A land tour, within the limits of wildness

Feels like ages since I've last posted here. And a huge lot has happened, the most important of all being that we have finally signed the papers for the land we had already been living in. This official step took place earlier this week and was a quite emotional experience, both for us and for the previous owner, an elder woman who was raised on the very same land we walk over today. She knows stories. She knows so many stories and has deep knowledge inside her, which we are very excited about sharing.

For now, please join me in a walk - I will lead you amongst these trees and show you this land we now call home.

The trailer, our nest. Adapting to the small space took its time, but already coming from a 16m2 home has made the transition easier. We still have some of our things at our old hut, which we'll bring here as we figure out facilities. Do you remember how it was before?

Follow me as we walk down across the little forest. we're getting to the house!

There it is, in all its stone splendor and ruin. When the owner lived here, they were five siblings plus the parents! And before that, in the time of her grandparents, they were a family of nine! In this small house, with no anexes. It truly represented the sense of community that is being lost, as families today build and buy houses with dozens of bedrooms, living rooms and giant kitchens, alongside with private bathrooms for each. I do respect that, but have far greater respect for this model of co-living - doubtless due to economical reasons, I reckon.

That little corner, which we had been wondering if was a former window, turns out to be the place where fresh water was stored.

Let's leave the house. On the left, a big boulder imposes its magnetic presence.

Climbing it up is easy, for there is a narrow path.

And from up there the view is stunning, facing east and the sunrise. We can spot a few of our community friend's houses, hidden beneath the tall trees. The lady who grew up here used to sing and dance from this boulder, communicating with her friends further below - isn't that magical?

Down and further we go, carefully amongst the wild bushes. There's lavender, gum rockrose, gorse, amongst others. The boulder marks a change in landscape and flora. Now we have many oaks of different kinds and olive trees.

We soon arrive at the water mine, the only source of water of the land. It used to flow high and clean in the past, but is in need of a very good cleaning, in order to have it at a good level once again. This is where we get our water from with buckets to do the dishes, laundry and watering the plants.

Some meters away is a clearing we're slowly opening, where we are starting our provisory vegetable garden. There we find a few pumpkins and half a dozen tomato plants. The soil is much poorer than we had expected, which means almost no produce this growing season. Hopefully we'll make some garden beds soon, to rot away over the next months, to at least have some cabbage and mustards during winter.

The land continues further down. There are pear trees in need of a hand, more oaks and olive trees. There are dry bushes and living bushes. Yes, there is still a lot to clear, but also much energy and excitement to do so.

I do hope you'll follow along as we turn this piece of land into a living space for a family once again!

When in doubt, go out

Yesterday was one of these days - no matter how many activities you try to prepare for your child, nothing seems to go right. Times two!, since it's two children now with the sweet daughter of the couple staying at the B&B.

After a morning of playing with wooden toys and attempting some reading, all in between crisis and grumpiness,  we decided to get outside in the Nature - of course! With the children on the back and the dog by our side, we walked to leave this tiny village and followed one of the many meandering tracks around. In our minds floated the idea of spotting some deer, which Sam has been lucky enough to do quite some times already.

We did not spot a deer. What we did spot was this special place with a lagoon and a low creek. The children loved it so much - they could run around, splash in the water, play with the dog, throw sticks... Everything they are happy doing, and all on their own while we sat down and ate apples. We even found some crayfishes! Dutifully accompanied by shrieks, manic laughter and excited screams, pointed fingers and ahs and ohs!

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What a simple yet important lesson: outside is where they (we all!) learn the best. Sometimes, as parents, we feel like staying inside, enjoying the homely comfort and drinking hot tea while knitting - believe me, I know! But stepping outside, slowing down to a child's pace and honest interest by everything they see can lead to beautiful adventures. And we can just sit back and watch them learn the world by directly experiencing It, touching and smelling and listening and observing and everything else we often dismiss.

As my friend Susana put it so well today, when in doubt, go out.

Hands on April

Hands on April

Feels like ages since I last wrote a post over here! The reason is simple - no, I am not neglecting this little corner, my friends - my camera was broken! It is fixed by now, after a long train trip to the capital on my own for the first time (oh oh if I did have fun!) and there is so much I want to share.

The works on the land are evolving. We started clearing the house, which had a huge mimosa living inside, and so many broken tiles and stones. The caravan spot is ready to receive our future dwelling. We have even planted some green friends! A couple lilacs and a fig tree our previous neighbors offered us, which I find such a beautiful way of still keeping them close. I want to show you pictures of this all, but let's have patience. We are staying at the guest house these days, which is the most comfortable place for us to be at the moment, while we (anxiously) wait and wait until we can move in our trailer. And in the meanwhile, we are enjoying the company of the loveliest couple of renters, who have a child just the same age as J!

April was a month of much work in the land and also of waiting. And of creation! I weaved many dreamcatchers to stock in the shop, which to my surprise and joy flew away soon, and found myself elbow deep in new knitting projects - I even gave my sewing machine a teeckeeteeck!

Slowly nesting

A steaming cup of lemon herbal tea by my side, a child sound asleep in the next room, the stove on while the rain patters through the night, Sam sitting next to me working on the computer and many checked on my to-do list. We are at the guest house enjoying the wi-fi, a rare treat these days! I can finally just breathe deeply for a moment before getting my fingers to dance over the keyboard - and how I have been aching to share with you the beginning of works at the new piece of land!

On my last post, I've wrote about the wild forest on the back part of the land. Wild is the right word: it is completely overgrown and the ground is a mixture of dead shrubs and fallen trees, which makes circulation almost impossible. But we love it! Nature has just been running its course here - however, fire risk. No doubt there's much work to do there.

Above you can see we have already completely cleared a small glade on top of a rock, where we will be parking the caravan. In order to do that, we had to hand open a wide road through the woods so the veicule can pass, that runs 300 m long, maybe. And, in order to do that, we had to clear different spaces inside the forest along the road, so we could stack up all the firewood we were collecting.

Work is faster and more pleasurable with friends! So happy for K and J, who hitchhiked all the way from the big city to visit us and the earthship and to give us a valuable hand (or four) finishing the road! Within two days, the road was done! Yay!

Then, when one arrives to this piece of land, leading to the new road we opened is a winding dirt track through the forest, which is in average condition (but the only veicules we've seen passing there are tractors and donkey carts - yes, donkey carts). We need to improve this access too, by leveling the ground in some spots and cutting mimosa branches that fall over most of the path.

After K and J left, Sam has almost finished clearing the branches on this one! There's only a small fraction left. And after this is ready, we want to call a machine to pass over this track and everything we've opened, in order to press and level the ground.

And because things do not always run according to plans, we will only have the caravan by the end of April. The friends whose house we're housesitting return tomorrow, so this leaves us with an unplanned month were we have no place to stay, since we had thought we would be in the caravan, in the woods, by the next week or so.

Yesterday we received a phone call - a friend's friend is looking for a housesitter for a whole month, an earth ship only an hour from our new "home". We can easily drive there to keep on working and have a warm house to return to by the end of the day. What a blessing!

And so we cleaned the house from top to bottom, baked cookies, spread tiny paper hearts over the fresh bed and wrote a note - because we had to leave and couldn't manage to be there to greet our friends back home.

Today we enjoy hot showers, clean laundry, blended foods and internet connection. Tomorrow we hop off back to the mountain to meet and already stay in the house that will shelter us over the next month.

It's been a funny feeling, these nomadic months.

TO-DO LIST

 Clear a glade for the caravan
Clear a path leading to the glade
Improve the road leading to the path leading to glade (work in process)
Having the machine passing over it all
Bring the caravan in
Plant sunflowers around it

Have a good week, friends! (Gosh, I just love blogging about processes!)

Lost and found

"And this was the house", pointed J, finger stretched on to a roofless ruin half hidden by the woods.

Me and Sam looked at each other and let a silent but expressive wow come out of our lips. This was it, we felt it. We had found our piece of land, or maybe it had found us.

Looking for a place to grow roots in has been a bumpy road. The energy of the beginning started draining away after a few weeks full of land visits and a couple deceptions. We started considering going away just to come back again in a year or two with fuller pockets. At a certain point the tension was so sharp (remember that Full Snow Moon? Yeah) that we just took some days off and changed environment. We used this period to re-settle our priorities: building a house for our family, providing J a safe, healthy environment in contact with other children and be in a place that allows us to both work and grow a garden on the same place were on top of the list. And so we returned.

By a hint of chance, I went visit I and B, a family living around. They suggested me talking to T, up in the village, whose husband, M, might know something. M led me to J, whose wife might know something. Are you following me? This is how things go in small friendly environments. In the end, it was J himself who remembered something owned by someone living far away.

So it was this J, a farmer and hunter who, the next day, showed us a wild, powerful yet gentle-feeling piece of land. It has been abandoned for a generation, but its previous owners used to spend summer in there. Nestled in an east-facing slope, this terrain has a water mine in need of some cleaning, wild-grown terraces, different Quercus, a ruin and a large mimosa forest on the back. And a boulder, a giant boulder with a breathtaking view right next to the house.

We were the first people being shown this hidden gem and the owner hadn't made a price, so we went forward and made our offer. Our small offer, but everything we could afford, counting with family support. Two days later, we had an answer: "She said yes". Even more, she said we can already move in.

As we arrived home, I rushed towards my journal looking for a certain list we had made last autumn. This list was somewhat of a ramble, a thing we called the Dreamland List, and that contains about 30 assets we agreed that we would like our future land to have. Things like having a big boulder, having a dynamic topographybeing at walking distance from friends, etc. The top item was having a feeling. I don't know exactly how surprised I was upon finding out that all of the items were checked. I think that, ever since the first glance, we felt there was something deeply magical about this place.

So what are the next steps? Hand opening a road to the land, clearing a patch on the forest to install the caravan our friend has lent us (maybe you remember it) and move in to this provisory home while we start clearing the land and drawing plans. Then, by the end of June, if the owner doesn't pull off, we should sign the papers. Only after that we will feel confident enough to start working in the house, rebuilding the ruin with natural materials.

We are so excited! It's a new chapter, a fresh adventure about to start to the three of us.

Thank you to everyone who has sent wishes, good vibes and contributions. It is really working out.

Oh, the title of this post: I don't think this land was ever lost. It was us.