Adaptations and Bruce Lee

Spring Creek still flowing enough to make the rocks moist providing critical access to water for pollinators

“Be like water” is one of the many amazing concepts shared by Bruce Lee, the martial arts legend. When David and I were studying Jeet Kune Do, Bruce Lee’s martial arts method, under our teacher John Castro, who was trained by the Gracie Brothers – and they trained by Bruce Lee – we learned more than how to move our body. We learned life lessons. This was one of the most profound. The concept of being like water is two fold. First, water takes on the shape, the contours of that which it occupies. It adapts. Second, it shapes and reacts. Think of the Merced river continuing the carving of the Yosemite Valley, yet finding a different path when confronted with a new barrier. Through its adaptation, it flows.

When designing and implementing a landscape, work with the land. Don’t try to dominate it. In the end, it is much more powerful than you anyway. This is a very indigenous value and why adaptive land management is more interesting to me than a purist landscape restoration ideology.

A massive gopher mound

I have stopped being mad at the gophers, and instead, am using their industry. I’ve been needing more soil to fill in around my plantings, and have been struggling to scrape up enough soil around the transplant holes. Then – I saw the gopher mounds in a new way – as fill dirt. The gophers have become my partners. The mound, for example, pictured above, is not the result of a mega monster Jurassic rodent. I am not really sure why this occurred. One of my stock troughs was flipped over for a while as I was waiting to get started on my new fountain project. The gophers, for some reason, continued to bore up under the trough. The result was this massive mound. Thank you gophers. I now have extra high quality local dirt to transplant the baby marigolds. Adaptive land management.

Marigold seedlings
Using a wind screen to protect the blooms. Note the slits in the screen.
A prime rose bloom destroyed by the wind

The wind blows very strong in the afternoons. In addition to drying out the soil, it has been destroying the gorgeous blooms on the prim rose. I used t-posts and shade cloth in a vertical orientation to slow the ferocity of the wind. The wind and I need to work together. So that my screen does not come crashing down, I must place slits in the shade cloth. This takes the full force of the pressure off the structure by allowing some of the wind to move through it. It is a common engineering practice; nothing new. However, it is another example of being adaptive – working with the elements rather than trying to control or dominate them.

Prikley lettuce blooms

As stated in my previous post, instead of spending energy on pulling weeds, use them for their nectar. Let them take some of the load off by providing even more food for pollinators. This said, there is one plant I “go to war with”- puncture vine (goat heads). Those are way too destructive and invasive. I pull them out wherever I see them – and have the energy to do so because I work with the Earth instead of to control it. Be like water. Adapt, align, flow.

Beauty At Spring Creek

A healthy bloom on a narrowleaf milkweed at Site 8, with a healthy showy milkweed in the background

Watering this past Sunday at the Spring Creek sites was uneventful – no pigs, no decimation, no sadness. I took the time to watch bees drink from the moist rocks in the creek. I sat with the milkweed and told them stories about the babies they will soon protect and feed. I touched the deer grass admiring their long, willowy sprouts hoping they will be home to painted lady butterflies in the Spring and maybe part of someones’ basket after their lengths were spent. I am fortunate to be one small part of many living things in nature, and that my time of consciousness on this planet will be spent improving things for the many and not constricting access to resources for the few. Through this blog, I am grateful for the opportunity to share these experiences – especially as people are more shut in – in the hopes that the stories and images will bring some level of connection with this process outside to people in their homes.

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