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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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!

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Tim and Troy attempting to do 23 23’s in a day. Looking sharp in tights…
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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!
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Beach life. Sunsets. Silliness.
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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.
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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.
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So many happy moments in the presence of big old TREES!
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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 :)

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Klaras och Tims äventyr!

På långtur

Den 6e december åker vi mot vår första anhalt, Nya Zeeland. Det blir starten på en 17 månader lång resa runt jorden.

Grundplanen från förra året kvarstår.
Vi ska ägna oss åt äventyr och research: Klättra, fridyka, vandra, surfa, arbeta på gårdar, skörda tång etc. Bo i tält, refugios och bilar, leva enkelt och på liten budget. Umgås med gamla och nya vänner. Lära oss mer om permakultur och om hantverket bakom att driva ett regenerativt jordbruk. Må bra tillsammans och samtidigt göra något bra för planeten.

Filosofiskt sett finns inget annat alternativ för mig som tänkande människa än att vara en aktiv del av den globala rörelse som arbetar för att skapa ett positivt mänskligt avtryck på vår jord.

Det långtgående målet med resan är därför att bli en bättre planetskötare, vilket är detsamma som det långtgående målet för mitt liv. Det kan låta pretentiöst, men jag menar det.

Wish us luck!

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Resrutten speglar de miljöer vi längtar efter mest, och ser i grova drag ut så här:

December 2016 till april 2018

Dec – Jan, Nya Zeelands sydö
Feb – Maj, Australiens östkust
Maj – Sverige
Jun – Aug, Canadas & USAs västkust
Sep, Cuba
Okt, Caribien
Nov – Dec, Peru & Bolivia
Jan – Apr, Chile & Argentina

Vi kommer att mellanlanda ett par veckor i Sverige i maj för att starta ett nytt försäkringsår, packa lite annan utrustning och hinna krama på er här hemma. Sedan sticker vi igen, och blir borta ytterligare ett år.

Vill ni följa oss på resan så kika in här:
www.sealion.se
klura_ filura på Instagram
Klara Hansson och Tim Johansson på Facebook

Ursprungsplanen var att resa under jan ’16 – mars ’17. På grund av att jag skadade mitt knä strax innan avfärd så blev vi kvar här i Sverige ett extra år, vilket har varit bra på många sätt. Vi har sparat ihop en större resebudget och även kunnat köpa den utrustning vi saknade. Dessutom fick Tim under våren den inflammatoriska sjukdomen sarkoidos, vilken satte sig i ena lungan och vandrade vidare ut i de stora lederna, med påföljande smärta. Han blev klen som en gammal gubbe… Det hade varit så illans tråkigt om vi hade varit på resande fot när sjukdomen blommade ut. I mitten av november blev han till slut godkänd av sin läkare som “nästan frisk”, och då vågade vi äntligen boka våra biljetter.

För min del blev det en korsbandsoperation i februari, och efter 9 månaders envet- en rehabilitering är jag nästan helt bra igen. Den sista rörligheten och styrkan hoppas jag återfå under långturen. Det har varit en märklig och fin resa, detta med att bli skadad och sedan göra sitt allra bästa för att ta sig tillbaka till full funktion igen, t ex återgå till jobbet som trädgårdsmästare, komma tillbaka till fridykningslandslaget och till slut kunna klättra. Jag har lärt mig mycket. Det är en mer avslappnad Klara som är redo att ge sig iväg denna gång.

Under året som gått har också tankarna om sponsorskap för äventyrsdelen samt en akademisk förankring kring arbetet på gårdar sakta förändrats. Istället för att kräva av mig själv att jag ska knyta in diverse kommersiella samarbetspartners i projektet samt skapa ett underlag för en Master-uppsats så har jag valt att släppa dessa idéer inför avresa.

Därmed har jag valt att släppa mig själv och Tim fria. Det nns ingen som kräver någon prestation av oss i detta läge. Frihetskänslan är total.

Med detta sagt tycker vi ändå att det vore roligt med olika typer av luststyrda samarbeten under resans gång. Jag vill t ex mer än gärna skriva artiklar om de olika gårdar och platser vi besöker och funderar på hur jag kan göra en podcast för att presentera de spännande personer vi säkerligen kommer att stöta på. Utkastet till en bok skvalpar också runt i min hjärna.

Förslag kring samarbeten mottages tacksamt, likaså resebidrag :)

Swisch: 0704-406504

Det känns skönt att få lägga mina interna prestationskrav på en mer njutningsfull nivå – en nivå som jag tror jag kan upprätthålla länge och som därför är bärkraftig. Jag vill ju vara den där planetskötaren jag drömmer om att vara.

Jag ser fram emot att få resa igen, att få vara nomad-Klara ett tag. Hon har fått stå tillbaka på tok för länge…

Vi hörs under vägen och ses på andra sidan!

Klara

Dynamics of change

 

I am 32 years of age. I am slowly coming into an understanding of what and how I can be a part of the change that I wish to see in this world. It has taken years. It has been a thorough, heart breaking and uplifting moral process of wanting to live my passion while at the same time giving back to the Earth System.

I do not believe in contributing to the society of today. I believe in contributing to the vision of the society of tomorrow.

I am grateful for what has been, but I see no point in being afraid of the dynamics of change. There are no static systems. Change is always a factor. I will not contribute my time to the up-keeping of a societal norm where we as a collective act on the assumption that we have reached perfection in certain parameters. I do not believe in perfection. Perfection might provide a goal for some minds, but I can only see it as a flaw if you can not understand that perfection can never be reached. It is an infinite goal. You will never get there. That’s the whole point of perfection. You repeat a task over and over again, in an infinite number of iterations, yet you will never reach an end. There will always be room for improvement. Deal with it. Rest, then try again. Draw back – and you fill falter. You will become a part of the past, no longer in line with what is happening in the moment.

We are a funny species. We have funny minds. We can think in so many layers, we can relate to so many different perspectives at the same time. If we challenge that skill we become better and better at comprehending complexity, and if we give in and drop down to a more linear way of thinking, we will loose our potential of a more thorough understanding of this world.

What I’m saying is this: Sure, if you want to limit yourself and your own mind, do so. I can not stop you. But be aware of the choice you have made. You are free to at any time change this choice, but as time passes and habits are set, this will become harder and harder. Much like for any organism, there are stages of our lives which are generic. Birth, growth, offspring, death. We can not affect our own birth. We can sometimes affect our physical growth. All of us can affect our mental growth. Many of us can choose to have or not to have any children. We will all die.

The most profound effect we can have on ourselves through these stages relate to our mental growth. Others can provide part of the conditions for your mental growth, but the lion part of the job is for you to undertake. Dismiss it, and you will never reach your full potential.

Why would you ever want to loose that opportunity?

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Lag-VM i siffror

wc-2106Under årets lag-VM i fridykning fanns ca 90 atleter från 13 länder på plats i Kalamata. I klassisk ordning tävlade vi först i CWT – Constant Weight, därefter STA – Static Apnea, och till sist DYN – Dynamic Apnea. 

Det lag som enligt mig imponerade mest var de japanska damerna som knep ett guld. Efter första tävlingsdagen hade de tagit flest poäng av alla, både damer och herrar, och låg i klar ledning. Det var så kul att få se dem dyka, stabila prestationer och mycket glädje. De tjeckiska och ryska damlandslagen nosade dem ändå i hälarna och tog silver respektive brons.

På herrsidan var det tjeckerna, fransmännen och ryssarna som kämpade om medaljerna och tog guld, silver och brons. Den största dramatiken under hela VM uppstod när en av fransoserna skulle dyka CWT till 101 m, ett efterlängtat personbästa på tävling, men organisationen hade strulat till det och satt linan på endast 81 m. Tyvärr fick atleten inte göra ett nytt dyk och i slutändan fick han ”bara” sina 81 poäng (dvs 1 poäng/m).

Foto Jens StoetznerFlera av lagen var i år välsponsrade och hade coacher med sig, och rörde sig genom VM i egna små grupper. Det var kul att utifrån följa deras samarbete och strategier. De tycktes betydligt mer pressade att prestera än oss som ”skötte oss själva”, samtidigt som vi också hade behövt en coach på plats för att stötta upp.

Tittar vi på placeringarna så var det prestationerna i poolen som pressade upp lagens poäng. Det är ju ett två till ett förhållande för pool vs hav, till skillnad mot de tidigaste lag-VM då endast CWT och STA var med.

Tyvärr fanns det inte någon väl fungerande kanal vad gäller förmedling av startlistor, resultat, bilder mm. En del information kommunicerades via Facebook, men väldigt sporadiskt. Som atlet blir det frustrerande att inte kunna berätta vad som händer för er som sitter där hemma, men vi försökte att uppdatera så gott vi kunde. Jag hoppas att AIDA har en bättre strategi för och ett tydligare samarbete med nästa år organisatör vad gäller detta.

Här är de slutgiltiga resultatlistorna:

femeninomasculino

Så hur gick det egentligen för Sverige?

Det svenska damlandslaget bestod av Linda Stenman, Sofia Tapani och mig, Klara Hansson. Herrarna hade i år inget lag på plats.
img_4403Vi tränar alla med Juniordykarna i Göteborg och fick i år stöttning från SSDF, Svenska Sportdykarförbundet, för vår VM-satsning. Vi drog också ihop pengar via en crowdfundingkampanj då det in i det sista var osäkert om SSDF hade budgetutrymme för denna tävling.

Resultatmässigt så låg vi på 5e plats efter CWT med 159 poäng, vilket vi var mycket stolta över. Vi halkade ned till 7e plats med 170,8 poäng efter STA, då jag var förkyld och Linda hade feber. När det var dags för DYN hade Linda fortfarande feber och dessutom smärtor kring buken så hon och jag åkte till sjukhuset för att kolla upp hennes tillstånd. Kapten Sofia fick dyka utan sitt svenska lag och tog 78 poäng peppad av britterna, med vilka vi i princip hade ett gemensamt storlag. Trots detta bortfall kammade vi hem totalt 407,8 poäng och landade därmed på en niondeplats.

Det stora vinsten var inte poängen, utan att vi fick möjlighet att verkligen bygga upp ett lag. Vi agerade som Landslaget, the one and only. Det var storartat!

På personligt plan?

Jag är sjukt stolt över att ha tagit mig tillbaka till landslaget efter att ha opererat mitt vänstra främre korsband och sytt ihop bägge meniskerna bara sju månader innan VM. Det är så häftigt att ha en målbild att jobba mot under rehabilitering! Det var också mitt första lag-VM och min första stora tävling sedan VM 2011. Är löjligt glad över att vara tillbaka, och ser fram emot fler tävlingar!

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Hur fungerade tävlingsorganisationen?

Jag åkte ner redan den 7e september och hade därmed möjlighet att få hela åtta träningsdagar ute i det 26 gradiga, djupblå Medelhavet innan den första tävlingsdagen. Sofia och Linda anslöt den 12e september. Vi fokuserade på att träna ute till havs då vi under sommaren hade haft möjlighet att träna både STA och DYN men inte så mycket CWT.

Stavros Kastrinakis och hans team av säkerhetsdykare på Freediving Club Greece har en väl fungerande set up med två båtar och ett antal uppvärmningsbojar. En båt kör atleter fram och tillbaka mellan stranden och dykplatsen, vilken ligger någon kilometer ut i Kalamatabukten. Den andra båten ankras upp vid dykplatsen och har ett motoriserat antiballastsystem. Som atlet kan du simma fram och be om ett specifikt djup, linan med bottenplatta justeras av en säkerhetsdykare ombord på båten, sedan får du en nedräkning på 3 minuter. Du följs via ekolod och två säkerhetsdykare möter dig när du simmar upp. Nice and simple.

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Under tävlingsdagen hade vi också en stor pråm, inlånad från försvaret, på vilken två av de tre tävlingslinorna var riggade. Det blåste upp till storm och tävlingen fick avbrytas för dagen strax efter att jag gjort mitt dyk.

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Funderar du på att åka dit och träna så är fördelen just den proffsiga riggningen och att du kan bo på Elite hotel vilket är Stavros bas. Ta på dig våtdräkten på rummet, ta din utrustning i handen och gå ner till stranden på tre minuter så blir du upplockad av dykbåten. Nackdelarna t ex är att du inte själv kan ta dig ut till dykplatsen och att det inte heller finns något roligt rev att dyka på efteråt om man känner för lite snorkling med fiskar. En timmes bilfärd bort vid Kardamylis finns i alla fall grottor och tunnlar att dyka i när en behöver få leka av sig i havet…

Summa sumarum så var det ett riktigt bra VM på många plan, och trots att vi inte tog någon medalj så kände vi oss som vinnare. 

Over and out from the Calm Zone 😉

//k

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