Monday, October 16, 2017

Deep and long... summer's end 2017

It's been a long slow summer.  14th October today, and still summer, 35 degrees on the thermometer in the shade.  Drought conditions have persisted in our part of the valley, which put several wells out of use, including ours, from the middle of August, and we here at the Várzea, until the start of September, were using river-water from our tube, running 500m from the upriver pools, for all purposes.  Happily, these maintained their water, but it was a close call, and if the summer here had been hotter, it would have been disasterous.

So, at end of August I commissioned a new well to be dug.   Zé Gato wth his JCB digger, and a delivery of eleven 2 metre-wide concrete rings, each of half-meter height, arrived on the 31st August.  By the end of the day the Várzea had a spanking new well, with 1.5 metres depth of life-giving water at the bottom.  At a cost of 1750 euros, a priceless resource.

First arrived the big yellow monster....



...who then made a ramp to make a lower staring point, to....



dig the hole....




.... to five metres deep.  At  this depth, we were going through bedrock, so that was as far as was possible.  Then went in the 2 metre diameter concrete rings....


... and finally the lid.  This is necessary mostly in case of beasties falling in, or a flood inundating the well and filling it with mud....



Ze Gato is an old accomplice and tremendous excavator operator, over the last 10 years having done many works here.

Crises do tend to have positive sides, and the water-situation has served to get neighbours realising the we need to work together to do what we can to improve the retention of water for future years.
So we had a very hippy-style talking circle, to talk about these things, and what to do....





Co-operative digging of swales and terraces on the hill-slopes, planting trees, making dams on the gullies, diverting winter water onto organic-matter-rich land. Either manually, or sharing costs of a machine where the land could really use it.  It is a good example of how an issue which could, and has done in many places in many times, be divisive to a neighbourhood, can instead become a unifying cause.



Slow times and warm summer days are not conducive to work, neither to Blog-writing, as you may
have noticed.  Apart from judicious irrigation and keeping an eye on the water, drying tomatoes, and, more recently, figs, we've had plenty of beach time, and some small constructions.  Here, with Megan, a budgie cage....


... new chicken-house nearly finished...





  ... and there are the regular things, like the friday night kids film show...






The summer school holidays here in Portugal are over 3 months long and it's been good spending quality time with Megan, and with friends.
One amazing place, 50km north of Aljezur, is known as the turtle lake, a fantastic oasis arising from only a tiny stream in a not-especially-interesting little valley.  Here we were celebrating a birthday....



The turning of the seasons has its own interplay with the psyche, and the continuing learning process, which will always be happening when one is in such close connection with natural systems

I find the cycle of the year is continually instructing my outlook, the main lesson of which is to go with this flow and react to it creatively, rather than making plans and impatiently waiting tor the opportunities to carry them out.  The old folk fully realise the wisdom in this mentality, which is why they never get stressed, and yet do everything necessary with minimum energy, making it all look so easy.

So now, we have a positive prediction of rainfall for the next week!  This is so welcome.  The arrival of rain sparks a whole new start in the plans for the land, and I have many ideas and schemes just waiting for the opportunity to be carried out, land and infrastructure improvements and, of course, a lot of tree-planting again.  



From the start of November I have good help here also, with 3 friends from last winter returning each for a few months on a volunteer basis.  The tree-nursery has been refurbished ready for numerous cuttings and seedings of acorns, chestnuts, walnuts, and also more exotic nitrogen-fixing trees.

This year's long drought helped foster the Daoist mentality of an open-minded acceptance of the conditions, and with that an understanding of how to be one with the flow, or lack of it.   To a global consciousness tending always towards a more rational-based, head-based outlook these considerations aren't easy to understand.

The trend continues, global mentality being increasingly divorced from its source, the commonality of our DNA with all the natural world. 

It is the humility of the Doaist approach which allows wisdom.

"The Dao that can be told is not the eternal Dao"
"The name that can be named is not the eternal name"   

This, at a stroke, dismisses all religious and doctrinal 
"certainties" as unessessary, or at best incomplete.  

In my personal outlook, we, through our DNA, are antennae to the information and energy pervading the world around us.  Our rational mind is a tool of interpretation.  Taking the view that it is what  controls, or can control, our lives on its own, is one reason many peoples lives are plainly rediculous.

So, this is signing off the summer at last.  I hope to be woken up in the early hours tonight by the poetic patter of rain on our yurt roof..... Yaahoo!!!! will shout me, and the land...

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