Friday, January 15, 2010

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Ain’t it magical eh? Bitingly cold, and at times most inconvenient with its inevitable accompaniment of frozen pipes, true, but above all, snow just can’t fail to transform even the loveliest of landscapes into a world richly enchanted.  The silvery green leaves of the olive trees are sprinkled with a heavenly icing sugar. The pines in the forest are all lined with the whitest of glistening light along their branches as if an artist sneaked in unnoticed and lovingly brush stroked them into the scene. 

There've been some crazy wild ice structures like Superman's hideout in miniature, growing vertically up from the mounds of clay around the place (if you know what these are or how they're formed please add a comment).  And the stones stacked in the terrace walls and littering the hillside and paths, more accustomed to the baking heat of the Portuguese summer sun, appear not so much surprised (they’ve seen it all before of course), as resigned to their requisite attire of snowy hats and icy beards.

Kids have had their obligatory snowball fight this morning. Moses has been galloping and frolicking with glee, almost exactly like he was a March Hare on speed. Vonnie has wandered the land dreaming and planning and intoxicating herself just by being in the very midst of it all. I’ve been chopping firewood and filling containers of water from the river, that’s thankfully still gushing vehemently at the bottom of the land. Water pipes from the bore hole froze up yesterday, so we’ve had no running water.  Now we have enough to drink, to cook with and to bathe in (after being boiled on top of the wood burning stove of course) for today at least and are hoping for a bit of a thaw tomorrow. Já está. Agora não é um problema.  Agua é vida. Tem ser feito assim!

Right this second we have all retreated inside the small Xisto stone cottage where we live. A small open-plan type cottage, on 3 levels, made by a double layer of mezzanines. Kids’ sleeping lofts on the top floor one at each gable end, our bedroom on the middle floor shared with a bookcase and bench on a wooden walkway that surrounds an open hole where you can peer into the kitchen and lounge on the floor below. It’s cosy. Makes me think of families of sleeping hedgehogs and bears snuggled together in warm dry dens with waxy butt plugs.

It’s hibernation season of course. We’re all bunkered down, Vonnie and I, the kids, Moses the retriever and Angel the cat, as we have been so often since the first cold snap in December. A tree fell in the forest yesterday and snapped our phone line so we have no internet either. Yet we are content, warming ourselves by the heat of the wood burning stove, listening to cool vibes and entertaining ourselves, reading novels, getting lost in Monty Don’s gardening books, cooking, writing, and sleeping (Angel and Moses), each in our own spaces, yet fully together in the bosom of this family.  

Sweet, sweet Sunday.

Back to work tomorrow (up at our other houses in the picture above.) Maybe next weekend I’ll write a bit about how school is going for me and the kids (all good) and River will update you on what’s happening inside that amazing head of hers.

Enjoy the weather wherever you are.


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