In the post Erosion Control, I mentioned Wendell Berry's observations about Peruvian farming, and mused that these same dynamics might be applied to our lives. So, we talked about "smallness of scale." And now it seems good to turn to terracing.
Terracing is a way to produce fruit from what might otherwise be fruitless land. It keeps soil in place and makes a patch of workable land right on the mountainside. Stonework cradles the soil, helping it stay put.
Says Berry, "the stonework in these walls is excellent...and provides a good insight into the agricultural thinking of the Incas...these walled terraces testify that [they] aimed at a permanent agriculture, and that aim accounts for the excellence of the workmanship." (p 45)
Conversely, we live in a throw-away culture. The "you can toss it" mindset pervades everything from the way we treat relationships to the way we treat goods, homes, communities, church families, and so on. And perhaps this accounts for the level of our workmanship (which is too often less impressive than the Incan stonework.)
But, what if we stopped and took the view of the Incas. This is what we've got to work with. We're staying here. How can we make the mountain fruitful? I marvel to think of what we might build, how we might terrace what seemed less than productive.
Seedlings in stones in Guatemala photo by Dorothy Olson Miller. Used with permission.
SSI (Standing Seedlings Invitation): If you post something related to this Seedling post, let me know and I'll link to you.
NEW LINKS TO THIS POST:
A Sense of Place
Incas & Disposable Everything
NEW LINKS TO SMALLNESS OF SCALE POST:
Smallness of Scale
Narcissus Gone Wild
Smaller Scale Meets Toy Closet