Sunday, October 14, 2012

Autumn at Vale de Moses

Hey peeps. Finally the rains have come, and the forest has drunk deeply from the soaking. As have we. The water table is rising. The bore hole is refilling and the old Moorish water mine is once again overflowing. The mornings are crisp and misty and the evenings cold enough for us to light up the wood burning stoves in the houses. That long hot Portuguese Summer has passed and Autumn has arrived. Graças a Deus.

At the start of October we were most honoured to host a lovely group from Holland who came with their yoga teacher Mijke Linders. It was the first time we have had a Yoga teacher bring their students on retreat here and it is something we hope to do much more of in 2013. Mijke led the morning classes and a few afternoon workshops, I cooked and Vonetta massaged. Twas a truly wonderful week and we are particularly thankful to one of the group, Mirande Phernambucq, who took some stunning photos during her stay.

We have one more small retreat to run this year and then we will be hibernating as a family for winter (including Christmas with Von's family in Barbados - not been back for 7 years, way too long!). But before that, we are taking advantage of the still hot sunny afternoons to look after the land. Putting the kitchen gardens to bed for the winter, clearing more of the forest scrub around the houses, and attacking the jungle of brambles and shrubs on the terraces along the 2 rivers that run at the bottom of the valley.

To help us do this we have a beautiful young couple wwoofing until November, Fanny from Sweden and Felipe from Brasil,  who are with us for a few weeks on the start of a year long adventure. They are both avid photographers and we're enjoying their view of our home in the forest through the lenses of their cameras, through their eyes. Thanks guys.

We also said goodbye to Chris and Anette who after 3 months with us to deepen their practice of Suikido, have moved on to another forest wilderness retreat space, Inner Peace, further south in the Algarve. It was a privilege to have them here with us this summer and we wish them all the best in their journey here in Portugal. Força Suikido!

In between all the people coming and going, it's Vindima time in Amieira. Grape picking wine making fun with our neighbours Laurinda and José & Eugenia. It's a harvest festival season. Families and friends returning from all over the world to gather in the sweet abundance of the vines and ensure the rivers of juice that flow are preserved in the ancient art of making wine in Portuguese Adegas.

So glorious to be able to share this experience once again (was our fifth year of vindimas), especially as we won't be making wine from our own grapes this year (half the vines unfortunately were burnt in the August fires). But we will again one day.

One day I'll make another Adega here. One day I'll get round to grafting all the old vines with new ones. One day Vale de Moses will produce wine, not the 8000 litres a year they used to make here, but enough to share with friends, guests and visitors in the winters, springs and summers that will follow.

I'll leave you with a video below on our YouTube channel, a wee Autumn update showing the charred forest landscape and introducing just one of our jobs for this season - putting the kitchen garden to bed. Instead of veggies next year, we're going to lay a lawn! After 4 years of crop planting we're gonna have grass to lie on. Under the shade of fruit and olive trees. Plus some new big beds for flowers and keeping the smaller kitchen garden beds for salads, tomatoes and herbs. Exciting to move things around again. Constantly creating. Never stops.

The veggies are moving down to the river terraces where we'll be able to irrigate them better using the water collected by the açudes (little stone dams) that we'll be restoring over the next few weeks. The açudes also mean that in the soaring heat of next summer, we'll have some long cascading shady natural river pools for us, our guests and, of course, Moses to swim and cool down in. Delicious.

Thanks for tuning in.