Right now I have about enough time to either balance my checkbook or write a disjointed blog post.
Life is all about balance.
Last weekend Phil and I took a short and intense Advanced Permaculture Design charette with 3 other students. When our instructor Jono arrived, we were also met by a juvenile bald eagle landing in the trees nearby. We all stood gaping momentarily, then watched it fly off. A good omen, we all surmised.
For 4 days we extensively mapped a plot of land, the site of an old farm. We looked, studied, discussed, and looked more. We brainstormed on design concepts, discussed vague and specific solutions. I personally learned more about landform and how water moves in the landscape, and it really strengthened my mapping skills. I am feeling slightly more confident in what I know, and inspired by how much more there is to explore and learn. In the end, we came out of the experience with more questions, but also feeling so much stronger as designers and as a community. As Phil kept repeating, "This is REALLY advanced permaculture." It was wonderful.
For the weekend, most of the participants camped at the Nature Center. Phil and I opted to sleep in TreeTops, the huge tree house/fort at the CNC, that I've mentioned before. The first morning, we had another intense wildlife encounter: A momma raccoon was fighting in a hollow oak tree with another raccoon (who we presume was an intruder). All four of her tiny, fluffy, wondrously cute babies were scrambling away on the farthest tiniest branches of this huge hollow oak tree, now probably 70 feet high (at our eye level from inside the fort).
We watched the battle, listening to the horrid raccoon-fighting sounds (like a mix between cats, lions, and monsters) from 5:30am to about 7:15am. It was so terrifying, and I was so scared for the babies. The momma got out, and climbed the nearby trees to reach her little ones, but they were stuck with the intruder between them and safety. Then, to our horror, one of the little ones fell all 70 feet down, and hit the bridge leading into TreeTops. Phil and I rushed down all the steps, hearts in our throats.
He lay there, breathing heavily for maybe 5 minutes. I sat and cried and cried, not able to look up at the momma 'coon who had seen her baby fall. Slowly, the little raccoon rose and took a few steps, and Phil went up to him, saying, "Are you okay?" like he was talking to a tiny child. But we couldn't tell, and once we had given up our secret post from TreeTops, all the forest seemed to be frozen in silence. So, we left for maybe 20 minutes, sending prayers and reassurance and strength to the furry family, hoping that left to themselves, they would figure out what to do next. When we returned, there were no raccoons to be found.
The next night, we saw the momma again on the oak tree. From inside, we heard the chirps and trills of young raccoons. Had they moved back in? Or could this be another family that replaced the displaced ones? I wonder if we'll ever know.