Saturday, March 26, 2011

Hi Ho Hi Ho, It's off to WWOOF we go.

What a wonderful thing is Wwoofing. It has been so lovely working, eating and spending time with the Wwoofers that have come to Moses this year. Linwei, Peter, Liz and now Julie and Damian. A beautiful exchange of energy. They provide manpower and good company. We provide hospitality and great food that Arlene is cooking up every day.

This is Moses, our 3 bedroom cottage that we first restored and lived in for 18 months as a family while we were restoring our farmhouses up the hill. We are renting this cottage out for holidays and retreats later in the year, but for now it is providing super Wwoofing accommodation.

Here's Peter the Hungarian. "Egészségedre" amigo! We miss you already pal, and do so very much hope that we will meet again. Hopefully we'll go one day to your place in the Hungarian mountains and you can arrange a pálinka tasting tour, like the one I subjected you to around the Adegas of our local villages. I look forward to bouncing little hungary hungarian peters up and down on my knee while you catch a fish.

I am also most grateful to Peter for introducing me to the notion of Wabi-Sabi. The Japanese art of imperfection. In one masterfully hammered 9" nail in the roof structure of this new herb garden shed, his only nail in fact, he managed to reposition the perfectly vertical door post to a most imperfect 20 degree angle. One nail and his mark is left with us for us always to remember the man and smile!

Liz left us on Thursday. She threw herself into anything we asked her to do and to listen to her evening pre dinner piano recitals waft through the house out over the terraces was simply divine. 2 new hedgerows on the terrace (where we are slowly creating a cricket net garden) and one new line of conifers and rosemary bushes on the path down from the farmhouse. Thanks Liz. Thanks for the pictures too and the song you wrote for us. Fabulous. Hope all goes well in Morocco and beyond.  (Follow Liz's travel blog here.)

On Monday an English couple, Damian and Julie, arrived from a 3.5 months trip round Morocco and wanted to stop at Moses to repay some of the generosity they received over there. They've industriously cleared one section of forest from the rock roses, small pine trees and straggly cuttings of the gorses and lavenders, enough for Liz and I to shred 33 bags of woodchip . Our own pot pourri for the dry toilets. Nice.

They've helped plant trees including three beautiful living sculptures on the water garden terrace above the sugar maples at the top of the land. In 3 big holes that River dug out last year, there are now several huge upturned pine tree roots. 3 or 4 birch trees are planted right next to them at angles from the centre. Over time we hope the birches will thicken and mold into the roots, creating a strange gnarled sculpture all by themselves. It felt like a big Art Attack in the forest. Like an installation in the wilderness. One that wont be ready to truly appreciate for another 15 years or so. Just when the maples start to leak their syrup.

And as they had the know how, we let them prune the old pear trees in the kitchen garden. Yesterday it was a bit rainy, so Julie linseed oiled the stairs in the house and Damian lime painted red the courtyard walls, digging up the old fig tree for good measure. It's all go, every day.  All those little jobs that are on our endless mental lists of things to do here. Well, with these lovely wwoofers, it looks like we might get a good crack at getting quite a bit of that list done. How do you spell relief? WWOOF.

At last the hammock Michelle gave us a few years back is up on the yoga eternity deck. My days. No better way to relax as the sun goes down. We've also had a couple of yoga classes from River on this deck, when the afternoons have been sunny enough, it can be mid twenties. Delicious temperature to unfold our mats and ourselves.

Kids are good. Been a bit end of termy poorly with snivels and coughs. But as they say round here, "é normal, é o tempo". Ellie had a music concert at school this week for their Founders Day. Played the Titanic splendidly with her class on the recorders. Josh got himself elected President of the Pupil Association as well to boot. Cinco estrellas filhos! Make us proud dont ya just!

Far from the maddening chaos of rising global revolution, crashing economies, earth expanding quakes, radioactive volcanoes, we know how extraordinarily lucky we are to be here, living simply like this, in the middle of the Portuguese forest mountains and valleys. Yet our hearts go out to all of our fellow earthlings who are suffering unimaginably at the moment with what looks to all intent and purpose, like a vortex of death and destruction over our planet.

Hang on in there fellow earthlings. Hold tight. It's gonna be a bumpy few months ahead. Somehow we gotta come out the other side of all this in love. And if you have not yet done so already, sell all you have and buy land. Love and land. That'll do.

In respect and peace


Friday, March 11, 2011

Caught from Freefalling. By River

Sometimes, just sometimes the spirit falls, falls into poverty.  Sometimes we see the signs of death of loss of all that we have lost along the struggle, for personal freedom and integrity at every turn.  This falling to me feels very much like a dance, a leap and a freefall into sadness, fear and despair.  I fell recently, I fell so hard and so fast my head spun.  In truth, it span and fell with love.  It’s funny when that happens when we walk with the soul bare and stripped.  Recently, my tears just fell and fell unheeded sometimes with love, sometimes in fear sometimes in just having lost my compass.  

It is at these times when we feel our most alone, when we feel that the sun will never shine again.  When we feel the dying pains of the earth and those around us that help is required.  And, oh what help has come to me.

Today, my Memphis came home from a trip to see his family with my old car from London full of my Mummies life and presents from his Mum, Dad and Aunty Sally for the kids.  How to explain the feeling of receiving a car load of soft velvet curtains, and string, and knitting needles and all the lovely soft aspects of the feminine, of the womanly?  We Winters have moved 8 times in three years, we have spent some hard winters here in Portugal and some glorious springs.  This winter was most definitely the hardest for me, we arrived in our home so to speak and I unpacked and saw all that had been left behind.  What grace, what joy to still be here, to be finally indoors and playing with soft things.  To be reminded that though I may belong to the clan of the wild woman, a woman who gardens on the edge of wilderness and fights with all her strength to provide for her family that I am still someone’s daughter, daughter-in-law, neighbor, friend, niece, sister, cousin, lover, mum and of course dog mum.   

Finally the great deep depth of earth we will use for our vegetable patch is drying out and I have dug over 5 beds now.  My heart is so full of gladness to still be here, to finally be here. To be here with my Mum and my kids and to have so much of Memphis’ family all over our walls and in the kitchen cupboard and on the kitchen table.    Yes "Tom"  all we do need is love and an infinite amount of patience.  

I still hope for everything we came here for.  A thriving vegetable patch, flowers at every turn, repaired stone walls, chickens, ducks, sheep, more dogs and of course people.  Will those things happen?  Who knows, but how can we live without dreaming, without hoping beyond hope.  At the end of these days of daily action and single steps, step by step, the only thing I can now do is bow to devotional love, the love of karma of joy of fulfillment in each day, irrespective of the actions taken or the success of individual projects.  

Thank you for the encouragement Sally, Papops and Aunty Sally.

Om shanti, Peace and Love. Beloved. 

River xxx

Wwoof Wwoof!

Hey ho peeps.

A couple of updates on the restoration work and then a piece from River I'll post up after.

Our third Wwoofer arrived yesterday. Liz from Kentucky, via Oz and Dublin and Edinburgh, who is new to Wwoofing. As is Peter who arrived direct from Hungary on Sunday, via New Zealand and Germany. As was Linwei, our very first wwoofer who came for a fortnight in February from China via Florence Uni. So our first 3 "willing workers" have all been first timers. As are we. And its going well.

Linwei helped us gather eucalytpus branches from the midst of the forest to make posts and fences and gates around the kitchen garden. Pruned one section of our woodland bushes then shredded the cuttings to make 22 bags of great woodchip to replace the sawdust we were using. And cooked the best egg fried rice ever!

Peter this week has helped put the soil on the green roof (finally!) ready for seeding shortly, dig over the new herb garden, countless wheel barrow trips with bark chip and compost and rabbit poop for the veggie beds, and an afternoon sawing down the young pine trees in the woods above the house. Plus a cheeky fishing trip to the Zêzere last night.

Our bedroom looks like a greenhouse as River has begun her annual seed push. Little veggies and flowers are in the process of taking over the house. Which is good cos we like veggies and flowers. Alot. And outside we've been busy preparing the beds to plant out the seedlings currently growing inside.

The wee mezzanine storage area is up in the treatment room, the new wood brushed with linseed oil and pigment, and fresh mimosa yellow lime paint caressed onto the walls. My first massage on that table was bliss. And boy how the back holds 2 years of physical labour. Looking forward to giving and receiving regular treatments with River.

And meanwhile Springtime relentlessly pursues her inevitable arrival as the Mimosa explodes in patches of yellow out of the forest heralding to all of nature around it to consider the possibility of allowing themselves to flower at some point soon. Stuff to soothe the soul.

May the Spring sunshine warm all your hearts.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

"Anyone can sing"

Lots happening here at Moses. We'll put up a proper blog soon with more pics and videos of the forest and gardens restoration work. But read this poem today sent by Panhala. They have some great poems and accompanying photos. (If you fancy subscribing to Panhala, send them a blank email to

Anyone can sing

Anyone can sing. You just open your mouth,
and give shape to a sound. Anyone can sing.
What is harder, is to proclaim the soul,
to initiate a wild and necessary deepening:
to give the voice broad, sonorous wings
of solitude, grief, and celebration,
to fill the body with the echoes of voices
lost long ago to bravery, and silence,
to prise the reluctant heart wide open,
to witness defeat, to suffer contempt,
to shrink, lose face, go down in ignominy,
to retreat to the last dark hiding-place
where the tattered remnants of your pride
still gather themselves around your nakedness,
to know these rags as your only protection
and yet still open - to face the possibility
that your innermost core may hold nothing at all,
and to sing from that - to fill the void
with every hurt, every harm, every hard-won joy
that staves off death yet honours its coming,
to sing both full and utterly empty,
alone and conjoined, exiled and at home,
to sing what people feel most keenly
yet never acknowledge until you sing it.
Anyone can sing. Yes. Anyone can sing.

~ William Ayot ~

And if you're struggling to have anything to sing about, watch even just 1 part of this documentary on the Monarch butterfly and be amazed. Surely we are the same as butterflies....