Friday, 15 December 2017

Childhood wonderland

This year we've been running a weekly life-led bush school called Make and Play. We've carved spoons, made multi-pronged fishing spears, learned to cook on a camp fire, built cubbies, observed many aspects of the forest, made cord with flax leaves, yabbied and fished, swam, climbed trees, learned to find and share food, and enjoyed stories and good times with one another.

The last Make and Play for the year took place this morning and it was truly magical. After our initial acknowledgement of country and the Dja Dja Wurrung people and elders, and our own old people who have travelled from far and wide, Patrick told the story of how that morning the dawn Kookaburras had told him something strange was happening in the forest today. He asked the kids to keep an eye out for a sign or a clue as to what that strangeness might be.

Ashar told us the story of an indigenous group that uses ash from the fire to receive messages. He didn't know the full story so we decided to experiment with our old camp fire. Patrick buried his hands into some cold char-ash, threw it up, and as it settled on the ground he discovered a letter under the coals. We were all gobsmacked.

He read it out.

We knew we had to help The Captain of the Flying Pirate Ship, so the first thing to do was to find him. We got Zero, our trusty Jack Russell and his scruffy mate Fluff, to smell the letter and get the pirate's scent so these two rough coats could lead us to the Captain. We followed the dogs and lo and behold...

We found the pirate sleeping not far from our cubby camp. Our excitement must have woke him. He was so surprised to see us. The letter mentioned he couldn't talk unless he had his hat on, so we set out with the friendly mute pirate to try to find it.

The hat we soon found at the Can Tree, he put it on and - it was a miracle - he could speak! But it was a foreign language he spoke. We had to use our best expressions to tell him we don't speak his language. He quickly understood and spoke a language we could understand. He was so happy we could understand him and that we were eager to help.

He told us that his flying pirate ship had crash landed and his things were scattered all around. He was especially hoping to find his beloved stringed instrument which he had on him when he crashed. He lost it right after he'd heard the magical sounds. Therefore we wondered whether we would find his guitar at the magical musical sound machine (an old mineral water check point pipe) that goes deep down into the ground, and where we've often stopped and listened for the music of the underworld. It was here we found his guitar.

The pirate captain, who calls himself Norseman, asked whether there was a magical fairy tree close by. He remembered learning a song from the fairies back home, so he thought that maybe the fairies here would be able to understand the song. Some of the children knew about the fairy tree and led us to it. Our pirate sang the fairy song, and asked us to join in. Towards the end of the song Patrick saw Zero looking intensely inside the fairy tree and said to the little dog "what is it?" Zero raced straight inside the hollow and uncovered a beautiful coin bag. The pirate said that with this was his bag of magical coins and he could now do magic. He showed us how he could bite a coin in half and then blew it back to full size again. We all watched on in amazement. But how did he do it?

Just at this time a mother fox was seen watching us from just a few meters away. The two dogs got scent and off they went on a chase. We knew the dogs would catch up with us. The pirate was keen to go looking for his tucker bag and find his treasure box. And so were we, so we all headed off to help him. The tucker bag was resting by the mineral water pumps at Sutton Spring, and we stopped for some of this delicious underworld water, and the pirate shared some of his fruit leathers, dried nuts and seeds. Yummo.

We headed off again, this time we had the treasure chest in our minds. Keeping up with the older kids was quite a challenge.

We arrived at Lake Daylesford where our Norseman remembered his ship crashing into. He also remembered holding on to his treasure chest while swimming ashore, but remembered little else after that. We all got very excited that we were possibly close to recovering the chest. The pirate showed us a stick riddle. It's answer, he said, would tell us the direction to go.

The riddle revealed a fish, and the fish pointed as an arrow, and off we raced in the arrow's direction.

We knew we were getting warmer.

Two turtles and three ducks on the water all turned their heads as we approached and we knew this was a directional sign. We followed their pointer. A small bag with a key in it was soon found and we were jumping with excitement.

And then young Axel (or was it his older brother Oscar?) found it. The pirate was so happy because it meant he could perform the old magic he'd learned from shamans from all over the world.

He turned a blank book into a book of colourful drawings by just rubbing over the cover,

stuck four separate pieces of coloured cloth into his closed hand and when he pulled them out they were all stitched together.

The children were dazzled. How did he do it?

He was so grateful we helped him to find his lost things, and we were so grateful for the adventure he took us on. He took a bow and thanked us for our generosity as we bestowed gifts upon him.

We then feasted on nourishing fruits and fibres of the earth. We have honoured the earth back in many ways this year, one example of this is having our snack food nude, and not in disposable plastic.

We then hung out on the jetty, playing games, not quite believing the adventure we'd just had.

Luckily Meg and Patrick took some photos to show friends and family, because otherwise they would not believe the time we'd just experienced.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

A gut healing book warming (and the importance of home)

There are so many entities to thank when a book comes into being. Convention dictates we thank humans only, which makes sense because a book is a fairly human-orientated thing. Yet a book has many other contributors who make it possible, so before we begin this post on the social warming event that brought re:)Fermenting culture: a return to insight through gut logic into the community, we wish to give thanks and praise to the vegetal flowerings, barks and pulp, the nitrogenous rain cycles and carbonous roots, the mycelial meanderings, bacterial bounties, autonomous chewers, borers and suckers, and much more life besides. Thank you for your part in making this book become.

Just before the punters arrived, each with their life-giving, much-more-than-human microbiomes, we put the finishing touches on the fermented foods that we wanted to warm people into our home with, and get their guts zinging.

The word home has become a pejorative term, initially engineered by industrial capitalists to shame unwilling peasants into leave the economic autonomy of home and get a "real job" in a factory. Then later the word was further degraded by a strain of industrialised feminism, those who could only imagine home as a stereotypical 1950s domain of feminine incarceration and boredom. Both these corrupted versions of home are not ours. As radical-homemaking-feminist-neopeasants we think of home as a place of intimate dwelling, and the most empowering environment we could possibly imagine. Of course, by home we don't just mean the confine of our house and garden, but also our walked common land to neighbours, friends, community gardens, near forests, creeks and places of many other relationships that enable wellness to spring forth in relation to our own labours and insights. From such empowerment springs forth such food.

Home for us is a place of healing, growing, consuming, decaying, dying, birthing and giving back in order to keep the gifts of the earth flowering. Under this order all is compost, all is fermentation, all is food and labour and new life that sprouts from the necessity of death.

It was to be a day to celebrate poetics and philosophy in the community sphere and what better way to do this than share the food we consume that is our fuel for poesis. By 3pm we were ready for all comers. Speakers, guests, children, dogs – all manner of goodly folk – began to arrive after an earlier rain shower that filled the garden with a miraculous energy that was impossible not to sense.

Woody sang and strummed the warmers into the hearth of our homelife.

We were brought many gifts, such as wild fermented sourdough from Mara to add to the ferments table.

Some of the non-alcoholic fermented beverages Meg brewed for the day were turmeric tonic, jun and rejuvelac, all flavoured with various flowers and herbs from the garden including wild fennel and elderflower.

It was a day of bright light, colours and ongoing Woody instrumentations.

It was also a day of raffling hard-to-get-hold-of things, such as these hops vines that we divided from the mother plant and potted up in the winter. In the raffle we raised over $60 for the community gardens. That's a lot of seed!

Woody tried every instrument in the house as more and more warmers assembled and he developed further a role for himself as musical host.

Summery peeps and chilled dogs wandered through the garden, where they beheld our neopeasant homestead on a quarter acre, being tended to and developed on a household income well below the poverty line. Such wealth is possible with a volunteered poverty.

Vegetal life and built environments are complimentary forces at Tree Elbow, and everyone at the warming got to feel the physicality of such energy transference between the formed and the forming.

More musical delighters rolled in.

Old and new friends came to the party.

The outdoor kitchen became a bar for chance encounters and a place of simple feeding. All the food and drink, including the acorn beer and elderflower mead, were fermented with ingredients that came from our homeplace. There were happy guts everywhere; in season and in step with life.

And there were serious conversation guts too. There's so much work to be done by all of us to keep health flowering in a world being killed off by unhappy gut people whose main concern is money.

Steve brought some old ferments to trade for a book. They came with quite a story.

Maya, before giving her remarkable gut-heart-mind talk, catches up with David and Su, grandfolk of permaculture.

Hal was introduced to Su, just one of a myriad encounters that brought people together.

People gathered round the house as Patrick signed books and talked his passions – gut logic, Pandora and the creation stories our culture has all but buried.

Children gathered under the oak tree. They found their place before the talks began.

Our book table offered an assortment of publications written by Artist as Family members. Thanks Kat for minding the stall where money and non-money exchanges were made.

Despite the incredible weather to be outside we decided to welcome people into the house for an non amplified honouring of the book through deeply collected thoughts. Ant played a few sweet tunes as around 80 folk found a seat or a comfortable standing place.

Mara MC'd the proceedings. The gentle formality of such a relaxed event gave ritual regard to the purpose of why we'd gathered.

She welcomed Meg to speak who gave us considerable laughter (her very own gut-made serotonin and dopamine at work) and an impassioned insight into what we'd been eating – the origins and techniques of such food (which included delicious pickled spear thistle stems) are unobtainable in any supermarket.

Then Mara welcomed Nikki to speak,. Nikki had prepared an eloquent dissertation of the book, which Patrick will share later on his permapoesis blog.

The fermenting vessel Nikki used to illustrate her talk had been made especially by Petrus. The vessel was sculptured, broken and the shards put back together as a metaphor for Patrick's putting back the fragments of the Pandora myth and the cosmology surrounding it so important to rethinking culture after the effects of misogyny and misogyny's retaliating sister, misandry. Both hatreds neuter life and are in service only to more war making. Like Nikki's talk, Petrus' fermenting vessel becomes a gift back to Tree Elbow in exchange for the book. The vessel more than symbolising a return to sensible culture after the rupturing of industrial modernity that although masculine in form has harmed both women and men, and taken us away from an intimacy with a loved land and from each other. Thank you Petrus and Nikki! What a lovely ordering of thought and form from two giving elders.

Maya then spoke, with such force and insight that not a single photograph was taken. She held us in a homeplace where reclaiming life, refermenting it, taking in the medicine of the possibility of post-industrialism and orienteering our cultures again towards their permanent regeneration could be more than dreamt.

With Meg earlier speaking on the alive foods and drinks we wished to nourish our guests, Mara acknowledging country, the Dja Dja Wurrung elders upon whose land we were gathering, as well as our own elders before introducing everyone, Ant soulfully playing songs he has arranged using Patrick's poems, and Nikki and Maya delivering their profound addresses concerning this new little book, it was the author's time to speak.

After all the thank yous, and a brief talk on the imperatives of writing such a work right now, Patrick read Part 1, Vessel (a slow text poem) from re:)Fermenting culture. This work is the not-so-easy gateway into the book, into the underworld of it. It sets up a physical hurdle for the reader, which requires the time, personal resolve and quietude to engage. The book is divided into 3 parts – a poem, an essay and a recipe (the poetical, theoretical and practical) and we offer it here as an ebook to freely share (email us) or a hardcopy that can be purchased via this blog (see righthand side bar of this website). If you wish to read more about the book head to Patrick's blog. And if you wish to get your local library to order it in they can do so through us here.

Thank you Brett for taking all the pics on the day. And thank you Nikki, Maya, Ant, Mara, Jeremy, Brett and Kat for helping out on the day. Thank you to all present and future readers of re:)Fermenting culture and for the goodly labours you each perform to keep the earth flowering, fruiting and producing more and more fermentable fibres on the loved ground you call your home.