Friday, December 3, 2010

Presenting, Rudolf Steiner and Biodynamic Gardening!

I awoke today to a morning of drizzly rain; I had a feeling I wouldn't be out in the garden at 8am as previously planned. My suspicions were confirmed when Skye instead asked me to come on the daily morning walk with her and Finn, and we wandered down Rose Street and up a hill to visit Rascal, a retired racehorse, then up and down another hill to the church, were Skye introduced me to a woman named Rosalie. After finding out (in about twenty seconds from Skye) that I am a musician, she promptly roped me into singing at the church's Christmas Tree decorating celebration in a week or so! It's an event for little children, so I figured I could sing Charlotte Diamond's "The Giving Tree". As such, when we got back from the walk (soaking wet) I downloaded the song from iTunes, transcribed the lyrics, and am now transcribing the melody. I knew bringing blank staff paper would come in handy!

We had been back from the walk for about 45 minutes when the phone rang; it was Astrid, a friend of Skye's, inviting her to come see a play at Taruna College (where Skye went last night for her weekly study group). Skye declined, but suggested that I go in her stead, for a "cultural experience". So at 10:20am this morning I found myself wedged into a little car with Astrid, her partner Jullian, and their friend Penelope from Christchurch, whizzing down the backroads to the town of Havelock North and the Taruna College campus.

The play was called Harlequinade, a comedy by Stephen Chalmert. A brief plot summation: Aphrodite, goddess of love, is chastising her son, Eros, for his sport of shooting darts of love into the hearts of mortals. Eros asks Aphrodite to accompany him to earth, so she can see how love enriches the lives of humans. They descend to Paris in the 1800s, and watch the stock commedia dell'arte characters grapple with love: Punchinello, his faithful dog Toby in tow and determined to find a new wife, sets his sights on the lovely Columbine, but she is smitten with Harlequin, an eternal rascal. After being hit with one of Eros' darts himself, Harlequin falls desperately in love with Columbine, and to woo her cleans his soul so much that the ethereal (and goodly) half emerges as Pierrot. After a few twists and turns, all the characters end up with whom they most love, and Aphrodite realises Eros' actions are not merely boyish mischeif-making, but a way of causing mortals to adore love and worship her as the goddess of love even more. The play ended with all fifteen actors standing in a line on the stage, saying, "Though Love is found in every sort and size - one kind is best! Despise it not, although it seems so small. It's called: True Fellowship with all!"

A bit of fluff, to be sure, but I had a hard time enjoying myself; the acting was largely amateurish, and the singing as well. My musical and theatrical experience have robbed me of the ability to enjoy anything  remotely mediocre, espeicallly when performed by adults. I admit it, I'm an artistic elitist...

I don't suppose my views would go over well with Rudolf Steiner, the founder of the philosophical theorems upon which Taruna College is built. Known better in Canada as the man behind the philosophy of Waldorf Schools, Steiner is the founder of anthroposophy, ("human wisdom"), a belief in maximizing health and well-being by connecting with the readily accessible spirit world and cultivating a type of intellectual thinking without sensory input (if you're going "huh?" right now, I had the same reaction). I don't really have much more to say on the topic, as I don't like to criticize things I don't fully understand (although I don't really care to learn much more about this one, either). I'll just leave it at traditional education served me and many of my friends just fine.

Two fun things did happen after the play, however: I was standing outside waiting for Astrid to be done chatting to her friends so we could go, and a woman approached me and asked where I was from. Turns out her name is Rita, she's originally from Nova Scotia, and she has been to Duncan, as she used to coordinate placing Japanese students in homestays all over BC! It's crazy, the connections you make with home on the other side of the world.

The other fun thing was phoning the Forest Museum around 4pm BC time; Brian answered the phone, and I think I confused him for the first few seconds by not even saying hello, just demanding, "So, when can I hear that train whistle?!" It was great to talk to him and Ron, though, and I'll have to call back tomorrow so I can actually hear #25's whistle as she gets ready for her maiden run of the 2010 Christmas Express (god, do I wish I could be there).

One philosophy of Steiner's I am agreement with is biodynamic farming, a form of sustainable permaculture where the farm is treated as a living organism, and nothing new is introduced save for to make up with the nutrients lost with the export of food. It is a philosophy Skye employs in her garden, and as I spent the afternoon weeding, I clipped the roots off the grass I was pulling up, so the grass blades can be returned to the soil from whence they grew as mulch. I had my iPod set on shuffle, and as such Sarah McLachlan, Bree Sharp, Björk, Barenaked Ladies, Tori Amos, Eric Whitacre, Goo Goo Dolls, and BCMEA Honour Choir 2002 (te he) were all there keeping me company as I dug in the dirt.

Dinner tonight was beans, fresh potatoes, eggs from the hens across the road, and a salad featuring nasturtium blossoms from the garden... it looked so colourful and beautiful in the serving dishes it was almost a shame to eat it (but I'm glad we did, as it was delicious). The weather improved in the late evening, with even a few beams of sunlight poking through the clouds, so perhaps the weather will be favourable tomorrow, and I'll be able to work in the garden first thing in the morning as planned. Night!


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