and we learn to weave it together to create our own, unique baskets. It feels wonderful to be learning a new and applicable skill, and to be using materials grown directly from this land, to create something to be used on this land. It is a fiddly job, especially when the willow isn’t wet enough – it snaps! It is a test of patience and co-ordination, we don’t quite finish by the end of the day.
That evening, a huge Indian banquet is held in farewell to the Warburtons who are leaving after nearly 6 months at Embercombe. After 9 years of moving around in their caravan, they have decided to settle with the Land Matters Community near Totnes. By (not so) strange co-incidence, this was the place we wanted to visit next, on our way to Schumacher. They will head there this weekend, and we will join them.
Over 25 of us gather for a feast of curry, pakoras, chapattis and rice, followed by cardamom polenta cake. Warm and wonderful words are shared, and a fond farewell is given to The Warburtons, who have clearly entertained and inspired the folk of Embercombe in their time here. Their attitude to life is brave and bold, and an incredible example of life, love and family in its most vital form. It is enough to sooth any fears that Pete and I might have about having children, and the pressure to conform. There is a fertile space for family outside the restrictive, soul-snatching parameters of our dominant cultural story. There is choice.