Thursday, October 11, 2018

Blinding with Positivity!

The summer recess is over, and it is time to get blogging again.  Long summer - again - 5 months of zero rain, and counting... September hot again, with regular 30c.  But the cork oaks are looking in great condition, and have been actively growing over the last weeks. Other features of this year, figs extremely late, just a few maturing now, but most for sure won't make it - last year we were harvesting and drying them by the bucket-load every day from early September.  Medronho berries, very late too, grapes, very good - we shall have wine!

It was a "tame" summer's start, as it was a beautiful spring...

Low stress for the new additions to the artificial indiginous "ecosystem" which I am slowly integrating with the roots of natural succession.  Friendly intervention is the overall plan.

I put in this photo of rampant green from last spring because it looks so unworldly now, compared to this summer picture with our 3 Várzea girls....

Left to right, Jaya, Megan, Ayla

So what's been going on at the Várzea?   Summer is the quiet time, for the land and for us. I irrigate, we harvest and dry, go to the beach, camping trips in the local nature, there are festas, I go on cycle-rides... that's summer.,.

Then at the start of September, there's the "eek" moment, when I realise that actually there are a lot of things to be done before it rains. Only we don't know when it is going to rain.  "Usually" any time from the beginning of September but this year (again) we are in October without wetness.  Good for me in some ways, as I am just completing Megan's new yurt....

.... it's just about ready to move in to now, in fact, but it looks nice as the skeleton. (keen eyed observers will spot the resident-to-be on top of the original yurt behind...)

She's 10 now and our present 6-metre one just ain't big enough for the both of us anymore. The new one is 5 metres and designing the skeleton took a fair bit of head-scratching and maths. Thankfully the canvas was scavenged from an old marque-tent we had lying around for many years (since the European WWOOF conference here in 2013 in fact).

Helping me out for the last couple of months has been Sean, originally from Bromsgrove, England, and veteran long-distance walker.  Brilliant news is that he looks to be here for the winter - it's a pleasure to have a great-natured, as well as skilled and conscientious, assistant, for a good spell of time, helping with the many projects, presently, and on the agenda for this winter.

Here he is helping us amass a gigantic pile of cut willow from the riverside, a semi-regular coppicing, all ready to be put through the industrial shredder next week. I did extol the magic of small-branch wood-chip on a previous blog - it is the best of the best for stimulating and feeding the underground fungal networks, the mycorrhizae, which are the elixir of life to the developing food-forest.

Also gigantic piles of horse manure and straw, ready for mulching in the winter (this is just one).

My big water feature/ponds still not finished, but not far off, and it will be ready by the spring, promise!

In a couple of weeks I'm off to a plant fair near Faro to collect my order of native seedling trees and bushes to be planted as soon as the ground gets wet.

Star among these will be a couple of hundred "azinheiras", or Iberian holm oak, which are (at least in my experience) impossible to find around this region, though with little doubt they were once a big part of the ecosystem in the days of the native forests. Cut for their prized wood, they were slowly taken out of the ecosystem over centuries. They resist drought more than the other oaks, and in good time I hope they can once again become part of a strong diverse nature-scape.

I do whinge about the late rain, but nature doesn't do regrets or recriminations - these are human things. If you've ever destroyed an ant-colony,  the remaining ants just carry on... put into human thinking, you would say that they stand at that moment and say "this is where we begin!" 

Reminds me of this identical quote by, prefixed by "everything that happened before is RUBBISH!",  by Malcolm McLaren, the instigator of the Sex Pistols in the seventies, summing up the attitude of the music and energy. Plenty would disagree with the sentiment, but the positivity is unquestionable, and liberating. 

I believe that all the aspects of nature, plants and animals and the rest, feel their version of joy, as an expression of positivity.  Life is a positive force - it dismantles the whole physical law of entropy - ask any physicist how this can be and they will, if they are honest, tell you it is bamboozling!  This is what is at the basis of life, it embodies positive force, harnessing energy for creativity

The blog title? I couldn't resist this little reference to a couple of feedback comments from our permaculture internship of a couple of years back. It was a strange time, and an eye-opener to how disconnecting the act of thinking can be.  Feel your feelings. Don't think about them. Then only positive will prevail. This is the natural process.

More in a few weeks - honest!  Maybe even green grass....