Each time I read the word Mother Nature, it makes me pause. I find it bothersome that we personify nature as female, only so we can exploit and abuse it unceremoniously.
We continue to worship Father God but wring out life from the manifestation, Mother Nature: We respect in concept and violate in reality, how can that not be bothersome?
We divide an otherwise unified force into male and female, into thought and action, into belief and disregard, in the way that we divide ourselves into mind and body. A false dichotomy, because when the body needs water, the mind feels the thirst. When the mind feels joyful, the body is light, and there’s a bounce in our step.
A little retuning may teach us a valuable lesson: ‘Don’t trust that which inclines the mind towards dichotomy.’ Black and white are not contrasting colours, they are shades on the grayscale, and earth and sky both have electromagnetic activity. Why then accept Father God and Mother Nature?
In the semi-rural setting of Goa, India, I begin to pay attention to ease, and where it can be experienced in our surroundings. I walk on a floor made of cow-dung and my calf muscles sigh in relief. I sit in the cool shade of a tree canopy in sweltering heat and my heart sings. I read words written on stone with chalk: ‘May our connections grow more loving’ (translated from Bangla, one of the 19,500 mother tongues or dialects spoken in India) and my mind awakens to the purity of thought.
Image courtesy: natureWORKS, Pilerne, Goa (India)
I water plants on a mud path covered with dry leaves and my steps feel light. I eat a papaya ripened on a tree that is growing in soil fed by dry leaves and manure from decomposed human and food waste. Half a papaya makes my body feel nourished and sated and I notice that I feel no hunger or thirst as night sets in and I slip into slumber. I meditate in a veranda surrounded by trees and observe as the mosquitoes buzz in my ears and chew at my flesh. I realise then that the sensation is not as troublesome as the reaction, only to resume reacting till I can relax and return patiently to the ease of realisation.
Ease, I discover, is the plane on which Father God meets Mother Nature. It’s where all that is created unites with all that is being created. The creator is the process of creation—Father God is Mother Nature!
Welcome, Maad (coconut tree in Konkani, the local language of Goa).
Pedestal up, like in a movie shot, and what do I see on the plane of ease? Gyrating fronds or leaves of a coconut tree.
- The coconut tree when in bloom gives us Neera, a refreshing and sweet drink extracted from the flower clusters of mature trees.
- The gyrating fronds weave unresistingly into thread-less mats to sleep on, and they make an airy, privacy fence that doesn’t block the breeze.
- The leaves or fronds shade mud roofs and prevent them from cracking in the heat of the tropical sun.
- The tree’s fruit pulp is a delicious and revitalising appetite filler.
- From the pulp comes coconut cream and milk that is used in many cuisines and desserts.
- The water in the fruit is a blessing on a hot day.
- Fibre from the outer husk of the coconut can fill our mattresses and be used as a loofah for dishes or to exfoliate the skin on our feet.
- Coconut fibre is also good to layer soil. It improves drainage and it retains moisture.
- The shells of the coconut make an appealing boundary for plants and prevent precious, well-composted soil from being washed away.
- Coconut shells make earthy-looking soap dishes and are handy bowls for our easily acquired, all natural, zero cost, and zero waste, coconut-fibre loofah.
- The roots of the tree are medicinal.
- The bark (of a tree that has completed its lifespan) can be used to build our shelters and to make furniture.
All this and more from a tree that needs negligible care.
Pedestal down and there you are, and I am, resting blissfully in the shade of the tree: ‘Father God, please meet Mother Nature.’
A little about natureWORKS from the family that lives on the land and is sharing the experience with me: ‘natureWORKS is a sustainable homestead we are creating with mud and alternate architecture, amidst a food forest. We use only recycled and upcycled doors, windows, timber, roof and floor tiles. Also, other second-hand materials, like glass, steel, and aluminium, that would otherwise end up in junkyards or landfills. We aim to keep our carbon footprint as tiny as possible. Most living will be out doors, under the trees with only cooking and sleeping at night done indoors, especially during the rains. Our lifestyle is simple, basic, frugal, and fairly radical. The homestead, for us, our 95 year old mum and our two children, is purely for family use. It’s not really a “Dream Home,” as something to be selfishly attached to, or be house proud of, or show off about. But it definitely is part of a blueprint and roadmap for sustainable living on our planet.’