‘Earth Living’ at Savista: Following Nature’s Cycles
Sunrise Over Savista
(Photo by Signe Wolsgard Kroyer)
”We cannot have harmony and balance in our lives if we forget to include the earth and natural rhythms in our lives.
Nature, in all its myriad forms, is the most powerful force on earth. Although mankind has tried, we have not found a way to match its awesome power, but we have found ways to work with it. Science often confirms the wisdom of the ancients who observed and then harnessed nature’s rhythms and cycles to shape and enhance their lives. We can begin to do this in our own lives by first paying attention to our own natural rhythms, such as when we wake or when we feel the need to sleep. If possible, we may want to try to rise and sleep with the sun or live without electricity for a weekend and then monitor how we feel. We can make the choice to eat the foods of the seasons and to seek fresher, locally grown, or organic produce whose own cycles have not been tampered with by technology.
We can create harmony in our homes by making a smooth transition between our indoor and outdoor spaces. By bringing some of the outdoors inside and taking some of our indoor décor out, we can simultaneously enjoy nature and the comforts of home and the feeling that our living space is expanded. Then, whether inside or out, we can lounge on a comfortable piece of furniture and feel the wind, inhale the scent of deeply breathing plants, listen for the many songs of life, and observe the moon and the stars. As we do this more often, we may find ourselves noticing the pull of the full moon on bodies of water, as well as the water in bodies, or the music of the night acting as a lullaby.
When we seek balance in our lives, we want to balance not just our roles in life but also the natural elements in our spaces. Having representations of the elements in the colors, shapes, and textures of our homes will appeal to our mind, body, and spirit. We may find that when we sync ourselves with nature’s rhythms, we ride the waves of energy to feel more in harmony with life and the world around us.”
The above piece was sent to us recently by one of our well-wishers (“Daily OM”). And the picture of “Sunrise Over Savista” by another friend (thank you, Signe).
It is possible for all of us to establish connections with nature… in small or big ways, and wherever we may happen to be. At Savista, we feel grateful for the opportunity to experience the rhythms of nature in this little corner of India. Whether in our traditional architecture, where our courtyard brings the sun, moon, stars, trees and birdsong right into the haveli … our interior décor, where we extensively use materials and colours from nature… our diverse open and enclosed spaces, which we try to creatively adapt to the dictates of the weather and seasons… our weakness for flickering candles and oil lamps, that help us stay in harmony with starlight in the late evenings … or our homegrown/locally sourced food that makes us feel close to the earth…Life at Savista brings with it a lot that is good about nature.
But there is also the ‘bad’, that we have learnt to take in our stride. It has helped us learn the wisdom that what is “bad” for us – comfort-loving humans – is almost always “good” for nature (which is probably why the “bad” is there in the first place! ).
For example, we remain open to guests for only eight months of the year, when the weather is cool and comfortable; this means losing business for the remaining four months of the year. But we have come to terms with the loss of revenue, rather than opt to keep our air-conditioners running 24/7 through the summer months, involving profligate use of energy. Paradoxically, starting spring and through the summer are when the birds are at their busiest, which makes it the ideal bird watching season!
Again, during phases in the hot summer, we have to cope with masses of sand flying into our open-air pool, due to fierce sandstorms that also wrench leaves off trees and hurl them into the courtyard. If there were no frequent sandstorms in this part of Rajasthan, there would be no plentiful rains in that year. We have therefore learnt to welcome the sandstorms, and to simply avoid using the pool on the days that it has taken a beating. Not having guests during these periods does away with having to be apologetic about what is a perfectly natural occurrence.
In the humid ‘short summer’ that lasts for a fortnight to three weeks at the fag end of the rains, the luxuriant growth of insect life in our surroundings renders the late evenings somewhat stressful if we use too many electric lights, as the bright lights have a fatal attraction for these insects. When we have guests staying with us, we need to use full lighting, yet keep insects under control, for enhanced guest comfort. This raises the huge – for us – ethical question of whether to spray? or avoid chemicals altogether and let nature take its course? (see our blogpost “To Spray or not to Spray”, October 6, 2011). In our neck of the woods, our resident starlings love the taste of the local insects. On the morning after a particularly insect-filled evening they fly into our courtyard in pairs and within a couple of hours achieve a complete clean-up . During particularly humid ‘short summers’, therefore, we avoid taking bookings, thus resolving the dilemma of how to assure guest comfort while remaining true to our environmental ethic.
Again, for about two weeks in the spring when the late mustard crop is being harvested, the tiny flying insects that live and feed in the mustard crop through the growing season are forced to flee their habitat. Death, then, is their only alternative, and the only death they know is death by drowning. As if by instinct, they make their way to our swimming pool and commit mass suicide. If we come to know that some farms around us are about to harvest a late mustard crop, we decline bookings for that period and simply allow what must happen to happen!
These are a few of the ways in which we at Savista try to go with the rhythms of nature and our immediate environment…