Even if we do not pay attention to the alterations that we have caused for thousands of years, that we have normalised, and not surprisingly, we consider them to be fair and necessary, it does not excuse us for being, day by day and forever more, responsible for them.
And one of these huge alterations that we work on for months every year of our lives is the winter pruning.

Pruning is the act of rejuvenating a plant every year to make it bear more fruit than the amount it needs to spread itself.

Wow! How have we gotten this alteration of natural life for our own benefit?

Well, through domestication, a process which is caused and guided by human beings, and in which plants and animals go from a wild sate to a domestic state to get food or other resources. The discovery of agriculture, of the growing and domestication processes of plants, is the vertebral axis of the revolution during the Neolithic period, which took place 11 000 years ago. The first big revolution!

We call revolution the creation of new paradigms at a global level, and the first one has something to do with distancing yourself from natural laws, from the natural balances experienced so far. It has something to do with how humans modify the environment at a global level.

Therefore, by domestication we mean the modification of morphological, physiological, and even behavioural characteristics, both new and hereditary, caused by an extended interaction and intervention, even a planned selection, carried out by humans. And this is how we have focused the evolution of our western culture on the modification and the control of the environment… to believe ourselves to be at the centre of the world.
In fact, it is only a way of looking at it. We could have focused on observing nature as the main point of our culture; we would have found different answers, and we would have connected with the environment in a different way, but we did not do it.

In order to understand this eagerness to domesticate, we need to consider that domestication takes place at two levels: the species level (which is a historical, even global, level, and which mainly concerns selection) and the individual level (or community level, and it concerns the direct healing of the domesticated plant or plants here and now).

And one of the most intense processes at an individual level is certainly pruning. The vine doesn’t want to be pruned, it ramifies, it rises, it bends, it hangs, it distances, it grows and grows, and we give it a space where it can move, where it can grow, but it is always insufficient. We stake it, we cut it, we guide it, we lower it, we lower it.

Pruning, which is the process we focus on, is a key in the domestication of the vine at an individual level, concerning cures, responsibility. The winter pruning can represent the most aggressive and violent act done to the vine if we are not capable of being careful, listening, observing, becoming aware of every act, every movement, if we are not capable of asking ourselves and establishing a relationship with the environment, with the vine that we domesticate.

In fact, I think that, in the healing of the vine here and now, I prefer a thousand times the meaning of the word domestication (“to tame”) contained in the book The Little Prince, A. Saint-Exupéry, 1943.

“What does that mean–‘tame’?”
“It is an act too often neglected,” said the fox. It means to establish ties.”
“‘To establish ties’?”
“Just that,” said the fox. “To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world . . .”
“One only understands the things that one tames,” said the fox. “Men have no more time to understand anything. They buy things all ready made at the shops. But there is no shop anywhere where one can buy friendship, and so men have no friends any more. If you want a friend, tame me . . .”
“What must I do, to tame you?” asked the little prince.
“You must be very patient,” replied the fox. “First you will sit down at a little distance from me–like that– in the grass. I shall look at you out of the corner of my eye, and you will say nothing. Words are the source of misunderstandings. But you will sit a little closer to me, every day . . .”

And observe. What do we expect from the vine? What do we want to get from it? What do we give in return? How do we make its growth and its evolution easier? How do we take care of it? How do we let it develop?

This is how pruning will become a complement, a tool to understand which comes from the observation of nature, and we will enable the plants to grow and grow, ramify, and expand themselves… and maybe one day we will have let ourselves be domesticated by the vine.

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