A letter

Dear lovely reader,

I invite you to join me on my escapade of discovery. What am I looking for? Well that, my friend is a good question. I speculate that my compass is aligned to uncover a wilder version of myself. A version that has the tools and knowledge to live a more sustainable & natural life, more inherently connected to mother earth.

I seek what we have lost. Over a mere few hundred years the chasm between man and nature has grown ever more vast by our own hand. Now our way of existence irrefutably threatens the integrity of the complex ecosystems that we rely on for survival. It is my belief that it is time (yesterday) to turn away from the exploitation, pollution and destruction of our natural resources. We need to re-build, from the dirt up, one individual’s choices at a time.

This is where my story begins, and as I write this, I do not know how it will end (do any of us?)

2020The worst year of my life so far, but also one of the best.
Let me explain this contradiction
and the events which have led to the realisation of this initiative;

New Years Day was spent in an evacuation camp at Narooma in NSW. A group of friends and I had planned to get together for a camping trip at Mystery Bay to celebrate the new year. This was right in the middle of the Black Summer Bushfires and we awoke on New Years Eve to blackened skies and crisped gum leaves falling like rain. That day, the sun never rose. It was constant soot and smoke in your eyes and an unsteady feeling of intense anxiety. The air was so toxic it gave you headaches, a sore throat and made us feel woozy. There was no escape. We got to the Narooma evacuation point (along with hundreds of other refugees) to be informed that the surrounding roads were shut. The town lost power which meant the fuel stations couldn’t pump fuel. We lost telephone reception so we couldn’t even call our families to let them know we were safe, or to wish them a happy new year. Long story short, it was a New Years I’ll never forget. We were the lucky ones. We came fully stocked with camping supplies and food. Some residents were forced to flee with their young children, pets and all their valuables, not knowing if their home would be there when they could return. Some lost their lives.

After a dire turn of events, I made it home safely. Through smoke and dust and flames. Home to Gulgong where the land was so dry, cracks a hundred metres long opened up in the red clay. Not a speck of grass was left in our paddock, thick dust covered every surface. This was the summer that some farmers locked up their gates for good after putting their surviving breeding stock, starving, out of their misery. I heard a story about an old man from Dunedoo who after months of buying feed and carting water for his cattle, ran out of money and had to abandon his farm and animals. He scraped up just enough to buy a ticket to put his wife on a bus heading to distant family, and then had to hitchhike in the hot sun, thinking about how he’d lost everything, not knowing if he would ever be able to return.

The drought eventually broke, but not before it broke the spirits and banks of many Australians. The severity of the ‘big dry’ and the black summer fires can not be overstated. I hope I never experience such horrific conditions again. With the way our civilisations trajectory is going, it’s probable that these kinds of ‘unnatural’ disasters will become the new norm.

A video I made showing the transformation at our property from drought to rain.

Around the same time the rain started to fall, the first headlines about the coronavirus flashed on our TV screens. We all know what has happened and frankly, I’m sick of talking about it! The uncertainty and hysteria about it is an anomaly that few of us know how to cope with.

As the pandemic escalated in Australia, I was living and working full time as a marketing manager and designer, in an office in Sydney and had been doing so for the past 3 years. I felt the growing tension around covid-19 intensely. People’s reaction to the situation was so varied and everyone had different opinions. Talking about the issue was like walking on eggshells. No one had answers. The media created a sense of fear unlike anything I’ve seen and Scomo’s leadership, in my opinion, was nothing short of abysmal. I no longer felt comfortable in the city. The vulnerabilities of life in such a densely populated area were exposed, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I couldn’t bear the thought of being locked down, in my apartment, alone, away from my family. So I left.

This decision is what turned 2020 around for me. Moving back to my hometown and to my family restored my sense of hope. I felt the love of a community again, something that is difficult to find in a city environment. How wonderful it was to fill my lungs with pure air once more, to see the clarity of the Milky Way in all its magnificent glory. I relinquished my drudging daily commute, my depressed housemate and my uber eats addiction. I had time to think. With no noise, no planes roaring overhead, no sirens blaring down my street, just think.

Those first two weeks of being home I slept a lot! It was like all the stress and impact of the past few months hit me all at once. I realised how unhealthy I was, mentally and physically, and resolved to heal myself. I banned myself from news websites and limited my social media exposure. I started to practice meditation and rediscovered my love for yoga. I spent a lot of time alone, journaling, hanging out with my dogs, reading and researching permaculture.

I discovered permaculture on youtube, a few years ago when I was living in Sydney. I stumbled upon one of Geoff Lawton’s videos and was instantly hooked on the ideas, ethics and practices of permaculture. These stories excited me! With all the tragedy in the world, here, on the other side of the coin was a global community of environmentalists doing great things to improve their communities’ ways of life. Through natural means, building resilience through growing food, recycling, trade and working together. Learning about permaculture became my escape from the hustle and bustle, it was how I explored my love for our natural environment in the concrete jungle.

The creators of Permaculture; Bill Mollison and David Holmgren
at APC9 in Sydney, 2008. Photo: Russ Grayson

Now I had more time to learn about permaculture and I also had the space. Not long after I moved home to the farm we planted our first vegetable garden (most of the seeds were sold out because of panic buying). We started with some brassicus and onions, rocket and carrots. I started composting and expanded the veggie patch to another corner of the yard. I was working from home at that time and I would get up early to sow some more seeds, weed the beds or turn the compost. Then in my lunch break I would be propagating my neighbours fruit trees and in the evening I would be watching permaculture documentaries and videos on youtube. It became a real focus of my daily life. The more I learned about permaculture the more I felt that it’s teachings held the answers to some of the worlds most pronounced problems. Here was a comprehensive guide and framework about how we could live sustainably, caring for the land and the people in an ethical and fair way. Why have most people not heard about it? This is a question I don’t know the answer to.

Moving away from the city and removing myself from the drama’s of the coronavirus (which I recognise is a privilege that not everyone has, and that I am extremely grateful for) has given me clarity. It is clear to me that I have found a path worth pursuing. I am aligned with my passions and talents and through permaculture design I have found a creative outlet and occupation which ignites a deep sense of meaning and satisfaction in my life. This is only the beginning and I have much to learn. I am determined to make a positive difference in this world however small. I wish to unify my passions for permaculture, design and writing and thus, this website was born. Welcome to Wilderland.

Wilderland is a personal project and journal that is evolving as I sink my roots into the Permaculture world. It is a response to my travels, research and interactions as I discover a more fulfilling and meaningful way to live. While on this path I hope to inspire others by sharing my insights and experiences in a creative way.

Thank you for reading,

For the wild,

Maddi

1 Comment

  1. Maddie
    Loved your introduction and your passion and enthusiasm
    Planted a permaculture garden at Red Hill ECC when I opened it in 1995
    There are a lot of people following the lifestyle however they are a drop
    In the ocean of massive consumerism
    It is great to hear of your passion as I have become a little disillusioned over the years when the world takes one step forward for the environment and then 20 backwards.
    Enjoy your journey and set the fire alight
    Look forward to more x

    Like

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