Sunday, October 26, 2008

Anniversarying with the King of the Swingers

One day, back in the life of the jungle, many animals lived together, some in blissful harmony, others engaged constantly in the fight to stay alive. One special animal grew up there and managed to discover the secret to life. And shared it with everyone he met with generosity of heart, humour and a cascading backdrop of monkey music. His secret was simply to enjoy the bare necessities. His name, of course, was Balloo.

Last year, and joyously again this month, we’ve had the great privilege to meet and hang out with Balloo in person, reincarnated in the form of a man from Hereford and his most cool mate and tribe currently holidaying in the nearby abandoned village of Eiro do Miguel over the mountain on the slopes of the Rio Zezere. His human name is Ian Huntingdon, his mate is the inimitable and gorgeous Merla, their two stunning daughters are Evie (12) and Anna (18), Anna’s perfect beau Oli (21), and an old friend of the family, Roger (age and origin unknown).

It was our 14th wedding anniversary on Wednesday. To celebrate, the Winter clan took a long weekend trip to Lisbon with the tribe of Balloo, the King of the Swingers. The 10 of us camped in Monsanto park 15 minutes ride from the centre of the city. Had dinner in one of the quirky old café restaurants in the heart of Lisbon’s Fado district made memorable for the moment when the owner, shortly after taking our orders for fish of the day, strolled over and pulled out of the boot of his old Mercedes, a sack of freshly bought, and probably caught, fish to cook, along with veggies and the eggs for dessert. We climbed and wandered through the capital’s charming streets lined with once grand now slightly dishevelled, tall old stone framed houses dripping with the past and present tapestries of a culturally rich Lisbon: centuries old wobbly limestone cobbled streets; colour filled walls occasionally splashed with sections of those typically Portuguese hand painted tiles; antique black railinged window verandas, from which residents’ laundry hangs cheek by jowel with large canvasses beautifully illustrated with an eclectic mix of sketches and paintings for the latest public art exhibition.

For the weekend’s finale, Ian and Merle arranged a surprise gift for their tribe to thank them all for their previous fortnight of hard labour clearing the land in Eiro do Miguel – tickets to see the Thievery Corporation at the Coliseu. They invited us to join them and what an experience it turned out to be, especially cos it was the first big gig for Josh and Eli, who watched the spectacle of the audience as much as they did the musicians, drummers, singers, rappers and dancers on stage. A most cool way to finish celebrating our 14 year heavenly journey of a marriage dripping with love, romance, adventure and family.

Thank you Balloo and crew. And thank you Lisbon. There’s only one Lisboa. And it’s awesome that this weekend it’s felt that it’s become ours. Our Lisboa. We’ll meet again soon.

Restoration Update: In the pursuit of beauty...

Back at the Moses ranch, River and I have been in full flow, rendering, solving problems, mending, fixing, restoring, more rendering, waiting for wood and materials to arrive, choosing the appropriate heating and water systems to buy, more rendering, but surrounding all of it, is the magic of being able to use our energy and imagination to create. We are so thankful we’ve been given the chance to do this thing with our own hands. These last 2 weeks we’ve been able to move beyond the purely functional tasks to embrace a far more creative process that imprints our own stamp on the function. Using our hands to sculpt the plastering on the walls and over the bedrock, to carve the eucalyptus beam we chain sawed, planed, sanded and heaved into position to support the bedroom floor, to select the prettiest slate lintels for remaking the doorway of the old clay bread oven, and to roll huge boulders into place for the borders of a water channel gutter at the back of the house. It’s just one big art attack (for those of you who’ve ever watched kiddies TV). We are hand sculpting our house and filling it full with romance and love along the way.

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As you can tell we’re feeling all loved up at the moment. Not enough time to tell you even half the stories happening here. Just know it is rich. As Merle says, “dripping” with the gorgeousness and fullness of life. School, shopping, building, friends, neighbours, dinners, coffees, passing chats, even the drives and walks to and from these things. Everywhere you look, every landscape you stumble across, every task necessary, every problem solved, every single moment is a an experience to be cherished and treasured because it will never be experienced in that particular way again. Just like the enchanting, colourful, historic and steep streets of Lisbon, we are the tapestry upon which something magnificent and unique is being woven.

And did I mention the sun is still shining hot here? No? Desculpe. It is. Just the icing, or the cherry, or the cream, or all of it on the whole home baked wedding anniversary cake of a life.

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