Finding Eden

18 Apr

Hands holding a fern about to be planted.

Bringing nature to our doorstep represented in planting this Oyster Fern. (Photo: Rebecca Harned - Washington DC - April 2011)

I’ve always found internal peace when in nature.  I look at a walk in the woods as time to be with God, or mother earth, or pachamama, or whatever other way you characterize a higher power.   Quite simply, I see God (or pachamama as I prefer to refer to her) in the fern heads popping-up from the earth, in the little brook trout, and in the bromeliad that coexists on the branch of a strangling fig in the rainforest.  And when I feel any of these intricacies of nature a sense of peace comes over me.  It is kind of hard to explain but I think many of you know this feeling.

Over the past few years I have come to see how important it is to help bring nature out in all of us and in our communities – even if we live in the concrete jungles that define our urban landscapes.  I’ve been trying to find ways that I can spend more time with pachamama as I live each day in the bustling city of Washington, DC.  I could take a day trip to the National Arboretum or bike up Rock Creek Park, all are just a few miles from my house.  But finding the balance in my life is really about how to bring nature to my door step and make it a part of daily life – and a part of the daily life of the community I define as my neighborhood.

A small cement slab serves as my back patio area.  No real potential for nature there until its time for major patio renovations.  But I do have a small, postage stamp size, front yard that faces a busy artery leading to the downtown area. That is where the transformation occurred.  It was nothing more than a wasteland of crab grass and a few sink holes.  Now its exploding with life.  Colors, flavors, aromas, and textures.  I found Eden right here in Washington, DC – and right at my doorstep.

Today there are a variety of herbs growing among arugula, praying mantis, lettuce, eggplant, earth worms, daffodils, broccoli, sparrows, ferns, roses, bumble bees, and raspberries.  Its kind of like an urban permaculture that serves many purposes: 1) it provides organic fresh clean foods, 2) it nurtures an ecosystem, 3) its my personal sanctuary, and most importantly 4) it inspires our community to nurture nature.  The woman a couple of houses down, Gloria, planted cabbage and collard greens this spring.  Another man on the block over planted two blackberry bushes for the first time after living here for over 25 years.  We all plan to share our small little harvests with one another, and this has become the primary topic of our weekly conversations.

I’ve found Eden in my little patch of earth amid a sea of concrete, brick, and asphalt.  We’ve nurtured a little sanctuary for pachamama that is a part of daily life.  And we’ve started to inspire our neighbors to bring this urban ecosystem back to life.  I hope our community finds gratification in the peace that comes from nurturing nature.

Baby broccoli plant emerges from the earth in an urban oasis.

This baby broccoli plant is exploding with life from the nutrients in the earth, sun, and rain. It embodies the beauty of my urban Eden. (Photo: Rebecca Harned - Washington DC - April 2011)

3 Responses to “Finding Eden”

  1. Danielle April 20, 2011 at 12:29 pm #

    Bec! I love this. I have a novelette I think you should check out-quick read-called Seedfolks by Gary Fleischman. I’m reading it to my students right now while we were studying the plant life cycle. I can’t wait to read more of your blog posts. I can picture your neighbors getting into the seed planting. That is amazing. Go you. Love you.

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