Saturday, November 26, 2011

Lateral permaculture - preventing falls, design that takes care of clever old ladies

These cats were drawn by my friend Norma, the artist. She uses her left hand when she wants to be more creative. 
Try it. When you use your right hand, the clever & competent hand, it goes into autopilot, and draws what it thinks should be there. 
Not what is actually there, and not the most beautiful or useful choice. 

Norma just gave me another lesson in looking beyond the obvious, in designing a fall-resistant garden for herself. 
Norma and Cecilia winter 2011

She sometimes has dizzy turns walking in the garden. I worry, everyone worries.

So what I did was ask around for a carpenter to make up a pretty rail. 
An institutional metal rail will not do, as this is an artists garden.

Twig fence from Twigology
Garden handrail sketch

Some natural sticks, sturdily assembled, to be a natural-looking presences in her graceful, Japanese-influenced garden.

So the other day while passing by, I popped in. 
No Norma. 
I asked the workers in the house down the road if I could borrow their mesuring tape, and quickly drew up a quick plan with mesurements, for the fantasy carpenter to work from.

You can't get volunteers to do ALL the work.
This will do, as a rough guide. 
Just find sticks from a tree lopper, find the volunteer carpenter, someone young who wants to try something new.  
Help him make it, and Bobs your uncle.  

But I didn't find the volunteer carpenter.

So a few days later I turn up at Norma's.
Look at what she had done to the back garden:

Uneven, beautiful cobblestones, precarious to walk on.

The cobblestones are still there, but blanketed by 10 cm of cushiony mulched tree trimmings, a present from the tree-lopping man down the road.

Now the walk-way is more stable, and if she does fall, its so much softer and safer.

And it just happened.

What a good story of 'share the surplus'. Or more correctly, 'availablize the surplus'.
Material that was 'waste' to the lumberjack neighbor could save Norma's life.

Norma's shady back garden

Still, if you are a young carpenter wanting to try something new, come and have tea with Norma and I, and see what can be done.
See what lateral inspiration happens, when you enter Norma's world.

Norma's sculpture in the back garden
Sweetpeas by the front railings


Tamara and Ducky have the same squinty right eye :) said...

Awesome and so topical - my grandmothers both had falls and it was the start of their decline. Love you heaps Cecelia! Love T and D

Cecilia Macaulay said...

So glad you like it Tamara. There are so many ways of caring for people, aren't there? A big hug for you, and a big Mexican Wave to Ducky xx