Monday, January 10, 2011


I find it hard to get excited about the New Year and the loud expressions - fireworks, parties etc - which signal this event.  I also find it hard to celebrate this at one moment.  For me the New Year came in  more gradually.

It started on December 21st, at the Winter Solstice which this year was also the full moon.  On that night I went to our stone circle and sat there for a while in the moonlight and the next day painted this picture.

In the days following we worked very hard in the garden as the rains almost stopped and we had to make good all the flood damage of the monsoon.  This meant putting a lot of compost on the beds to compensate for all the nutrients that had leached out with the flood water.  After that we planted seedlings  - especially tomatoes, lettuce and roccolla - which are our main cool season plants.

Today I looked at our 28 raised beds, most of which are now fully planted and growing. Slowly, silently, the year had turned.  What I was looking at were the new plants for the new season that starts the new year.  The transition from one year to the next was complete and the new year had arrived.

Saturday, December 25, 2010


Today is Christmas day and I feel lonely so I am connecting with as many people as I can by writing to them.  Some of them don’t have email so they won’t receive what I have written for a few weeks, but even as I sit and write to them I feel myself connecting with them.

It has been a difficult month as I have been ill with dysentery.  It was so dark and wet and with no current (no sun so little or no electricity) and feeling very unloved – it was a very difficult time.  Since the beginning of the year I have taken on new roles in the Farmgroup related to the wider community – sitting on different groups and that sort of thing – and some of that has been very challenging.  I’m not much good at that sort of stuff and much prefer to work and grow Buddha Garden and do my own writing and painting.  I also think I have not been looking after myself properly and have gradually got rather down physically as well as being rather depressed.

Its difficult to know what to do.  Should I say ‘no’ to this work?  Or is there something for me to learn here?  I seem to get ‘messages’ that despite the difficulties I should carry on, but I was shocked at how ill I was and it seems to be taking some time to build myself up again. My insides still feel very sensitive and tender.  One thing I did decide was that I needed some sort of practice that would keep me in touch with myself and with God/Divine/Universe.  It is not enough just to keep work, work, working although of course for me that can be very creative and a source of growth. 

So I have started doing a yoga practice before I go to work in the morning (at 6.15am).  My yoga teacher said I should do it at that time and I was very resistant.  I thought it would add yet another lot of stress in having to get up early, but I seem to have taken to it really easily.  I wake up early with no problems and the regular asanas and meditation seem to be doing me a lot of good.  Only this last week I have watched how things have shifted almost effortlessly as I get rid of work that was weighing me down and decided that I wouldn’t engage in some of the stuff that was going on in the Farmgroup. 

So maybe I will find a way to do this work that is creative for me and doesn’t jeopardise my health.   I have given myself three months and if after that time things still don’t feel right then I will have to look anew at what I am doing.  It helps that every morning I do something with the earth that anchors me, whether it is weeding or clearing a bed or mulching or planting for the new season that has come upon us.

Monday, November 29, 2010


It has been extremely wet this month.  It started with a cyclone that fortunately didn't last too long which was followed by days of persistent rain.  Trees have come down and one of our gardens is still flooded, but somehow we have managed to continue working.  We have managed to provide some food for our community although some of the plants are looking somewhat moth eaten and yellow.  The wet weather encourages the growth of  slugs and snails that eat the plants as well as leaching out nutrients in the soil that weaken the plants and make them more susceptible to pests and diseases.  The grey skies mean that often we have been short of electricity which means I can't spend too much time on my computer.  It has been a challenging time when I feel that more of my energy than usual has been spent just in getting through each day.

I was walking around the garden yesterday.  Parts of it were (and still are) flooded and very muddy and other parts felt saturated with water.  Walking on this sort of earth is like walking on a blancmange.  There is a distinct sense of the ground wobbling as I walk over it.

I found it disconcerting to feel what is usually so solid to suddenly become so soft and seemingly unsubstantial.  It made me realise how even the most solid seeming things can change; mountains can explode, rocks can topple and even the earth under our feet can move if there is an earthquake.  But it is a good reminder of how even the most solid seeming things can change into something different and that what is unchanging is elsewhere.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


Since the beginning of the year I have found myself being drawn into doing things that take me away from the work on the land. I have found myself more and more involved with Farmgroup administration, which has led to me spending a lot of my time taking and writing up meeting notes. In addition I find myself sitting on a lot of other groups, one of which takes up one whole day each week. While this can be quite interesting, a lot of the time I feel that this is not what I really want to do.

Yet it is work that needs to be done, and as quite a few people have pointed out, I have the skills for doing it. It is also work that needs to be shared amongst several people in the Farmgroup, as it is too much for one or two people to do.

Every day I see a plant in Buddha Garden that has not only managed to grow, but seemingly to flourish, even although it is set in cement.

Obviously the message is that I can grow anywhere. So why do I find it so hard to accept the work that is coming my way right now? Why do I want it to be different?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


In the last week I have been picking the last of the beans before the monsoon and musing on my relationship to these plants. How picking them is an exercise in balancing the growth of the plants so that they grow as many beans as possible for as long as possible.

All plants that we call vegetables produce them in an effort to grow seed, although we often eat them before they get to the seed producing stage. Once the plants have grown seed, if they are annuals (ie seeds planted every year) they stop producing and the plant dies. The long beans I have been picking are eaten at a stage of growth before they produce seed. Thus the more we pick, the more beans the plant grows as it tries to produce seed. It is important to pick all the beans that are ready for eating, otherwise they stay on the plant to grow to the stage where they produce seed and the plant gets the message to stop growing more beans.

Picking beans is therefore an exercise in balancing the plant. In making sure that all the beans that are ready have been picked, but not picking any beans that are not ready for eating. In that way we can keep the bean plant producing for the most amount of time although of course eventually it does get old and die.

It made me think about the balance I don't have in my life at the moment. How I seem to be too busy doing things I 'have' to do leaving me with too little time to do the things I 'want' or 'need' to do for my own health and well being. Unlike the bean plants I cannot rely on anyone else to create this balance for me.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Ever since my house was broken into just over a month ago I have been unable to write or paint. The thieves got in by breaking the jalleys (cement shapes that let in the light) in two windows which meant there was a huge amount of mess to clear up and repairs to do. I also ended up doing something which I have resisted for some time which was to put metal bars  at all the windows. Which of course meant even more mess and disruption while that was being done.

During this time I have found it impossible to write or paint and hence the gap in my posts on this blog. Every day I managed to do the necessary work but I had neither the inspiration or the energy for any kind of creative endeavor. It wasn't just the lack of time and all the disruption.  I felt that something had shut down inside me. I felt dry.

Yet without all was wet, as we experienced much more rain than usual at this time of year. At one point we had three days of grey skies and rain that was more like the monsoon than the usual  showers and thunderstorms of the summer rains.  At one point we started to go short of electricity  as no sun = no electricity when you depend on solar power.  Although there were no floods at times it got very soggy.

It was the water that finally unlocked my spirit.

One early morning as I walked from my house to the garden I looked up at the sky and saw the most beautiful rainbow over the full moon that was just setting in the west. For some reason we don't see many rainbows here and those we have are often quite faint and don't last long. But because of the sun coming from the rising sun this one had clear colours in a clear blue sky and seemed to last longer than most. 

A few days later, as a result of that mysterious process known as 'creation' or maybe 'inspiration'  I felt something unlock within me and I painted the following picture:

 And as I painted I knew the drought was over and that my creative river was flowing again.  I felt blessed.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


For the last week or so we have, for the first time this year, had no volunteers staying in Buddha Garden. It has come at a good time as we are just in the process of finishing a lot of building work - inner fence and 16 new raised beds. We hope these changes will make it easier to grow more food for the community with our volunteer labour.

Now it seems that this is changing as two volunteers turned up yesterday and several are booked to come later this month. I was working with the two volunteers this morning and as usual they asked a lot of questions about Auroville; how I came to be there, what I thought of various issues.

Then one of them asked me 'Are you happy in Auroville?'

At the time we were weeding and I realised that yes, at that moment, doing the job I was doing, being in contact with the earth and the plants, I was very happy indeed. At that moment I was in contact with the real spirit of Auroville, doing something that brings me great joy creating something for the community.

It is a moment to carry in my heart and feel again next time I am upset by something I see going on in my life. A moment that is like a present from the earth which I feel very privileged to care for.