Here at An Gáirdín we arrived at the stage where we no longer felt at ease with our machines – lawn-mowers, strimmers and hedge cutters. There are probably a few factors which led to our decision to go petrol free in the garden. Perhaps one reason is the same as that which led us to using the ‘no-dig ‘method in the growing area – a heightening awareness of our connection with the soil and of sensitivity to the multiplicity of life there. Also the noise of those machines somehow were an intrusion on the energy and ambience of the place. Then there was, in our case, the unnecessary use of fossil fuel. There is something too about working with one’s hands as opposed to just following a machine.
“The craft of questions, the craft of stories, the craft of the hands – all these are the making of something, and that something is soul.” Clarissa Pinkola Estes.
So what then?
The scythe and hedge clippers needed to be dusted down! But that wasn’t enough, as we very quickly realised that we had either never seen a scythe or never used one. Paul Kingsnorth, who teaches scything, came to our aid. On our course yesterday we had 10 eager participants from 10am – 3pm learning to assemble the parts, sharpen the blades and ease into the rhythm. All were amazed with how quickly they could mow the meadow with competence and confidence, a tribute to Paul’s teaching skills.