November 10, 2009.

Hello from the island of St. Croix.  After a hurried week of last minute projects, packing and snugging up the homestead for my winter absence, I am now sitting here in the US Virgin Islands.

My skin is warm and coated in the feeling of having the humidity and exertion of a good day out in the hot tropical sun. There is a fragrant breeze blowing from the east, and a morning dove cooing out in the lush emerald green tropical forest that I am looking out over.  I can’t see the ocean from my spot up here on this deck at the USVI sustainable farming institute, but your eye is always busy taking in the amazing view of a vibrant rainforest and tropical permaculture farm. http://www.visfi.org/

Today was my second day on the farm.  I am camping under the swishing of bamboo leaves, one of the farms many diverse agroforestry systems.  Last night as I was trying to calm my mind after the flurry of transitioning from the start of the New England winter to this warm oasis in the Caribbean, I heard some horses passing through the bamboo next to my tent.  Later an owl was calling up on the hillside where bananas and palms are planted in what was compacted pasture only 8 years ago.  Rain fell during the night.  It was hot and muggy, but after the tenseness in my body as I prepared myself for the long dark and cold days of winter, my heart was singing to be held warm and lovingly in the rainforest’s bosom as I fell contentedly fast asleep.

Today’s activities were full of thoughtful immersion into the principles and ethics of permaculture.  Ethan and Dynami have set up a wonderfully experiential and playful experience for the nine students who descended from around the world and the island to attend this course.  Yesterday we began to get to know each other by moving from some trust falls, into a group climb up into the expansive limbs of an enormous mother tree whose lower branch spread about 40 feet away from it’s truck.  My heart was racing and my legs shook as I inched my way up the branch about 30 feet above the ground so that the whole class could get up into the tree.  Not what I was expecting, but after we all made it safely down and discussed how the experience affected us.  We all realized what a powerful and memorable lesson we had experienced.

The tree climb will stick in my mind as a powerful metaphor of how a committed group working together can accomplish challenges that even the participating members may not believe is possible.   Earlier in the day, we had thrown up a list of all the seemingly insurmountable challenges that face humanity at this critical time in human history : climate chaos, bio-devistation (mass extinctions), loss of native peoples and all the knowledge they hold, water scarcity, pollution, climate change refugees, the list was sobering and depressing,.  Yet here we were sitting amidst this amazingly inspiring example of what is possible instead.  And a living example in our own bodies of what we can accomplish with the help of a supportive community when we are all challenged with the same seeminly insurmountable task.  A great start.  I am looking forward to the next several days of the course, and my journey here at this farm as I explore some alternatives to how I’ve been living my own life.  I am hoping to find some new options to bring abundance, resilient happiness and love into my heart and soul and purposeful activities that will help solve these challenges we face around the planet into my daily existence.  Join me in my journey…

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