I have been reflecting on what simple, enjoyable things can help make a place, a home “more natural”. Last year a fellow attended the Earth Plaster & Sculpting Workshop, and then recently brought his wife and 2 children to a potluck at Strawbale Studio (driving from the Traverse City area & staying overnight here). Afterward he emailed: “We want to renovate our house with natural building techniques, start gardening in the spring, and connect to more people in our community. I want to feel good vibes at home like I do when I go to your place. “I responded: “Sounds doable, needed, rewarding, (and I am smiling as I am typing) !! At any point you could start a monthly potluck…on the full moon or not. If you are out of town, another person can host. or it could be rotating hosting, or at a local nature place sometimes. Also, for making the house naturally cozy….a simple table with nature things on it is easy and really fun. I just collect interesting things, put them in baskets, or casually, and rotate them back to nature occasionally, or maybe they become something in time… like a wood carving project, or a basket. And the bird feeder, is just sticks leaned against the kitchen window with “whatever “as holders. I was using a styrofoam cup with a twist tie for a while. lol. Now the “feeder” is a little canoe, and a tiny basket. What else could I use…hmmmm. I love bringing wood in…leaning it in corners of the house or here and there.. . waiting for possibly some other purpose or just to “connect” and enjoy. The walls here are a “process”…s when we add earth plaster and sculptures…sometimes just a vine shape, or a sconce..then sometimes it is added to …over time. Time. All this has been done over time. First the original owners designed an interesting south-facing house, and put in stone steps and gardens and other small buildings. Now I have been living here since 2003, and things have been shaped by so many helping hands. It has all has evolved over time. Each morning the leaves on the kitchen table gives me such pleasure – as the low winter light highlights their subtle colors and casts shadows. I brought each leaf in this fall, in one or two at a time..when I saw colors or shapes I found interesting. Now they have lost their bright color and continue to be interesting and beautiful. Also on the table are fibers, the tops of squash – their handles., a stone, oak gall, pine cone. Outdoors here, the natural look is quite a bit of “doing nothing” ( also LOL..and true). I enjoy adding in plant-beings here and there that I enjoy. I put in a Sage and a Rosemary plant on the south side of the house. It’s warm & sunny and close to the kitchen door s I can notice them often and stay connected. Nature is really on its own mostly here, and just outside the kitchen door Common Mallow and Rose of Sharon grow next to Golden Rod, Raspberry, Sumak…and many others. Baskets. I love baskets. I use them for many things, and I just love how they look…on the top of the fridge, in a nested pile in the front hall. Salvation Army always seems to have a fabulous assortment of baskets no longer needed where they were, and now re-appreciated in practical and aesthetic ways in the house. Another easy naturalizer is to hang things from horizontal sticks on the walls. By me now is are two sticks with several hanging items…. a sweet grass braid, some candles, the fertile fronds of the Ostrich Fern growing by the front door. And behind me is beautiful wild rose branch arching out a bit on the wall, with rose hips. Gratitude to the original owners of this place, John, Lisa & Fran, who put in native plants that know how to live in this place. Gratitude to all those plants who just decided ton their own to live life here. Hmmm. It’s nice to think about these things. I am also reflecting on the life/death/life process that flows through the world. These parts of nature, the leaves, and sticks and pods are really beautiful and useful in all their stages – Each is nourished, grows, returns and nourishes. All in good time.