Saturday, September 26, 2009

Behind Open Doors

I stopped by my daughter's this evening. She couldn't wait to pass on the gossip. "My massage therapist said she went to your farm on the Permaculture tour. She was really impressed! She liked your farm best of all--she said it was the most neat and tidy, and all the tools were put away, and there were beautiful crops growing...."

Music to my ears, even though we looked one another in the eye and burst out laughing.

I try. I really do. And partly, I schedule events at the farm every month if I can, just to give myself an incentive to get it tidied up on a regular basis. To see it through other's eyes, for it's esthetics, rather than through my own jaded practical eyes that tend to see unfinished projects and undone work more than any irrelevant clutter. The "event effect" DOES make a difference, over time.

But also, I get better at preparing for such events. I understand more and more what casual visitors notice, and what they don't. So I can impress them with less work.

This evening, that was brought home when I went to show the new WWOOFer his way around the bike shed. Well! We couldn't get in the door--and it doesn't even have a door! The bike (hm, I guess the last I rode it was BEFORE the Permaculture tour) was somewhere under and behind: A scrounged 1950's step stool (I sold my red one like that before I went to Canada), two garage sale bar stools (for a friend to make kumihimo looms out of), a box of extra coat hangers (someone said they wanted them, but hasn't come by for them yet), an almost-empty (but not quite) antifreeze jug, a stack of flower pots....

THAT'S why my daughter's massage therapist thought the farm looked so neat and tidy!

I commented to the WWOOFer, "If you ever see a farm that's all neat and tidy, you can be sure they have a shed somewhere that looks like this."

The secret is putting it out of the direct line of sight, and knowing when to distract your visitors. What tourist is going to notice the contents of the dark shadowy inside of the open-front shed, when I'm regaling them with stories about the bee colonies as we walk by? Much easier to tell good stories than to figure out better places for all these odds and ends, most of which are in transition anyhow.

If tools look like they've just been laid down, and will be picked up again any minute, it looks like work in progress instead of clutter. Therefore preparation for an event includes putting away all the tools that are lurking under vines and grass--and leaving out those that look like someone just walked away from a project 10 minutes ago.

But the grass under them has to be neatly mowed. Neatly mowed lanes make any surrounding anarchy look purposeful and under control. Especially if you refer to it with high-falutin' words like "fallow" and "wildlife feeding area".

I know the truth. So do those who know me and the farm well. But it's still nice to know I fooled someone. And, in truth, I do think the farm looks better than usual this fall.

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