A man in full works the soil, and takes pleasure from transforming the land into a plot ready to nurture the greens and vegetables we look forward to enjoying as the year progresses. At least the man I’m looking out of the window at from my office, as he lays cardboard and horse manure down in a permaculture plan to enrich the garden plot left to us by the prior owners of Vivenda Vista da Paz.
Last summer in Portugal, we visited with our friends, Diogo and Louise, as Diogo brought into fruition the permaculture gardens at Quinta de Sant’Ana, and Stephen was fascinated by way they talked of making the nutrients and organisms within the ground work together to create healthy soil. He has been hatching plans for his own garden experiment–a step beyond the Random Garden at our little home in Praia das Maçãs, where he used kitchen waste to transform the hill of sand into a productive garden. I’m afraid the folks who moved in after us didn’t appreciate what they had–we were taken to task for leaving “a mess.” Sigh. You cannot change the irreparably dense..
We bought the house outside of Hagerstown, Maryland, for its land, and the shed all ready to accept a little John Deere tractor. S bought a trolley to tow behind it, and the two of them have spent the last five weeks crafting the rows that will host salad greens and herbs as soon as we’re sure the frost danger has diminished. With our strange winter here, we have no idea. With the warm-ish winter, we wondered when our last frost would come–and our last snow. As it turned out, we had snow flakes blowing out of windy skies just last week, in April–and a frost just a couple of days ago. But the early spring predicted by the groundhog has come to pass.
S has a new best friend–his Wilson next door–the neighbor who has been so helpful to us. He brings us eggs from his chickens–and they wander across our yard, blithely unaware of the dogs that might turn against them, and they pick out the bugs and leave their droppings, which is fine with us. He brings us hearty soups from his wife’s kitchen, and cookies at the holidays. We’ve returned in kind. He even dispatched an old cockerel and S turned it into coq au vin, which we shared with the kind couple. We look forward to more cooperative living here on our acre as the last of winter turns to spring.
We also have kitties, a band of barn cats that have wandered into our lives and taken up residence in a shelter S made for them–until such time as the dogs think of them as friends as opposed to prey. Sadly, the male, Lil Blue, left us last week, the victim of a speeding car along the road that passes the house. We made a little cross to mark his eternal spot–and S has sorely missed his companion….Blue would follow him as he worked on the garden, getting underfoot and generally inserting himself in the midst of things. The others–the girls, Tuga and Fluffer–miss him too. Such is the ebb and flow of life.
We hold onto the circle of life, the transitioning of the spring season with its flowering trees and sprouts popping up through the soil, as a reassurance in unsettled times that life continues its cycle and we’re but its shepherds within it.