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On your relationship with nature

2019, Mar 12 | A Practice For Winter

Welcome to your chosen nature relatedness practice.

Our practices are divided into three equally powerful parts:
Storytelling, which aims to provide you with more knowledge on the subject we’re working with so you can flip the script on how you see it.
A Beginner’s Mind question built to ignite your curiosity and expand the way you think.
A ritual designed to aid you in manifesting your nature relatedness practice.

When you’ve completed the three steps, go ahead and do it again. You will soon feel your relation to nature building by each practice and start to reap the benefits from it; an increased feeling of happiness, a stronger ability to be present in the moment and feeling less lonely.

– Nature relatedness through finding comfort in food and nature and a recipe ritual for homemade peanut butter

My relationship with nature is an important part of who I am

That is the nature relatedness statement we are working from with this practice. Think about it for a while; how true is this for you?

What is your favourite comfort food? You know, that food that you turn to whenever you need a hug? Mine is peanut butter. The primary memory that it conjures up are wintry early mornings in the kitchen with my Dad, him making me raisin toast with a smear of creamy peanut butter and it melting in the nooks and crannies. To this day, I still eat peanut butter for breakfast most mornings. Peanut butter is a part of the best part of who I am. It is comfort. It is love.

Throughout the years, as my nature relatedness practice has strengthened, the more I have learned about regenerative food systems, and the more my relationship with peanut butter as my comfort food has become about my relationship with nature.

Exploring things like our comfort foods and how they define us is great way to explore how important your relationship with nature is to your identity.  You may find that as you prioritise your relationship with nature, what you eat for comfort will begin to change. That is how building a nature relatedness habit can change not only how you think, but how you act  – from head to hands to habit.

Watch the video below for a a perspective to put you in the right mindset for your nature relatedness practice.

How do squirrels find the nuts they bury?

That is the Beginner’s Mind question that will aid you in your nature relatedness practice.  To help expand your curiosity, watch the video below and then think with us. Explore how this small animal knows its role within the nature its part of. What can we learn from squirrels that we can take with us in our daily lives?

Ritual – Homemade Peanut Butter

The historical context

“When you can do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.”  The author of this quote, George Washington Carver, had remarkable creative skills. The source of his most renowned inspiration? Humankind´s relationship to soil. His muse? The peanut, of course!

Carver began his life in slavery in America. When Congress passed the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery, his boundless curiosity and drive to move the Southern States away from intensive cotton farming fuelled his academic ambitions, eventually leading him to direct the Agricultural Department at Tuskegee University. Carver saw the intersection between environmental and social justice. He understood that the reliance on the cotton cash crop contributed to the culture and economics of division and dominance. He understood that even if agriculture produce was diversified, that farmer´s with no means of accessing capital could not afford the commercial feed and fertilizer conventionally thought a necessity to grow on degraded soil. He understood that monocrop agriculture was stripping life from the soil upon which everyone depended, without giving anything back. He strove to bring justice to agriculture for people and planet. An uncommon approach to a very common action.

So – why peanuts?

Why peanuts? Well, they aren´t nuts at all. They are legumes. Legumes possess nitrogen fixation super powers. Leaves, stems, seeds, flowers, and nuts are sources of food for the billions of microorganisms that live in soil and make it able to foster new life.  All plants absorb nitrogen from the soil, but legumes also absorb nitrogen and process it into amino acids, which, when strung together, create proteins. When legumes decompose, they feed carbon AND nitrogen into the soil, making it stronger and healthier. Through death, they enable creation. The cycle of life in action.

Carver set out to harness the peanut´s power of creation.  He created more than 100 methods of using the peanut that people would find useful to build a market for peanut farming.  You think the idea of vegan nut milk is a 21st century invention? Carver was promoting peanut milk at the start of the 20th century. Peanuts took off because they are environmentally beneficial, nutritious, delicious, and they store well.

Rituals aid my nature relatedness practice

This week we have been exploring the Nature Relatedness Scale statement: my relationship with nature is an important part of who I am.  I love George Washington Carver´s story because it reveals how our relationship with nature extends to everything that we do: our social systems, our economic systems, and surely the food that we eat. I shared with you at the beginning of this week that my favourite comfort food is peanut butter. That all began with warm childhood memories. But, the importance of peanut butter in my life has grown as my knowledge about food systems has grown, which is the product of developing my ability with beginner´s mind. How do I turn those thoughts into habits and go on a journey on the nature relatedness scale? Once a week, I make homemade peanut butter and throughout this ritual try to get somewhat Carver-like and focus on how this exchange with but one form of nature could help me to be the change in this world for people and for planet. #fromheadtohandstohabit

peanut-butter-rolls

Recipe

Makes about 250 grams of peanut butter

Ingredients

500 grams of peanuts in the shell
1 teaspoon of table salt
Optional: a tablespoon of honey to make your peanut butter sweeter

Method

Sit down with two bowls.  One for your peanut shells and skins and one for your naked peanuts. Get shelling! This is one of those meditative moments where you become a part of the food making process that we usually let other people or machines do for us. It takes me a half hour or forty-five minutes to shell 500 grams of peanuts.  Sometimes I let it take longer, just because I like looking at the endless variation in shapes of the peanut shells. It is almost like laying back, looking at the clouds and imagining their shapes as lions, tigers and bears (oh my!) The endless variations connect me to my own creativity and how it mirrors that of the vast fertile world beneath our feet that I cannot see, but on which my life depends.

Now it is time for transformative action. Put your peanuts into a food processor or blender. Blend your nuts altogether for about 7 minutes.  I urge you to pause every minute or two to take off the top of your machine and look at the transformation in front of you. As the molecular structure of your peanut is reconfigured, a whole new form emerges. As the form changes, the aroma becomes more intense. Lean into the process of change through which creation is born.  Practically, pausing helps you to scrape down the sides of your blender or food processor as well! When I use my machine, I find that when I reach the 6 to 7 minute mark, magic happens. The hard crunchy nuts become a silky, creamy butter. When you get to that point, feel free to add a tablespoon of honey if you like sweetness in your peanut butter.  I sometimes do this if I am intending to use my peanut butter to make cookies. Then transfer your butter to an old jar that you have washed out. It will keep for months in a cool dry cupboard.

You are not done quite yet. What to do with all of those peanut shells?  Well, as you are now a George Washington Carver devotee, you know that those shells are packed full of nitrogen that the life in soil needs to create new life.  I simply break up the shells further with my hands to create a crude mulch. I mix the shells into the soil in the planters on my balcony, my houseplants, or even distribute them in a local park.  After all, this is the lean season what a great time to feed the soil so that the cycle of creation continues in the spring. Be a part of it.