Horses, naked gardening, and the little things that move you…like coffee!

Dear Sunaina,

I am sure you are as eagerly awaiting “World Naked Gardening Day” and “International Permaculture Day” as I am, this Saturday and Sunday! What better way to spend the early spring than enjoying nature au naturale? May 1st is often considered the first safe day to plant frost-intolerant varieties of plants, and Mother’s day is coming up, so there will be lots of gardening going on around the northern hemisphere.

IMG_4823 - EditedYesterday I got my first Coffee tree, an Arabica variety, and tasted my first coffee “cherry”. They are delicious! Maybe one day I’ll be able to eat coffee cherry (oddly enough “cherry” is the proper plural for coffee fruit) while sipping on home harvested and roasted coffee. It sounds too good to be true, to be honest, and yet it’s so simple and basic. I’ll be transplanting it into a bigger pot until I figure out if/where I’m staying.

People planted trees and introduced plants around here based on need as much as anything else. Essentially, over the last 45 years, everyone created food forests with macadamia nuts, loquat, strawberry & pineapple guava, avocado, mullberry, citrus…all commonly planted here before there was running water, hand watered for decades with water hauled in by trucks, as this area was a desert at the time and still technically may be. I wish more urban homes in this day and age were so thoughtfully planted, thankfully they are becoming more-so as people and cultures re-learn about and appreciate home food production.

When I first got here I saw a horse that was “the horse” that I wanted to ride. He’s fawn brown with a patch of white on his rear end. Yesterday I met him for the first time. He’s the dominant horse of the entire herd, about 12 horses, and he’s a very large and confident horse at that. I approached the whole herd and socialized with my 4 friends who I see from time to time on the trail. There is a large white one that seems to like me, we talk the most out out of the group. She lets me groom her, and every now and then when I get a little too comfortable she reaches back to touch me with her nose and I slow down and get into her more comfortable space. She seems to be the leader of a smaller herd that doesn’t usually hang out with the others, but is clearly a part of the main herd when they are together. After a couple minutes with her I wandered around, studied the horses, and remembered how valuable experience is when it comes to these things. My horsemanship is notice at best, but it will improve in time. I came across a male, guessing all of the males are geldings but I haven’t looked very closely, who was curious about me so I introduced myself. He let me pet him on his neck and shoulder, and clearly loved it when I scratched his neck. He put his nose to me, and I snapped my fingers to stop him but I realize now that maybe I should have let him do what he was going to do. I don’t think he was going to bite me, but having seen a woman grabbed by her breast, picked up, shaken, and thrown, by an angry horse, I’m pretty respectful of their ability. Apparently a sign of affection is a horse grooming a person in return for their efforts, though it may be bad manners technically, and in hindsight that’s what I think he was trying to do, but I didn’t risk it. Afterwards I scoped out the big male that I was so instantly drawn to. He takes his role pretty seriously, and has much respect from the other horses. When he told them to move farther into the trees, after a very short conversation with the large white female, the whole herd moved. I was fairly confused by the big guy, and to be honest I was a bit nervous and I’m sure that he could tell even though I wasn’t giving any signals that I knew of, animals often just have that ability. His ears were erect at me, his nose wasn’t furled, he wasn’t showing me his teeth, and he stood tall with a calm tail. I touched him a few times and then moved on. Perhaps I should have been more confident, but I’ll save my boldness for the second time we meet. Meeting and interacting with a herd of about 12 former-pet horse that live free on 700+ acres of wild mountainside, and they didn’t run from me or trample me, is good enough for me at the moment! As I learn more about the horses I’ll advance my socialization. As unlikely as it is, I’d still love to ride the big male. Maybe he’ll at least let me groom him one day.

So, May 2nd, Saturday, is Naked Gardening Day! I have to admit, I was practicing this week…working on my tan in the garden. I may have signaled alien spacecraft when the sun hit my belly, should find out by next week. If “War of the Worlds” becomes real, I’m sorry, I take full responsibility! Genuinely, I hope some people who would never ordinarily be willing to engage in such an act will let the sun shine where it probably never has on Saturday. It’s a pretty amazing feeling, whether a person lives in an apartment, the suburbs, or somewhere rural…get naked, get some dirt, put some seeds in it! It’s a whole different feeling, and it’s good for you! Science has shown that exposure to microbes in soil is healthy for humans, and that being naked is good for you too.

Permaculture day is Sunday, the perfect follow up for NGD. Normally I don’t celebrate holidays or pay much attention to the calendar, but these are fun. I’ll be planting a rsection of Chia and Sunflowers on Sunday, that should be self-seeding, in an area that will increase the privacy of the outdoor shower at the cottage. It’s pretty private but part of the neighbors house, just below, is visible and I’d like to change that. While it doesn’t bother me, I don’t want guests worried about someone seeing them in the shower. We’ve all got our hangups, and lacking privacy while nude is probably the most common one for people. That’s OK, just part of the culture that will change in time. Permaculture day would be a great day for people to implement, or at least to study, something that will help them in the long run. Whether it’s developing a way to slow rainwater run off so your yarden can capture the moisture or planting a tree, they are little steps that help us to have a more secure and enjoyable future. Capitalize on the spirit of the day!

I’m going to go enjoy the rest of this lovely afternoon. May your weekend be wonderful!

Malama pono,

Colin

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