The Polish influenza

Last month, we received a crazy volunteering form in our inbox, all the way from Poland. We somehow lost contact along the way {OK, not somehow. Our reception was worse than ever and my inbox never updated}. Then, one day, I receive a phone call from a friend living in a community not too far away from us.
"Cat, there's a bunch of people here asking for you."
Oh my goodness, they did it! The next day, this beautiful VW is parked in our land.

p.jpg
p8.jpg

It was a group of five, and it was the best group of five we could have asked for. Big smiles and a refined sense of humor, patchouli and beautiful dresses, and a dog that would drool every time she saw our cat - drool as in I like you so much I could eat you. 

It's hard to believe we did more work in a week than we would have done in a whole month {even though Sam was going out for work almost every day}! Here are some of the things we checked off the list:

  Clearing land - we did one of the most critical parts, which was the totally overgrown forest on the upper part of the land
 ☑ Clearing the inside of the house - debris and stones out, almost ready to start working on that floor!
 ☑ Taking down the walls of the old pigpen, to lay the foundations of the future bathroom
 ☑ Making new garden beds  

Yes, we were busy!

p5.jpg
p2.jpg
p6.jpg

That's the work on the old pigpen/ future bathroom, above.

And below... Well, we're one step closer to have this as view from our front door

p4.jpg

I really can't put my finger on what is my favorite part about having volunteers. There are so many things that warm our hearts about these helping visitors. The shared meals, the new kitchen flavors, the late night {sometimes deep} conversations, the different opinions on how to do something, the indelible touch people leave on the land and buildings... I love looking at something done with friends and thinking "oh, I remember how hard it was to place that stone there", or smiling upon the memory of the joke someone did while we worked together. These memories build up. And so does reality. And suddenly, our land and our building is no longer our land or our building. Embedded is the physical memory of the people who passed by, and in the air lingers the light breeze left behind those who moved around bringing something new, every time.

Like the remains of a cough our friends had upon arrival, that turned into cough for us that turned into fever that turned into a flu that put everyone here in the valley down for three weeks. We've called it the polish influenza but hey, now that is has passed I'm proud of it. It too tells a story.

p7.jpg
p3.jpg

Scenes from early autumn

_DSC1299.jpg
_DSC0294.jpg
_DSC0291.jpg
_DSC1792.jpg
_DSC1349.jpg
2017-10-10 06.02.25 1.jpg
_DSC1389.jpg
_DSC1378.jpg
_DSC1871.jpg
applecinnamonbuns.jpg

To identify the woodpeckers pecking the trees near our trailer - they're nor shy of shameful.
To think, and rethink, and build with winter in mind, helped by friends who wear banana stickers on their foreheads.
To forage and cook, and share and trade for fresh sourdough bread. Always with a some knitting nearby.
To dream about the next batch of chickens.
To dream about the house-to-be.
To overcome insecurities and make new things for selling. And to have the support of your beautiful friends.
To try new kitchen adventures and laugh at the little one sniffing the air. To dive into warm apple and cinnamon, because the weather forecast says rain next week.

A new garden, from the very very beggining

Autumn is swiftly approaching, and my excitement grows with it - I am so looking forward to the autumn and winter crops! As we didn't manage to plant anything in spring and summer (besides a ridiculously small tomato plant which is still somehow hanging around...), this is a sweet moment of a new start.

But phew, starting a garden from scratch is quite some work. Getting the hands dirty on it is my task, with Sam working away every day. Little by little I manage to do small sessions of work, if the little one feels cooperative.

Here are some images of the garden, since when we arrived to now - so little seems to have been done, however looking at them uplifts my spirits, I can't lie.

trailer16.jpg

The first day of clearing we made! We had moved in just a while ago and were still figuring where is where what is what.

2.jpg

Wow! Is that like, the same spot but with a half meter deep trench full of branches from the clearing you did and compost, surrounded by a super cool mimosa weaving? Totally. It will be a long garden bed very soon!

3.jpg
33.jpg

Then I sewed a banner for the garden, because... Well, it's cute.

4.jpg
5.jpg

And garden bed no. 2 is coming up! A square one, of more modest dimensions.

Now that both beds are framed, the task is to bring earth in, as well as some horse manure from the neighbors' horses. I'm filling the beds with the earth Sam dug out of the water mine during the cleaning process. Try to picture 60 years of abandon translated into fallen earth and decomposed organic matter... Sheeesh, that's a lot of volume!

So I surely have the filling for the garden beds, but would like to have more time to work on it. Motherhood has these things, which I'm ok with! There is time, and all the seedlings are patiently waiting on the trails, growing a little taller every day. Every day I tell them they can trust me and that they will be in their new homes soon.  I've got this handled, right??!! 

_DSC0070[1].jpg

Up and away on the mountains

High summer and high heat.

We packed the van for a few days with mountains and lakes in mind and went. And how grateful for that idea we are! We enjoyed morning coffee by the waterside, drove across deserted mountaintops, were offered fresh goat milk by a shepherd, wore woolen sweaters at night - we were missing that! -, swam in lakes and enjoyed some walks with a child on the back. I took some yarn and needles along and knitted a small project during the trip, which will hold these memories amidst the stitches.

The only thing I forgot? The camera's battery. Enjoy some good old film!

Imagem13.jpg
estr.jpg
estrelaa3.jpg
Imagem20.jpg
Imagem12.jpg
estrela.jpg

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!