trees and stones

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What a breath of fresh air, literally, it is to get out of the city and head to the mountain! We left, with a bag packed with snacks and not much of a plan, only to head to the woods. We all miss it, not just me.

Ever since we moved to Lisbon, I want to move out, and I think, we all do. In fact the only reason we decided to rent this flat is my lack of driving license, which is frustrating me a lot! I did try, but failed my test and with a few unfortunate events, couldn’t set the exam again, and now I must start all over again in Portugal…

I have been wanting to write about Lisbon, but it’s hard to talk about it “publicly”, mainly because it hasn’t been a very positive experience. It’s not been really that bad, but  when your heart is not in it and what you want is a another kind of life, it just gets a bit difficult, especially as our days would look a bit different if only I had passed that bloody driving test!

The first month was very good, we had friends and family visiting and we had just moved; then Paul started work, and things went bad and some days I feel quite sad for being “stuck” in the city, with not even a garden to get my hands dirty… other days we really enjoy! Making new friends, finding the wilder spaces in a not so wild city, making use of the culture available and getting out as much as possible. There has been plenty of hot beach days too, which is very good indeed!

Back to today, we picked wild carrot (I hope Cat was with us so that she could tell us for sure), as it’s for dyeing I’m not terribly bothered about it’s identification, but it would be nice to know! I’ve been seeing this plant a lot when we go out of the city and was glad to gather some today. Also spotted the first Saint Jonh’s wort since leaving Lousã. The picture is not properly focused, but the battery of my camera died after this one taking this photo, but I wanted to document it anyway. Unfortunately we didn’t gather any, not even for my daughter’s “bouquet”  as there was only one plant, I will keep my eyes peeled for more.

 

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Orange trees

spring (3)Before I took this picture, I was made to stop by the smell of springtime of my childhood! I grew up in the Algarve, in a house surrounded by orange trees. As you probably can imagine the smell of a flowering orange tree is quite intense, even if it’s only a few trees in the center of a big city! I could smelled them before I realized what kind of tree I was passing by.

How does one explains the smell of a flowering orange tree, or the feeling of a warm summer night looking at the stars? On these moments I feel the wonder, that after so many years of planning, we’re really living here! Sometimes, well, maybe most of the time, the daily routine takes over and I just go along with it… cooking, doing the laundry, bed times, etc, in many ways these are the same as they were: we still need nourishing food, sleep and washed clothes to wear. But then on these apparently, small moments, it downs on me that we made a dream come true, well, at least part of it, the other part will soon come!

Spring

spring (1)spring (12)spring (14)spring (16)spring (18)spring (23)spring (24)spring (32)spring (37)spring (46)spring (48)spring (50)spring (52)This area of Portugal is dominated by non-native trees, acacia and eucalyptus mainly, which do not loose their leaves in winter, one must look closely to see oaks, sweet chestnuts and other deciduous trees doted here and there, but in general, winter is a green season. On lower ground too, because of the mild temperatures some plants survive all winter therefore the ground is never bare.

I remember this time of the year in Scotland, so much promise on the first buds of the trees, the weeds and bulbs braving the temperatures and the ground starting to turn from brown to green. The excitement of the first (and second and third!) helpings of wild garlic and soon after nettles.

Nevertheless, Spring in Portugal still feels like the Earth is awaking, which it kind of surprised me, eleven years without experiencing this is a long time and back then I didn’t have as much awareness as I do now. Since the Earth around me never lost its greenery, I didn’t expect this feeling, but for a few weeks now everything is so much alive! Whereas in Scotland we get a burst of green, here we get a burst of color.The acacias turned to flower leaving some parts of the landscape in a greenish/yellowish colo, the fields planted with mainly cabbage and turnip grow their flowers, turning the fields and kitchen gardens into stripes of white and yellow. As we walk or drive throw these roads, my eyes are caught by the sight of the flowering fruit trees, in full bloom of white and pink. The animal kingdom too, contributes to this awakening, especially the birds, bugs and butterflies.

Signs of Spring

Today is Imbolc day, and so we left the house with a mission: to find signs of Spring.

Sure enough we found some, but also made me realize if we do decide to stay in Portugal or somewhere else, this might just be the last time we experience Spring this way! And of course, when you live in a place for ten years, raised a family and connected with the natural world in a deep way, there is something magical, definite and sad about it!

After the park we went to the shops, hail stones fell, my hands were freezing from being exposed to the elements, the wind was bitterly; and at that moment I didn’t feel that sad anymore… But that is Scotland.

 

First shoots of Daffodils

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Daffodils and Jack-by-hedge

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Elder

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It always impresses me the way daffodils use their mighty strength lift the dead leaves to make it throw

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Snow drops and I think ground elder

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Wherever my daughter goes, she finds something wild to eat, and it was her who first spotted this first shoots of wild garlic; before we know it we’ll be eating wild garlic pesto!

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Playing “don’t step on the snow drops”

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Joining in the wonder!

signs of spring

I think this might be blue bells; the flowers come in around May but this is a spot where we’ve seen them in previous years

signs of spring

Coll

Coll is this small island in the Inner Hebrides, and it’s amazing! Nine hours of travel totally worth it!

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Those tiny silver spots near the middle rock are seals, they were so close!

A big Thank you to the weather for giving us beautiful days to explore the islands and the sea around it, and, of course, to dear friends for taking us in the first place!