top of page


A Place of Refuge
AAL 110 Assignment, University of Pretoria

“Always in the big woods when you leave familiar ground and step off alone into a new place there will be, along with the feelings of curiosity and excitement, a little nagging of dread. It is the ancient fear of the unknown, and it is your first bond with the wilderness you are going into. You are undertaking the first experience, not of the place, but of yourself in that place. It is an experience of our essential loneliness, for nobody can discover the world for anyone else. It is only after we have discovered it for ourselves that it becomes a common ground and a common bond, and we cease to be alone,” (Berry, 2006, p. 29).

In my mind I walk down that meditative path, first over uneven cobble, until gravel crunching under my boots make way for coarse sand. As I reach the sand pit, I remove my shoes. Trudging through, the sand feels cold between my toes and shifts around my feet as I wrestle forward against it. Above me, my old friends from my first encounter with the attenuation pond flit overhead as they dart off in the wind, occupied with the business birds are known for. I feel sheltered from the breeze, from the discomfort of wading through nature’s unknown…and black-jacks and bristle grass, not to mention things that crawl and slither. And I feel a sense of fulfilment, not only in knowing that my client’s artistic efforts have been acknowledged in this installation to the best of my abilities, that I’ve lived out my own creative energy through this project, but most importantly that a simple question, along with a small sacrifice of my own ego created a space where, in the process of transforming nature, she has received something back in kind.

The Megadrile personifies my own transformation - a metamorphosis of a painful unfolding, my one-inch-journey. I was born wild, a mad rage of energy and I needed something to contain me and slow me down, something to let me trudge to a halt. And then only would I be able to ‘see’ the beauty around me and ultimately “arrive at the ground at (my) own feet, and learn to be at home,” (Berry, 2006, p 30).     

Hermaphrodite Wisdom– Not only do earthworms decompose food and soil the size of their own weight every day and add much needed air to soil to advance plant growth, but we can also learn from them in that they possess both male and female reproductivity potential. A metaphorical interpretation implies that, in order to become regenerative practitioners like the earthworm, we too should incorporate into our beings, a way of thinking and being in a more balanced male-female ratio. With ‘male’ being a symbol of a pragmatic approach, systematic, left-brain, guiding and organised and ‘female’ representing a nurturing, caring, creative and inclusive, more spontaneous approach. And here’s the apotheosis of earthworm wisdom – they still need one another to pro-create, one to fertilize the eggs of another (Taylor, 2005). We need one another – regenerative design and living is a collective effort. 

Source: Excerpt from AAL 110 Exam Assignment, University of Pretoria (Bosman, 2022)


Berry, W (2006). ‘The Unforeseen Wilderness: Kentucky's Red River Gorge’. Counterpoint Press, California. 04.06.2022

Bosman, C (2022). “Megadrile – A Place Of Refuge’, AAL 110: Sustainability, Ecosystems and Ecological Design Imperatives. University of Pretoria. Unpublished Essay.

Murcutt, G (2001). ‘Touching This Earth Lightly’. Duffy & Snellgrove, Sydney.

Taylor, B (2005). ‘Bugs’. Barfield Press, Essex.


bottom of page