Red Shoulder Hawk

Red Shoulder Hawk

Saturday, May 16, 2009

In the Flow: Reuniting People and Restoring Landscape

My amazing friend Bonita held a reunion of sorts at Mariposa Grove. Friends, former neighbors and teachers flowed through the community from early afternoon until late at night, celebrating her and the connections we had with her and through her and with each other. I first met her when she lived here and I took the permaculture training class. She left to pursue her own goals more fully a few months after we moved in. She knows the space as it was, when fewer permie principles had manifested in the intentional community. She is... a priestess, an incarnation of the divine, a full and present participant in the dance of life. I grow and become a better person by simply being around her.

She and her partner are planning the water system for their homestead, so she was curious about ours.

"We've directed rain from my roof and the neighbor's into this trough," I said, indicating the french drain we built. "It flows to this catch basin filled with drain rock. The catch basin is about 3 feet deep. When it fills, there's an overflow channel to carry water below ground level to the edge of the property. In the dry season, we have a diverter valve at the laundry so we can drain our gray water into the basin."

"What's the purpose of the catch basin?" She asked.

"We want to recharge the ground water aquifer. The water table is pretty high here, but the bay is very close, too. Salination is probably not a problem, but it might be someday. We've identified that the back of this property used to be a shallow stream. Water flows downhill towards us not only from the immediate neighbor's roof, but the two properties beyond are hardscaped; we get a whole lot of water running over the ground. So by digging this french drain at the edge of our property, and directing the water towards its historic location I feel like I'm helping restore something that was lost. During a recent storm, I calculated that the entire drain system will catch and store at least 500 gallons before it overflows."

"Wow, that sounds like a lot of water!" she said. "What happens to water you don't capture?"

"Ha! This is where what you taught me really comes in: I spent a year watching the land, getting to know it. Come here, look at where the overflow leads." We walked to the other side of the yard. "In the heaviest storms, water bubbles up out of the drain and then under the fence. But see? This neighbor has hardscape too, and their sidewalk is sort of culvert shaped. The water flows down to the street instead of pooling around their foundation."

She said, "This sounds like a really great solution!" She smiled (I love her smile). "What I really appreciate is that you considered what was happening both upstream and downstream."

I preened a little inside. "Well, you all taught me 'There is no away.'"

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