Thursday, January 27, 2011

The depth of a wiser gaze

Thanks to our friend Toby Leetham for pointing out an amazing series of videos by Nic Askew called Soul Biographies. Truly beautiful. Beautifully human.

A LIFE BEYOND from Nic Askew on Vimeo.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Happy 12th Birthday Eloise! By River

As those of you who have been reading our blog might well know, I have not been very well over the Christmas holidays, but it’s a New Year, 35 litres of olive oil pressed and today is my daughter’s birthday.  I never knew that there was so much love in my life.  I am the kind of head down get to work sort of girl, with a tendency to skim my eyes over the tops of trees and feel the blue skies endlessly stretching over head.   It’s the light here that I love the most, it sparkles and bounces off every surface and calls me awake every day. 

Today began with a warm fire on and frozen pipes, after all it is still winter time, my favorite season.  The sun is rising over the little village of Amieira and the mist has already passed over the river and been on its way. 

My daughter came into this world ready, blue eyes steadily gazing at us as if to say I have been waiting to meet you. Why does everything take such a long time?  She was desperate to get out and stretch those beautiful long limbs of hers.  After an hour and a half of labour, there she was and next to me alone in our bedroom my beautiful husband and best mate.  When we crawled into bed and awoke Joshua such a feeling of completeness took over me that I knew I would never recover from this kind of loving.  

So we called her Eloise Grace Winter.  Eloise, warrior of light and the name of my grandmother Grace a state of loving kindness which we all hope to live under and Winter, the family name of my beloved husband and his beautiful family. 

This morning, while the children were still sleeping, I took a walk around our frozen patch of heaven and felt the ice and stone crunching under my boots.  Moses our dog is all too keen to get going in the  morning and I can never resist his eager dawn greetings, so, slightly frozen I ventured out.  I am now walking in my daughters’ shoes of two years ago, she is twelve but she is bypassing me so fast that often my mind is in a blur.  Slow down girl, I always want to say but how could she when there is so much beauty and laughter she wants to share each day.

We Winters have finally moved into our home and are finding our rhythm, the daffodils planted by the previous owners of our house over 40 years ago are flowering, soaking up and dragging each drop of sunshine to the ground.  I have started clearing the vegetable patch and the forest s as green as anyone can imagine as green as my little girls eyes today.  The sky is blue and crisp and I know I will see this in her eyes too.  How could there be anything else but joy in our lives today?  Another day of play.

I have always loved the children’s birthdays best and today we will be hanging out with our gorgeous friends Shanti B from Angola and Emma from Ireland and Ellie’s lovely Portuguese  friend from school Joanna, and the  cacophony of heritage that we the Winters represent.  Praise and love be ever present.  Today, on my daily walk in my daughters’ shoes I am reminded yet again of the many actions that needed to take place in order for us to be here.  I see the sign of my daughter to remind me that I am home, “Moses”, I see the boat of some friends waiting for their return, I see Olive leaves and upturned trees, the hard crunch of stone and the ever-present sound of the river below combined with the wind in the trees and the birds chirping the morning sound remind me of how grateful I truly am that we are finally at home, again.  

Thank you all my friends for your loving kindness and the big net you have all spread to help me come all the way back round to the same rising lights.  Obrigada.

Here is a Poem for the Girls who will Rip your Heart Out and Show You How to Love

Her colour vibrates
She awakens and enlivens
Every moment with Sound
A spiritual gift
In her I see
Connected numbers
Chronic pain of a toxic world released in laughter
Physically, Emotionally
Environmentally, Spiritual

schooled in love
Every emotion is held in her presence
Crystal light is this child
All the while still the same as she came
A veil is pulled back in each generation
Her every utterance s a heart string pulled
She sits pink, divinely feminine
Unabashed energy held within a structure
All power, all gravity and light
She sees sickness before the tide swells
And vibrates, shake and tell
Loving forgiveness
Cuddling touch, kiss and hugs
This way to play

Her mass of rare precious light will not be
Patronised, manipulated or lied to
Give me beauty and truth
Telepathic or just switched on
Come into the world as royalty
And act that Way
Fearlessly sensitive
Not afraid to feel and live

Draw to the light
Moths die at the heat of the bulb but still come
A multi- coloured dress enters my world
And I forget to breathe

Thank you Ellie
For the heart song you give to me

 Introducing Eloise Grace Winter, 12 years of age, princess of Moses........

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Joys of a Simple Wood Shed

Happy New Year one and all.

After the olive picking, 2011 came upon us in a whirlwind of chaos and confusion. John, Caroline, Maya and Violet had to cut their year long stay with us short and return back to London.  Many many rivers of tears shed. A sudden, rapid shock to our lives and theirs that has left us reeling. Arlene, Annie & Nathan arrived shortly afterwards to a tumultuous reception and Christmas crashed passed our eyes in the flashiest of flashes with days and nights interchangeable and sleepless.

It feels a lot like we just took a long sea voyage through the roughest of tempests. Coming out the other side and arriving in much calmer waters, although the relentless sheeting rains outside our newly restored Portuguese stone home, remain a constant reminder that winter is truly upon us. Engulfed by water and wind on all sides. The energy of it all is staggeringly powerful. Transformatively so, sem dúvidas. 

The weather here on the edge of wilderness, just like the landscape, often offers a reflection of that which is apparently occurring in the very depths of our souls. Through the sunny days of summer and autumn there is time and space to see far. Outside. Always outside. The scorching heat stirs the fires of our passions as nature sings her enchanting tunes and the drums of life beat their vibrational dance. In those days, if you sit, observe and listen, everything is revealed. Oh what contrast is this season of yuletide song!

Inside we retreat. Behind the newly built walls and doors and windows. Inside to the books and the films and the memories of a kitchen garden full, abundant and glorious, of a garden that fuelled the lunches and the dinners and the pizzas and the conversations and the games with the friends who are no longer here.  

We go inside to remember. Inside with ourselves. Inside we must retreat. For outside in the dramatic valley landscape the storms rage. Midday is dusk. And yet we see. We even feel the reflection. Because those same storms, those same relentless rains, they somehow rage and weep deep within us.

January 1st 2011, I woke up in a determined mood.

It is, if you didn’t already know, the International Year of the Forest. We have already made it our focus this year to look after, with as much love as we can, the forest where we live. To prune the wild shrubs, the strawberry fruit trees, the rock roses, the heathers, the gorse, the lavenders. But before we start on that we need to clear up the mess around the houses. The flotsam and jetsam of 2 years of building work. Piles of wood. Piles of tiles. Piles of stones. Piles of clay. All of which we have already begun to reuse, reform, recreate into other things like sheds, cupboards, shutters, garden walls, composting structures and furniture.

January 1st the clouds parted and the sun shone and I rode out to face the new year. Still determined. 

And what I wanted more than anything else in that moment, was somewhere dry to store firewood. Just a simple wood shed. Nothing more. I looked around the land, at the materials at my disposal. And one pile of left over materials after another, I gathered the stuff needed and began that familiar slow creative process of making something.  Josh joined me. Together we built our wood shed. Stone wall foundation to level the base. 3 cement beams and filling blocks to make the raised floor. Chainsawed a 70 year old sweet chestnut roof beam rotting on the ground for last 3 years, to become 4 majestic pillars. Off cuts from our new eucalyptus roof beams, to tie in the pillars. Old wine vat slatted chestnut wood, nailed to form sides to hold the logpile in place also doubling as a strong trellis for River’s roses to plant. 

4 chunky wooden planks, once scaffolding boards, with floor boards sawed perfectly to size by Josh, form the generous roof structure upon which old thigh crafted clay tiles, carefully put aside at the start of the restoration work, sit atop their new abode, basking once again in the joy of doing what they were made to be. Tiles. For a roof. To hold off the rain. So the firewood can dry. And the hearth can burn its hottest. Thawing our toes and soothing our hearts.

It’s not a great piece of engineering or architecture. But it serves its purpose and I am proud of it. It’s just a simple wood shed. Built by my son and I in a day and half. Out of the debris left over from the creative journey of 2010.  And for that, each time I look out at it, or sit under it, or pass it, this simple wood shed is a ray of hope, that even in the midst of a bleak winter, paradoxically fills me with much hope and joy for the year ahead.  

May your 2011 be full of adventure and love. And the simple things that bring you joy.