Blazing New Trails
By Joe Cowan
Director of Operations
Eight acres is a huge amount of space to garden. When we moved to North Yarmouth, Maine, the property and gardens were completely overgrown. Any trails or manmade landscape features were unrecognizable or no longer existed. Instead of looking at the downside of that, we viewed it as a completely blank canvas for us to realize our dream garden on a massive scale. Gardening to us has a few different meanings; on one hand, gardening means planting and harvesting fruits, flowers, and vegetables that we like to eat; and on the other hand, gardening means finding joy in nature. We are doing a lot of the first type of gardening, with terrace garden beds dedicated to fruit and vegetables, as well as some nice English gardens started already. We now have some room for the second type of gardening. In the back yard and up a steep slope, there is a large and very flat plateau that is rectangular and in dense, overgrown woods.
For the past nine months, I have been cutting trails that run along the perimeter of our property. Wider in some areas and more narrow in others, the trail is now finished to the point that it is recognizable and clear enough to walk with a cart or sled. I usually do the whole walk twice per day, which is roughly ¾ mile each time and lasts 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the wildlife Joy sniffs out. But each time, especially on sunny days when it’s a little warmer outside, the feelings of fulfillment and happiness simply flood the senses.
Human interaction with nature can be fraught with mistakes and well intentioned failures. However, I can clearly see the positive result of my early clearing efforts. The sides of the trail that get more light now are significantly more verdant and healthy looking. The plan going forward is to continue clearing paths and foot trails, and slowly add more light to our forest garden.
It’s easy to get stuck in a food rut. We’ve all been there at some point in our lives. I remember a time when I existed solely on loaded potatoes, cheddar cheese and coleslaw. This was my go-to dish almost every day for about a year. I loved it. I could probably still eat it today. But there comes a time when we move on from childhood comfort foods and discover other culinary delights. I have a ‘gut’ feeling stuffed cabbage rolls could become one of my favorite go-to meals, and maybe yours too.
What would you think if I told you I use it as pizza sauce, smothered on grilled ham and cheese, as an omelette filling, in cocktails and with Hors D’oeuvres? Whether it’s strawberry, blueberry, fig, apricot or other fruits, this scrumptious spread compliments many delicious dishes. And the best thing about it is, when preserved using the water bath (WB) canning method, you can enjoy this tasty treat all year round.
Since the writings of Democritus in ancient Greece about 2,500 years ago, humanity has grown more and more accustomed to thinking in purely material terms. Increasingly, in normal conversation, we refer to actions, thoughts, and feelings that we have as being caused by certain chemicals found in our bodies. We often hear people say that oxytocin causes them to feel close to another person, or that “my hormones” are off or raging or low, as explanations for certain behaviors. We claim that diseases such as “bipolar disorder” are caused by a chemical imbalance in our blood.