Ihop, alltid, jämt, ständigt ihop.

Det här med att resa med sin partner, att sova ihop, vakna ihop, äta frukost ihop, klättra, surfa, vandra, wwoofa eller göra någonting annat ihop, äta lunch ihop, äta middag ihop, hitta på något på lediga dagar och kvällar ihop, somna ihop – det är en väldans massa tid, IHOP.

IMG_5910

Jag och Tim lever hela tiden på och runt varandra under resan, och det går bra, det går till och med över förväntan. Jag trodde att jag skulle få spel och vara tvungen att säga hej svejs i en vecka då och då och klampa iväg för att få tid för mig själv, men hittills har det räckt med ett par dagar eller ett dygn mol alena för att sedan känna att jag saknar min andra hälft. Det är ett bra betyg för en relation det!

Jag tror att om vi hade rest på samma sätt för ett par tre år sedan så hade det varit svårare, men nu har vi ändå varit tillsammans i hela sex år och vi har stött och blött alla små vardagskonflikter redan innan vi for iväg. Vi har så mycket mer tålamod med varandra nu än i början, och det gör en jädrans stor skillnad för kvalitén på den här resan. Istället för att snäsa av varandra eller tycka att den andre är klumpig, klantig eller gör något dumt har vi båda ett par sekunders omedveten betänketid inlagd vilket gör att vi oftast hinner vända tanken från ”klantskalle” till ”stackare” när den andre spiller ut kaffe eller glömde köpa ägg eller missar att tvätta ens strumpor i tvätt-o-maten…

Vi har alltså blivit väldigt bra på vardag ihop! Det får en ju inte möjlighet till på samma vis hemma, där 8-9 timmar är arbetstid, plus resa till och från jobb, och sedan är det någon sorts fritidsaktivitet vilket vi i och för sig ofta gör ihop – ex klättrar – men ändå. Säg att vi en vanlig vecka á 7x24h=168h delar upp dagarna på:

  • Sömn, 7h
  • Jobba plus ta sig till/från jobbet, 10h
  • Laga och äta mat, 2h
  • Leka, 3h
  • Fixa och dona hemma, 2h

==> Max 7h om dagen i tillsammanstid. Jämför det med att vi nu alltid hinner sova 8h per natt men därefter umgås i princip alla andra timmar på dygnet, et voilá, 7h vs 16h är rätt stor skillnad.

Jo, vi har ju också tagit bort den allra mesta vardagsstressen genom att vara på resande fot. Det är ytterst få mail som ska besvaras eller samtal som ska ringas. Vi har inga släktingar att besöka och bara några få vänner som vi bestämmer något med utmed resan. Inga deadlines, inga riktiga måsten.

Haha! Living the good life!

IMG_8520

 

 

Climbing in the Bugaboos

IMG_8128

Bugaboos. Bugaboos! Granite spires in all directions. Glaciers melting into streams. Frozen lakes and thawing ones. People dressed in colorful outdoor gear with helmet compatible hoods and crampons dangling in their hands as they come back into camp. Toilet huts built on site from granite blocks, with a view of the Bugaboo spire itself. Small patches of grass and slow growing green cushions flowering with purple, red and white beauties.

It’s magic. I didn’t know much before we came up here, not about the size of it not the natural splendor. It’s so freakin beautiful! I thought, granite – I like climbing granite. Mountains – I like climbing mountains. I love the view, the bird perspective, the far away from everything feeling and the fact that you can only trust yourself and your partner to stay alive. We are climbing safely, but the days are long ones, with approaches, climbs and rappels leading us into 8-15 hour adventures. Active days. Full on days.

IMG_7325
Climbers descending the col at night, with Snowpatch on the left and Bugaboo on the right.

Beep, beep, beep! 5 or 6 AM, not super early but still early… We eat porridge and drink coffee in the morning, pack our gear, water and snacks: Nuts, bars, boiled eggs, carrots, then head into the alpine environment to practice mountaineering. Trudging up the steep snow to the col between Bugaboo and Snowpatch takes us about an hour, then we keep on walking over the glacier to the beginning of our chosen route. Gearing up with harnesses, ropes and trad racks, stashing crampons and ice axes for the return, or packing them to go. The person on the sharp end of the rope begins the ascent of the first pitch and the rock climbing is on. Through cracks, flakes, blocks and slabs we go, up, up and away.

Ah! It’s good to be here, amongst silent rock giants and moaning glaciers, with people whom you appreciate and love. The hours pass without us noticing. Already 3PM? Huh. We climb on. Some days we’re back at 6PM, some at 9PM. We boil water and eat freeze dried food. Devour it, hungry after many hours of pushing ourselves mentally and physically. Our tents stand on a hard granite surface at the Appelbee Dome camping. When the chit chat and planning for the next day slows down we brush our teeth and crawl into our sleeping bags, hide from the wind inside the thin tent walls. The camping is a silent one, most people wanting to go to sleep early and rest well before the next day’s undertaking.

IMG_7318

There’s a mental simplicity underlining the time spent up here. There are no cafés to go to, no food to shop for, nowhere to drive, no computer screen telling the state of the world. When we are up here, we are separated from the normal everyday life. It makes a difference even for us, Tim and I, who for now are living like nomads. Though it can be straining to be up here, to carry those 35 kilos on our backs when walking in and to push up to summits 3000 meters high most days, the simplicity balances the effort made.

Then comes a resting day. No alarm goes of. When the sun hits the tent it gets to warm in the down sleeping bag and we crawl out. Get water. Boil it. Make coffee. Stretch. Eat. Swim. Talk about stuff, life, adventures, getting older. We’re still looking for what to do with our lives. Acknowledge that this is a pretty good way of spending a week. It feels longer, with a string of new strong memories binding each moment together. This place, magic.

IMG_7356

IMG_7343

IMG_7342For me, still struggling to fully get back from my knee injury, these days have made me smile. A lot. I could walk uphill for 4,5 km, gaining 950 meters of altitude, with a stupidly heavy backpack on my shoulders – and the knee felt good!

I could hike up the col with crampons and axe, walk the glacier, then simulclimb the Westridge to the Pigeon Spire and reverse the whole thing – and the knee still felt good!

I could hike up to the foot of the Crescent Spires, lead a 5.6 called Lions Way, scramble down a scree-turn-to-snow-slope – and the knee was not even on my mind!

I could climb an 8 pitch 5.9 called Wildflowers and really go for it as a team together with Tim, leading every second pitch. Most memorable was leading the last, strange 5.9 to just below the summit, stemming and pinching and jamming my way up flaky grooves, slowly formed through endless weathering of the hard granite. I lost my way in all the different flared cracks. It turned into a 5.10. Still, I pulled myself together and got through. Proud, thirsty and tired. And guess what, the knee still felt bomber.

If I would ever get injured again, I’d do the same thing. Rehab. Hang in there. Then get back into nature ASAP and let it work it’s magic. It’s been nearly a year and a half since I did my ACL surgery, another six months and all the nerves that can grow back will have done so. Then I’m gonna be ridiculously strong, because right now I’m STRONG.

Ah.

 

Be the change?

Writing. An activity best undertaken alone. But I am not alone. And so I write only short stories, jotting down thoughts from the small events shaping my everyday experience. These are valuable little texts, nuggets of information telling the story of who I am right now.

In between all of those texts I guess there’s a larger picture to be found, but it annoys me a bit that I’m not writing about that too.

The medium of Instagram, which is my main channel for now, is helpful and limiting at the same time. It’s contemporary in its essence, speedy and fast, forever flowing with new input, new pictures, new stories. I like that flow, like to stay in touch with all these different minds sharing parts of themselves through photos and texts.

But.

It’s just that I also set out on this journey with the intention to write. A lot. Long pieces providing my view on stuff like permaculture, urban food production and regenerative agriculture. Where are those texts hiding? Do I have anything to say? I wish not to speak what I have to say but to write it, to provide for a timescale which allows a maturing process to take place. I thought I would have more space for theses weaving, organic, interconnecting thoughts than I currently do, and so it bothers me a bit. I feel like I’m not doing my part.

At the same time, I couldn’t care less. Each day spent in nature gives me so much. Each day melting occurs inside me, layer after layer of ethically induced intentions dripping away. I’m shedding thoughts, not knowing what will be found underneath. It’s a deconstructing process, becoming aware of which ideas that are truly mine and which have been given to me through a cultural indoctrination. Who am I but a simple human being? Who am I but a person living? Who am I to believe I have opinions worth voicing and pushing forth?

I grew tired of Klara the Orator. She had to be always witty, clever, informed and charming. She gave hope to those who were looking for alternatives but she gave too much.

Now she has become an everyday philosopher, pursuing her ideals through writing while hiding in the open, gorging herself with a high intake of Nature. It seems to be working quite well. It feels good.

Is that because there is no home ground to bounce of from again and again? No constant that pleases or disturbs me? Nothing I feel that it is my job to take care of?
The ever-changing nature of the nomadic pattern is very forgiving in the sense that the only constants are created by me and my traveling companions. What food we eat, what time we get up, how many days we climb vs rest. Being on the road I am confined to a small bubble. Sure, we relate to the outside world all the time but we are mere visitors in the places we come to. We have no means to interact on any deeper level.

And so, something is shifting and changing inside me. I’m not sure I recognize myself, but I am aware that it has been my intention for a few years now to slow down and be a bit less aggressive. The pace I used to have had served its purpose, and now I have yet to become familiar with the Klara of today.

In the periphery of my mind I can sense that I’m worried that I won’t be enough when slowing down. That I won’t accomplish good things. That my life will flow away and leave me behind, working on some mundane task better suited for a non-philosopher who has less ambition to be a change maker.

Maybe it’s the feeling of loosing your purpose. Not that I feel fully lost, I’m just stumbling while looking to find the right path. I’m in the area of knowledge where I want to be: Horticulture, geology, ecology, but how do I want to manifest the work I can do? Gardening? Project managing? Guiding? Farming? Studying?

Trying to make a mind map figuring out the options I get frustrated. It’s like I don’t want to want all these different things anymore. It’s fucking complicated being a curious mind. I just want to dig in and do good, but w h e r e? This is when it would be good to have a mentor or someone else to pick the dilemma apart with and then put it back together in a slightly different order. I like the thinking, the questioning, the twisting and turning, but it needs to leed somewhere.

Here I am, sitting on a balcony of a small alpine hut in the middle of the Rockies. Taking the day of from the others, spending time with myself. Giving space for the kind of thinking that I used to occupy myself with back home much more frequently, but now thinking ”What good is it?”

Why do I try to think about what to do in April next year when it’s only July? Because I’m me. This is who I am, who I’ve been. Maybe I’m changed, maybe not. Maybe when coming home I’ll drop right back into being the same person as when I left, but I don’t think so and I don’t hope so.

This journey, I want for it to change me. Why else make it happen?

 

Once upon a time back in Violet Town…

Murrnong Farm. Hmm. Where to begin? Let’s tell it like a saga!

Once upon a time, way Down Under, there was a young man looking for a piece of land for himself and his lady. Not just a house with a garden, but a place where you could be and that you could live from. He wanted to create something, to get his hands dirty and just do it, do all those things that people were talking about if you listened in on the alternative scene of the day. He wanted to build a house, to grow food, to keep animals, to plant trees and keep bees and all other things that are part of a self-sufficient-and-beyond kind of farming ecosystem. Why only think about it, when you can act? And so the young man went out on a search for a Good Spot.

In Violet Town, a small place of some 650 inhabitants, he came across an old paddock. The rectangular 8 hectares had some good soil for tree growing and sat just at the edge of the village. It was close enough to a community but still provided space and privacy to do your own thing. Hm. Yes. This was it, this was the place. He just enough money to buy the piece of land, and to build a water storage pond. Bingo!

Murrnong map

So began the story of Murrnong Farm, by now a small and constantly evolving piece of land on this Earth.

The young man set about implementing all his ideas and skills, and step by step the transformation took place. What was once a plain cropping or pasture paddock (and maybe cultivated for the murrnong yam daisy before that?) turned into an interconnected system featuring humans, chooks, goats, cat, bees, birds, fruit trees, olive trees, trees for timber, nut trees, shrubs, perennials, kitchen gardens, buildings, water tanks, sheds, machines, ladders, tools, storage, irrigation and fertigation, and much, much more. All these different elements played their own parts at the farm, working together in the symphony of life, co-creating diversity and abundance.

At first the place had looked to some like a mad person’s project, with a bunch of built structures and a few young trees, but as the years passed the maturing system claimed its rightful status as a Proper but Different Farm. Things were really taking off, growing and multiplying and diversifying. As well as feeding the farm household, surplus food was now being rolled out from the former paddock, getting sold at markets on Saturdays. And hey, providing food is what farming is ultimately about, eh?

While the farm was developing, the young man and his lady had two children together but later went separate ways. The children of the farm grew into clever young adults. The young farming man grew into a wise man. All was good at Murrnong, almost. For the wise man, something was still missing in the human puzzle. A loving connection to a partner, another person with whom to share life and all in it. He found it, lost it, found it, lost it… Meanwhile people came to stay at the farm, to learn from hands-on work how a permaculture system can be shaped and maintained. Some were older, most were young. Once there was this one woman, she had something special… then, like other helpers, she went away to continue her life elsewhere. Nothing had happened, but an imprint was left with the wise man.

A few years later he saw news of the woman on the Book of Faces on the internet. ”You look nice in this picture!” he wrote, and that was the start of a long, long conversation. It ended with the woman marrying the wise man and moving Down Under to his Proper but Different Farm. Love. Yes. Yes! Now they were two, one wise man and one wise woman. Life on the farm kept rolling with the seasons, crops came and went, helpers came and went.

The wise woman had a connection to another young woman, who was out travelling the world with her partner. They were researching stuff, like permaculture and agroecology. The couple asked if they could come help out at the farm. Was there a need for more hands, for more skills, for more energy? Always, the answer came, and so they drove their little van to the farm.

IMG_6203

Two weeks flew by while moving goats, pruning trees, harvesting olives, chopping wood, mending broken things, making jam, cooking food etc. The couple jumped in with the rest of the current team, working away and thoroughly enjoying whatever they were doing (except when the young woman lured her partner into milking a goat, which he really wasn’t that keen on…). It felt good, deep down on the inside, to be a temporary part of the Murrnong Farm. It felt good to live the shimmering dream of a farming lifestyle and feel content, happy. Then again, it was time to move on.

The wise man and the wise woman were sad to see the young couple continuing onwards, but gave them good food and warm hugs and put them on a train. At Murrnong Farm, people come and people go, so it is.

Maybe one day, the right people will show up, the ones who will want to permanently move into the cob house where the young couple had been sleeping for some nights. Maybe one day the wise ones will have a second nucleus, a second home, forming at the farm, providing skills and stability, furthering the resilience.

I hope so.

The End.

IMG_6189

My preferred kind of ”office”

When I give in to my love for the land and just open up to the possibility of working on it, in it, with it, I feel so strong. So calm. So happy. So relaxed. So clever. So in the right place.

IMG_6341

All these positive emotions are pronounced and enhanced when the land I’m on is also geared towards food production, not just food for humans but for the ecosystem, hence a cyclic approach. There seems to me little point in farming a landscape unless you make sure that you over time enrich the soil biota, the carbon stored, the living mass above ground, the water cleaning structures etc. Mind you, I’m not arguing that all landscapes should or could be foodscapes with an output suitable for humans, its simply the version which happens to be my preferred kind of ”office”.

Back home, working as a gardener at Gothenburg Botanical Garden, I’ve had the chance to learn more about the skill of taking good care of plants which are not necessarily well suited for your climate. Being a living plant museum, there is so much information stored in the trees, shrubs, herbs, bulbs and tubers which are growing there. In a limited space such as this garden, there is no room for large scale ideas, and so most species have but a few individuals representing them, and we are all collectively pampering them as best we can. There is no special
focus on food, since the focus for a botanical garden by default is on maintaining a gene bank – and to present it in a beautiful and interesting way. I can totally roll with that, I think it’s a valid and useful raison d’être, but it took me some thinking to get there. During this long journey I’ve made a point out of visiting other botanical gardens and to talk with different staff members, and this has really helped furthering my understanding of the ”why, how, who, where and when” kind of questions related to my own judgement of the validity of preserving plant material in the setting of a botanical garden. I’m even more proud now than before of the place as a whole and of the work done back home in the garden in Gothenburg.
IMG_4664

Switching back to looking at gardening as a way of providing food, the strategy needs to be a bit different. At a farm, even at a place like Murrnong Farm (where Tim and I are working/wwoofing right now) which is based on the principles of permaculture, diversity will in a way be limited. A farms primary reason must be to provide food, or else it will not be able to continue. You can’t acquire the energy needed to maintain and regenerate your farm (and yourself and everyone else feeding from it) if you dilute the calorific outcome by going all in on diversity. Yes, diversity is key to allowing for anomalies in weather and it’s consequences, e.g. droughts, pests, frosts, floods a.s.o., but be mindful: how will you cope with the myriad of outputs that your farm system will deliver if you are putting diversity too high on the wish list? You can of course find and use many different seed sources within the same species or graft many different varieties of the same fruit tree, because that allows you to work with a meaningful and wide enough diversity. Step too far beyond that, and you might loose sight of the food. If you can’t be efficient enough, your not a viable farmer.

I do enjoy working in the diversity of the botanical garden, because the site is such a great teacher, and of course there are many skilled gardeners and others to ask for advice and information. I feel that everything I learn there will at some point come in handy again. There’s no regretting signing up for a couple of seasons there instead of going of to work at a farm. I’ve learnt through life to value all learning opportunities, you just have to zoom out to understand in what area these opportunities take place. For example, cleaning the husks of from hundreds of nuts last season after my colleagues brought back a batch of North American nut species was a perfect intro to now cleaning hundreds of walnuts and pecans grown for food here at the Murrnong farm. Honing your skills is not something that requires you to constantly be in the same kind of setting, for cross pollination can potentially bring you so much further. All kinds of experiences and skills count, as long as you can live with the fact that you don’t always know when you’ll be able to use them next time.

For me, I can truthfully say that I have a wide and broad range of skills listed on my internal CV. Not all of them seem relevant to a potential employer, but to me they are. So on paper I narrow it down to what’s applicable right now, and of I go.

I am a gardener. I am a food grower. I might one day be a farmer.

 

Äventyr, Research – och Tänkande

När jag drömde ihop den här resan tillsammans med Tim så hade jag en tydlig vision om att jag ville skapa utrymme för två olika delar:
1. Äventyr: Att klättra, fridyka, surfa mm.
2. Research: Att jobba på småbruk och gårdar för att lära mer om permakultur, agroekologi och regenerativt jordbruk.

Jag såg de två delarna som en bra mix av vem jag är, tjejen som ville bli äventyrare när hon var 20 men som inte kunde med för att det var för egoistiskt, och tjejen som älskar naturen och som försöker hitta ett sätt att arbeta mitt i den för att vara med och återuppbygga våra ekosystem.

Det visade sig dock ganska kvick att jag hade glömt att definiera en tredje och minst lika viktig del. Kanske borde jag ha vetat och noterat det redan innan avfärd, men jag var så fokuserad på görandet. Det jag glömde var mitt mer allmänna behov för Tänkande. Att få ta mig tid att insupa och fundera över geologi, vattenvägar, alla sorters växter och djur, mänsklig kultur, landskap mm. Jag ägnar alltid en stor del av min tankeverksamhet åt att observera och reflektera, och ibland blir en ju så att säga hemmablind.
Jag tänkte inte på hur viktigt det är för mig att ha utrymme att få tänka.

En ny formulering för vad denna resa handlar om kan således summeras med Äventyr, Research och Tänkande.

Eftersom detta böljande tänkande sker lika automatiskt i mig som att jag andas hela vägen ner i magen, så har det klivit in och tagit sin naturliga plats utmed hela resan gång. Det gillar jag! Jag har hunnit tänka j ä t t e m y c k e t. Nästa del av tänkandet är att också formulera det i tal och skrift för att dela tankarna med andra. Det har varit många långa samtal de senaste veckorna, och så småningom kommer de att ge liv åt nya texter.

Jag är glad för att de olika delarna balanserar varandra, vi har visserligen haft större utrymme för äventyr och tänkande än för research, men nu är vi på väg mot en gård för att tillbringa våra sista veckor i Australien med att plocka oliver, mjölka getter, rensa odlingsbäddar och allt annat som hör till en höst i detta klimat. Eftersom jag aldrig tidigare har varit här så ser jag fram emot att få lära mer!

Jag längtar efter att få vara mitt i ett grönsaksland eller bland träd, längtar efter att få använda mina händer för att hjälpa något att växa. Jag är trädgårdsmästare, eller snarare lärling. Det finns så mycket kunskap och erfarenhet att få fatt i, och jag älskar att när jag befinner mig i rollen som trädgårdsmästare så är jag rätt bra på att glömma bort det där med prestation och istället hänge mig åt den tydliga uppgiften framför mig. Rensa morötterna. Beskär fruktträdet. Dubbelgräv landet. Skörda salladen.

IMG_5826

Life, Permaculture & Love

For years I’ve used permaculture as a tool. For years I’ve been wanting to share this way of thinking with my partner Tim. Finally, five years into our relationship, I got the chance to bring him to a permaculture course in Australia. Two full-on weeks with an international group of students and a myriad of teachers. It’s been intense on so many levels!

In all honesty, this course allowed me to reinstate my belief in our relationship. I’m sure there are others like me out there, people who are struggling to fit their permaculture life with their love life. The following thoughts are for you. I wish you all good luck!

IMG_3582

PDC reflections 1 – day 2

Passion can make you angry. Passion can make you righteous. Passion can bring you close to people but also push them away.

As I sit here and listen to all the people attending the course, and the teachers presenting it, I feel both at home and far, far away. I see myself there, a few years back, teaching with that flame burning through my words, my face, my posture, out onto the participants. The recognition makes me itch on the inside. I didn’t want to be that teacher anymore. I wished not to be perceived as righteous, since that meant scaring people away with my fire, but I could tell that sometimes I did. Were those few a worthy sacrifice for the larger group that went away empowered by the idea of permaculture? I’m not sure. And so I stepped down, outwards, to give time for reflection and to calm my mind.

I feel that there’s a huge potential in bridging worlds, left and right, academia and hands-on, but I can’t do that if I position myself to far into either of those spheres. Like an acrobat dancing the line, I wish to fall in and out of balance, in and out of those contradictions. To continue to be an agent of change and reflection, I need to be humble enough to listen to what others have to say, and strong enough to present my own view in a thought-through way.

Being here at this PDC, with persons who have been teaching a lot, allows me to zoom out during the lessons and observe the layout and the way the other participants react to it. It’s a rewarding process.

PDC reflections 2 – day 4

Much like with the freediving community, it feels good to be back with the permaculture community. I guess I need to take time outs in many different areas at different times.

Being here, observing what I have learned since the PDC back in 2010, I feel very empowered and glad about my own development. So many of the areas we touched back then, which were related to gardening, food, buildings, heat sources etc, are areas in which I have had the chance to hone my skills. The hardest nut for me to crack is still the people part of any system. So many ideas about community are circling around, being implemented in different places, and I just haven’t found a model that I thing might work for me, and for Tim, quite yet. Today we went to Patrick – Artist as a family – plus a small community garden and then to David and Sue’s Melliodora. Patricks places was around 1000 m2, established 8 years ago, and filled with diversity. Melliodora is about 8000 m2, established over 30 years ago, and filled with even more diversity. It gives hope to see these semi-urban places, knowing that I don’t feel like I would fit well with communal living, but that I want to live in a good neighbourhood. It might be in the countryside, or it might be just outside the city in a spot with good communications for coming and going, for inputs and outputs.

PDC reflections 3 – day 7

Through bringing us to all these different places, I am amazed at how well the course has been planned. The benefit of seeing an implemented design in all different stages and of all different kinds and qualities gives such a added depth to what we are learning during the more theoretical sessions. This is what I missed while partaking in my first PDC back in 2010 in Jordan with Geoff Lawton. Being a good storyteller and an empowering lecturer, he still got his points through, but the sublime, emotional part of being submerged in a permaculture landscape gives you a deeper understanding.

I also very much enjoy having a string of teachers passing through the course. Compared to an ecosystem, David is the philosophical, wise old tree who brings balance and depth. Sue is a mature, clever animal, social and cheeky, moving through our group spreading nuggets of laughter and wisdom. Angela with her soft voice but mental steel is the shepherd steering us through the course, adding missing links of info when needed and maintaining the group structure. Beck with all her in depth knowledge of ecosystems and cycles keeps a cool surface but underneath we can see her rebell nature bubble and thrive. She is also our shepherd, sharing the work with Angela, making sure that we all get access to the information a PDC contains, so that even though there are ten or more co-teachers, there is a clear learning outcome at the end.

IMG_3871

Staring each morning with a yoga session, we clear our minds and loosen up our bodies after a much needed night of sleep. A simple breakfast in silence, then karma yoga in service of the ashrams daily needs before we enter the classroom again. We use the largest yoga hall for our indoor sessions, everyone seated on the floor using low foldable tables and cushions and blankets. The teachers use a whiteboard and a projector, then swap over to using different materials and resources to convey the knowledge and experience, such as using an A-frame, drawing to scale with a scaled ruler, or taking soil samples for testing. During site visits, we get to hear other designers speak about their way of permaculture, how they have set up their systems, what sizes and budgets they have, and what has worked well compared to what has been challenging through their process of establishment. We get the full scale, from projects in their 5th, 8th, 11th, 14th and 30th year, which allows a for a richer understanding of how things might or might not develop. Back at the ashram, its forested surroundings lends themselves perfectly to exercises of reading the landscape. As we wander about with David, we learn more and more about what to look for and how to use our intuitive reading abilities handed down from our ancestors. From geology to trees, from topography to waterways, from soil structure to weeds, from wind patterns to human interaction, we see the landscape with new clarity. Layers over layers of information surround us, and using our eyes, fingers, noses, tastebuds, feet and skin we react to what we meet. Drawing conclusions from all these layers, an internal picture emerges of what has passed in the years gone by, what is happening right now, and what might come.

I let all this information fall into my already established mental framework. Back in 2010, it felt as if a made a huge reconstruction of synapses to allow for everything that I am and everything that I know to reiterate its place inside me and to form new pathways in between all these areas. I felt empowered from being allowed to use all that I am, not only the specialised knowledge that I had gathered from continuous studies within the educational system. It matters that I was planting carrots and onions and tomatoes with mum and dad when I was a kid. I matters that I was a leftist activist roaming the streets as a young adult. It matters that I have a huge chunk of technical knowledge. It matters that I have traveled and marvelled at the landscapes I’m in since my earliest memories. In a way, permaculture allows me to be me, and that is a very empowering gift.

Having a day of in the middle of the PDC allows for reflection. I feel that I couldn’t have made a better decision on which PDC to come to. This time, its not mainly about what I can learn from the full on experience, it is so much more important what Tim can get out of it and even more so what we as a couple can gain. In a shady corner of my heart, there is a little scared voice whispering: “Klara, are you really yourself truly and fully when you share your life so intimately with this Tim-person? He is not passionate about the big picture in the same way you are. He will not push you to find an alternative way, to build that new regenerative branch from our old society which you have been dreaming of your whole life. If you want to be that agent of change, can you really be with someone who is less keen on challenging himself and taking steps to reach that far flung goal?”

Silence. The voice is shrinking, transforming itself into a nurturing soup of philosophical love. The topics we are covering and the conversations they enable between the two of us are creating a new balance. Tim is entering further into my world view, my view of the world that I’ve been carrying, always. Permaculture isn’t changing me, but it has brought me a conceptual framework which allows me to express who I am through the words and ideas put forth by others who came before me. Now I get to intentionally and intimately share this view with Tim in a much more profound way, and our conversations are yielding a more solutions based mutual future. I have dreamt of this shared experience since the two of us first became a one, but knowing that I have no business trying to push anyone else into the sphere of thinking where I feel at home and where my future is blooming, I have moved slowly. It’s a delicate thing, love. After spending five years together, the opportunity and will to join in for a PDC arose through the mutual desire of a long journey. We have now set out on a 16-months long nomadic voyage, and permaculture is a part of it. The scared voice inside me was whispering: “This is it. This is the point where you either make it or brake it. Submerge Tim in your world of holistic thinking and see how he responds. If ge gets it, your safe. If he doesn’t, there is an alternative truth about your relationship.”

No. I never dared speaking about this fear with Tim. It felt as if it would do more damage than good. I’ve been thinking, “he must also have his fears about being us”, and then looking at the strong base we have built with our love for each other through nature, simple living, climbing, camping, traveling, cooking, and being active in so many ways, it seemed much wiser to let the whisper be left alone in that corner. I would have been concerned if it had grown stronger over the years, but it hasn’t. It just another balancing constant, I guess. By nature, I have an intensely questioning mind. This voice is simply another part of it, making sure that I stay on track through life, giving me a little scare but also providing a reality check. Are we compatible or not?

I’m so ridiculously glad that he gets it. We are safe. The base has grown even stronger, and now the next level awaits us.

IMG_3787

PDC reflections 4 – day 9

This was important. This was worth all the money, time and energy spent on the planning leading up to these two weeks and the immersion into permaculture during these two weeks. This was a key factor, maybe t h e key factor, in letting me know that Tim and I are a good match. Looking ahead, I can now rest my mind knowing that Tim has had a full on experience with permaculture design, and that he now knows what its all about, and that we can now share this way of systems thinking to plan our entwined future.

It’s a harsh thing to say, “do this or I will leave you”, but in essence, that’s what I did on a personal-mental level. I knew I needed Tim to understand at least the basics of permaculture for me to be able to plan for a long life together. Some things are just more important than others. I will never need to turn him into an avid freediver, because I can meet him on the rocks instead of in the ocean. We don’t have to work together side by side every day or have the same opinion on all subjects. But with permaculture being so strongly linked in with my core ethics, there was just no way that I could keep on leading a joint life, with Tim not knowing about those ethics and how they impact my life. Since 2010 I’ve been using permaculture as a framework through which I observe and analyse the world. It helps me to stay in line with my ethics and to view every decision from multiple angles, so that I know I can stand up for whatever I decide to do.

When analysing my relationship with Tim, I saw that we were aligned in most domains, but that I had a stronger emphasis on systems thinking in relation to my place in this world. I live with the mental framework of a compulsive analytical do-gooder. I can’t change that, but I can harness and use it as a strong beneficial quality of my personality. I need my life to fit with my personality, thus, I need Tim’s idea of our mutual life to fit with my personality.

I have a very strong need to understand my own patterns, so that I can tweak my way of living to provide a positive outcome through those patterns. Any pattern can lead to regeneration as well as degradation. I will not stand for degradation, will never accept that I can’t change whatever is going on into a regenerative force. That is also true when it comes to my relationship with Tim. Of course I have no intention of trying to force him to be different or to change, but I can strongly encourage him to take part of a piece of my world so that he can then make a facts based decision regarding wether or not he likes that part, and wether or not he would like to include it in his own life. Luckily enough, he chose to say yes when I said that I needed to take a Permaculture Design Course together with him. Luckily enough, he enjoyed it and learned new things. Luckily enough, I can now share myself more fully with him. Luckily enough, I can now say with renewed confidence that I believe in our mutual future. It’s not that I didn’t love Tim when he didn’t know what permaculture was all about, I just love him so much more now that he does know.

PDC reflections 5 – the aftermath

Two weeks, that’s often a short period of time. But boy, these two weeks have felt like two months. I’m such a course junkie… I love the intensity of just flooding your head and heart with information of all kinds and then see what comes out on the other end.

In a few words:

  • I want to keep living with Tim
  • I want to keep being a semi-nomad
  • I want to keep teaching permaculture
  • I want to keep working with creating regenerative landscapes
  • I want to work both in Sweden and in other countries

Thank you for sharing my thoughts.

Thank you Tim, David, Sue, Angela, Beck, Kelvin, Kim, Dave, Alessio, Jermy, Shahar, Ben, Kate, Katie, Clare, Kat, Liane, Stanley, Osti, Laura, Oana, Sylvain, Atma, Karly, Patrick, Joel, Ian, Mike, Lisa, Rod and all you others who took part in the course. You changed me.

Klara

IMG_3529IMG_3611IMG_3843IMG_4109IMG_3875IMG_4077IMG_3963IMG_3628IMG_3958IMG_4114IMG_3897IMG_3914IMG_3768IMG_4134IMG_3522

New Zeeland’s South Island. Two months of exploration has come to an end. The verdict? Yes, of course I liked it.

I grew up in a temperate climate in Scandinavia, a part of the world where population density is low and access to nature is high. I have learnt through the years that I dearly value that scene as a backdrop of my life, so whenever I come to a place with similar conditions it’s an instant love affair.

IMG_3390
Troy, Tim and Klara at the farewell BBQ on the beach :)

The South Island was in that sense exactly what I hoped it would be, wild and perfect. We started and finished with climbing sport routes on limestone up at Paynes Ford, Takaka, Golden Bay Area. Tim was living there for a full 9-month climbing season back in 2008, so it felt like a home coming. “Hi everyone, I’m back! This is my wifey Klara. Klara, meet everyone.” We camped in his old spot, went to the same old supermarket, got a library card, danced away at the Mussel Inn, went swimming either at the swim holes or in the ocean etc. It’s very nice to be able to do that with your partner, to share old memories and build new ones at the same site. By now, Takaka is not only Tim’s place but also mine.

The climbing camp where we were living is called Hang Dog, and Troy – the manager – is Tim’s old friend. He was thrilled to have a solid climbing partner back at his door step, so while I continued with rehabbing my knee, managing basically the ten minute walk out to the crag and maybe two climbs each day for the first few weeks, Tim and Troy were killing it. It was so nice to watch Tim regaining his strength after having had half a year of muscle deterioration due to an inflamed lung and all that came with it. So much of who we are together as a couple relates to being active, which means that the past year has been an odd one for us. I feel grateful for being back in my body, and I’m grateful that Tim is back in his. Being strong, flexible, adaptable and agile both in mind and body is a virtue to me.

The fact that Tim is so much taller than me and thus climbs in a different style has been a bit of a tricky mental issue for me. Since 2011 he has been my partner for at least 80% of the time when climbing outdoors. I’ve seen him on the rocks for years, performing different moves. When I try to mimic them and use the same beta to climb past a crux, it is more often than not a failure. With the analytical, logical part of my brain I understand perfectly well the physical reality behind why it is so (monkey index etc), but for the emotional part of my brain, frustration is not far away. I want to! I WANT to CLIMB up there, get past that section, figure out the moves, do it clean. But – I’m not the same length as Tim.

When climbing indoors at the bouldering gym back home, there’s usually quite a few people of different length and strength around, and so I can watch and learn together with them as well. There will be someone who uses mostly the same beta as me, and I become a better climber from being able to find my own style.

While climbing with Troy at Paynes Ford, I had the chance to spend many hours together with a very strong climber who was a bit taller than me, but who still used most of the same beta. I would find my way through cruxes mimicking Troy, and then watch Tim do it completely different. It felt a bit like learning a new language, realising that your not stuttering anymore, your actually talking in complete sentences, able of putting them together á la minute without first constructing them in your mind. I come out of New Zealand a better climber, and that makes me happy and proud. Its a great feeling, evolving. My current plateau for leading is an Australian 20/French 6B, which brings me right back to where I was before my knee injury. At the end of our two months, I’m now back to climbing some four-six routes every day, depending on the status of the skin on my fingers rather than the status of my knee. If I’m still for too long, e.g. riding a car for a day, my knee still stiffens up, but as long as I stick to my rehab routine – 45 min every second day – it comes easily back in shape.

Phew… 😀

In all, New Zeeland and all the wonderful people we’ve been spending time with have treated us very, very well. It was a relaxed and happy start of our 16 months journey. Rejuvenated, we’re now crossing over to Australia for the next four months. Hasta pronto, little island!

IMG_1877
Tim and Troy attempting to do 23 23’s in a day. Looking sharp in tights…
IMG_2049
Tim was my belay bitch when I did Klara’s Quest: One climb of each grade starting with a 14. Came all the way to a 19 before I fell of. Happy knee, happy Klara!
IMG_3105
Beach life. Sunsets. Silliness.
IMG_1555
X-mas at Hang Dog: Scruffy climbers from all over, a long table full of food, a big fire, slack lines, home made rum etc etc.
IMG_2311
We tried to climb in the Darrens. That obviously didn’t work out to well. Rain, rain and rain for two weeks during our road trip, haha.
IMG_2110
So many happy moments in the presence of big old TREES!
IMG_2875
Foraging for food. New Zeeland spinach omelette for brekkie. Yum.

Resting days

I’ve learnt from Tim, my love and best friend, that when it comes to climbing a good way to stay fit, strong and without injuries is to climb for two days and then rest for one day. For years I’ve been implementing the same scheme when freediving deep, letting my body adapt step by step. While long distance cycling, I have another routine. I often keep on biking every day, because the movement is not strenuous in the same way as when performing as a climber or a freediver. When cycling I just keep on rolling. If my knees feel sore I might bike only 100km one day instead of 150km, but I still get up an move on. I’ve discovered that that’s the way I like it.

Right now I’m in Takaka, New Zealand. Tim and I have been pretty good at sticking to the 2:1 routine, but the last week something else has been eating away at me, from the inside. I’m not physically tired, I’m a bit mentally tired.

After living together for five years it has become quite clear that I at times need to go somewhere quiet on my own for a few days, to sort out my own thoughts. This has got nothing to do with our relationship, this is just something I have done throughout my whole life. It’s a part of my private emotional and intelectual process. Since I’ve never before been maintaining a two-person relationship for this long, I just hadn’t previously noticed that pattern as clearly.

For this long 16-month-journey that we are now on, Tim and I therefor have an agreement: When I need a time out, I take a time out.

The challenge here, I’ve come to realize, is not only to understand when I need that time out, but to make sure that it’s not the same thing as one of our mutual rest-days. Yes, I need a physical rest at regular intervals. I also deeply need a mental rest every now and then, and slowly, slowly I am figuring out what that really means to me.

A mental rest requires solitude. I do not rest if I hang out with a bunch of random new friends. Chatting away I can not collect my thoughts, can not link together my recent arguments, observations and ideas into new understandings. Hence, a non climbing day spent with friends is foremost a physical resting day, not a mental resting day.

A mental resting day usually contains a clever book of some sort, and me reading it undisturbed. Today for example, I’m reading ”The Invention of Nature. The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt, The Lost Hero of Science” by Andrea Wulf. It’s a well written historical backdrop to the modern environmental movement. I thoroughly enjoy reading it, hour after hour, drinking a coffee, eating a snack. Undisturbed I’m loosing myself in the book. I let my own thoughts hoover on a higher level, taking note of interesting bits of the story, collecting information and attaching it to my already existing web of knowledge. This is a process that I hold in high regard, since it’s a way for me to keep on developing my own thinking. I’m not that interested in trivia, I love the depth of holistic thinking. A mental resting day is thus a day for me to advance my own thinking through the absence of conversations.

I like this. The more clearly I can describe my own needs, the more easily they can be met. I’m not done yet with this one, but I’m gonna take a rest for a bit.

Now, back to reading.

img_5535 Fortsätt läsa Resting days

Human diversity

I meet a girl at the parking lot. She is playing a flute made from bamboo. The tone is a soft one, swirling around with the wind. I think of how we choose to express ourselves, of how confident she is with her ability to play that flute. If she’s a musician, she could pick up any kind of flute: Give it a few minutes and she’d be playing away. She’s expressing herself with the music she puts forth. Her muscles know what to do, her mind is relaxed.

I think of what I do to express myself. I use the force of my muscles, tendons and joints. I breathe, I kick, I hang, I pull, I reach, I balance and I use all my mental and physical strength combined to push through whatever challenge I am at. I express myself and I find myself, through myself. Instead of a flute I have a rope, a monofin, a snorkel, a bike and other outdoor equipment. To reach that craved for state of flow I need to be fully absorbed in a physical activity with nature as a backdrop.

It makes me happy to meet the flute playing girl. It relaxes me. We are all different, we carry different needs and abilities and hearing her play makes me want to celebrate our richness as the diverse humans we are. She needs and uses a piece of bamboo, I need and use a nose clip. Both ways are equal.

Its often a struggle for me to allow myself to do the things that are geared towards my own sole enjoyment, such as climbing and freediving. I have a hard time seeing how the world becomes a better place from me having fun and feeling good. I think that’s the main philosophical question I have been grappling with for the past decade or more. I keep on coming back to it over and over again. Only during the past year or two have I been able to release myself from the mental chains made out of guilt for not constantly partaking in the quest for the Greater Good.

Its odd for me to feel this relaxed about the state of the world. Its like I don’t have the need to worry much anymore. I have found many answers regarding what to do and how to act if I want to be a part of regenerating the ecosystems of the Earth, so I focus on those possibilities and strive to do my best. Slowly but surely I am making a positive difference, and I am very grateful for finally having understood that I can only continuously do so if I also allow time and resources for my own personal needs. Such as gathering seaweed :)

img_1443