Growth is a double edged sword. Unchecked, growth can be cancerous and destructive. It is this type of ceaseless expansion that has put our society into the precarious environmental and financial positions in which we currently find ourselves. On the other hand, growth can be regenerative and life-giving. Following a forest fire or a bitter winter, the first green shoots to emerge from the earth bear witness to the earth's ability to restore life in the wake of disaster.

My goal for this blog is pretty simple and open-ended: I want to document and share with family and friends my efforts to incorporate an ever increasing degree of self sufficiency, voluntary simplicity, and environmentally-conscious design into my life as a would be urban homesteader.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Homesteading as art

Being an artist/art teacher by trade, I have the opportunity to create and be surrounded by beautiful drawings and paintings and sculpture all the time. But while fine art is something that I love, I think that the creative spark that resides in all people extends far beyond paintbrushes and pencils. One of my favorite quotes comes from Dada artist Marcel Duchamp, and I think it distills nicely what the creative spirit is all about:

"It's not what you see that is art, art is the gap"

Art is recognition, the ability to make connections between things and ideas, to appreciate beauty in the world around us. And when it comes to beauty, a functioning homestead (or 'burbstead) is resplendent with it. Humans have a pretty hard time holding a candle to nature's ability to create things of aesthetic value. What we do have a knack for, if only we slow down and open our senses a bit, is the ability to appreciate the beauty - to see the gap. Gardens, kitchens, farms, markets, forests, all of them contain a wealth of sights, sounds, scents, tastes, and textures. Our job is merely to care for the world that makes them all possible.

So I leave you with a picture of something that caught my eye this morning as I was waterig the garden. For my money, an okra blossom is probably the prettiest flower that will show up in a vegetable garden. Squash vines have big, showy, bright orange cones, and melons, tomatoes, and cucumbers are covered with petite yellow ones; but an okra plant puts out a real flower with petals. They are the most subtle shade of pale greenish yellow, almost white. This contrasts wonderfully with the dark, rich, blood-red center, black stamen, and intense yellow orange pollen grains. Simply beautiful, especially when situated amongst the large, sap green stalks and leaves of the plant. Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. I was checking those out the other day in my garden over here on the bad side of the river. They are one of the few vegetables to put on a real flower, aren't they?