Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Keep on Rockin' in the Free World!

Holy moly, nae blog for over half a year!  Someone said they are missing them, so here is a new one.  Blogs come and blogs go, I know, but this inactivity isn't a sign that the Blog will be going - it is closing on a decade old already and will be with us in another decade for sure. Maybe the format will change - I certainly am hankering on doing small frequent ones rather than long ones. Time, as usual, will tell.

I don't want the missing 6 months to go unrecorded.  So, to begin,, I offer a little recap, for the sake of continuance.  What happened, way back when, 7 months back,  with the end-game of the drought summer?....

Well the first big event wasn't the first rain, but the arrival of Maive, Aga's baby daughter, born in her house, Ian the proud father.  The first birth at the Várzea for approximately 75 years!!  Here they are more recently....

Aga and Maive, first Várzea birth for 75 years

The great dryness came to an end.   Our well went low, not quite dry, the big tank gave us a welcome water-boost when needed, and the summer, with a hot sting in its tail, let go.   Good good good!

Change to autumn happens quite suddenly, and with it the mind-set.  Some by necessity, some without hardy realising the process.  Fixing roofs ready for the first rain for 4 months is an example of the former. You've got to roll with it. 

Life is a wholly positive force - accentuate the positive.  Grab your half a cc of chance whenever it comes to you and run with it. To quote Albert Einstein, as I am fond of doing,  

The autumn was brilliant, especially the weather.  We had our first relief on 17th September, about a centimeter of rain, We had to wait another month for the first proper stuff, of 10cm rain in 24 hours, and that got everything going - marvellous to see the river flowing again and the land changing from dry brown to vital green.  

What about the Free World?  The title of this new Blog, right?   Well, seems the world is the same as last year, only even stupider, and how otherwise, because people are addicted to electronic picture screens - someone else's blah, from the lunatics who have long since taken over the asylum.  Anyway I'm not preaching, I'm only saying that your life is indeed wonderful and free, you just need to live in it, and not getting lost in that hopeless little screen, as Leonard Cohen called it.

That's how I feel about the human world.  It is not, though, the way I feel about reality or my role in reality.      The Várzea is alive with good spirit, as the spirits of our ancestors still dwell among us, with remembrances of festas and social togetherness and plenty of medronho spirit too. The holiday season had plenty of events with great music food and wine, chilly weather too. 




The usual suspects, mostly.  We have, as active participants in the day-to-day work and creativity,    Pavel, myself, Kiara, Sean, and Edu, as well as Aga and Ian, and, gardening, Damon, and Holger who has his own garden as last year, supplying for his young family: Farnaz and young Alvin, 15 months now, and walking. 

Over the winter, In January in fact, we planted 18 plum trees and 10 more feijoa, or pineapple guava (Acca selowiana)(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feijoa_sellowiana), to add to the 50+ of these we have, already 2 and 3 years old.  They give delicious fruit and plenty already in 2-year old plants, strong and resistant to frost and dry.  The plums are of less "developed" varieties, more local too, "São Bras" and "Metheley", both small, dark, numerous, and early, ripe in June.

On the hills, no less relevant in the ongoing developent of the land, we have planted a few dozen more pines, and many baby medronho bushes, as well as agave and prickly pear cacti on a line up the boundary, as the beginning of fire-break and natural fence.

A new concept this year - the garden is split up into individual allotments, which works really well, each person having full control and responsibility for what they grow - of course there is consultation so everyone isn't growing the same thing.  Then there are also big communal potato and beetroot patches. 

Here's the beetroot patch being prepared for planting, about 500 balls of earth-blood.

We are sad to have lost Rob, since the autumn, we miss his energy, and wish him the best, but it was  great having Eduardo returning after 8 months away, and Sean, having been here a couple of years ago, back and doing really good stuff - I am especially grateful for his work in cutting the hillside scrub - a big annual task.  All in all, a good harmonious group.

The winter's big project was the re-modelling of our outdoor kitchen, This rustic facility, for our volunteer friends and occasional campers and visitors and coffees, and fermented concoctions, etc  has been fairly unchanged since its origin at the european wwoof conference here in 2013.  Until now...

Next, the outside dining area was slabbed (concrete slabs, that is) (you have to imagine the slabs!)

So, to the present moment - I hope you're not too confused by the shifting sands of time.  We are now in April 2021, and the soil is primed and ready for a massive spring growth, while alongside this, the people here are focusing a big part of their collective energy on the vegetable garden, and the spring plantings - the most important month in the year for getting a good food-supply initiated.  

Speaking of chess (was I?) the Várzea is in the grip of chess-fever.  Our new homeschool group (necessitated by the criminal measures imposed on the children at the municipal schools) has a chess class and league every wednesday, which consists of 6 kids (9 to 13) and 6 grownups from the Várzea.  Everyone's keen and the level is pretty well-balanced between bigs and smalls.  Here's the session under way last week...

We've 3 new goslings, who were immediately adopted by the 2 old females (mother and daughter) who are now new mums to the fast-growing young ones, here in the pond...  (the "dad" is Damon - rarely was there one so attentive)

Adios for now - I look forward to changing the blog format, with blogs every 2 or 3 weeks, and much shorter than my "traditional" style.   Stay tuned!


Jade said...

Thank you Chris for this great update !
I live reading about Varzea, happy to see it more alive then ever ...
Sean is the Sean i know ?? From 2013 ?
Great to see him back ! I wish i could travel to meet you guys and enjoy this freedom !

Unknown said...

Wow megan became such a beautiful young girl,its really nice to read your blog and see the pictures:) hop to pass by one day ! Hugs

Hannah said...

Yay! So glad to see this update, and that all is well over there. Chess league looks like so much fun <3

Anonymous said...

Great to have your news Chris, thank you and all best wishes to you and the Varzea!
Stephan (PDC 2014)