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!

a gathered holiday tree

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On Sunday we went for a walk to gather materials for our Christmas tree. Last year we made it like this and the children wanted to do the same this year, but there are no holes in the house from which to hang it like that. While looking at a craft book we came across the idea of a pyramid made with sticks for a table center piece, and we all agreed if we made it bigger it would make a great holiday tree.To me It’s a beautiful tradition we are creating, the making of our tree, and it warms my heart to know that, they too, prefer to make one than to buy.

The tree itself is made with fallen sticks, mainly of acacia (there are loads of acacias here, it’s nearly or maybe worse than eucalyptus), and then we picked a few other bits to wind around the main sticks. It has ivy, maple, pine, cypress, more acacia and other bits that I can’t identify. I really like that is made from a variety of plants around us rather than just one specie.

We also made a new advent calendar. I usually come up with the ideas myself, but this year we all contributed to it. We mixed the papers (except special days like Solstice or Christmas eve), and then hang them up, that way no one knows exactly what the activity for the day is and is a surprise for us all.

Equinox

Equinox

equinox

frog

frogspawn

Since my last post we are no longer looking for signs of Spring, instead we’ve been admiring the yellow daffodils for a couple of weeks, plenty of wild garlic, though not big enough to pick, yet, and too many shoots to name.

We celebrated the equinox by planting seeds, made wax egg candles, dyed some eggs and attempted to reach the top of Conic Hill, but only got to about a third. The day before Easter I made a wee willow basket to serve as a nest, you tube is amazing!

half way Conic Hill

a nice friendly Giant

gorse

 

After New Years eve we felt a shift, well,  me and Paul did. Before December 31st, whenever people asked me “when are you going?”, the answer would be: next year! But after Hogmanay I realized, it IS this year! In nine, eight, seven months… not that I’m counting!

Sometimes it’s so hard to explain, I’m mean, IT IS hard to explain, this yearning, desire, but mostly, need for a simpler life, more connected to the outdoors, to nature… so much to be said, one day I will write it all down, for now it’s all bubbling inside.

Anyway, so after that realization that it is happening this year, we have been getting ready; giving away or selling things we no longer use or need, and things that we are kind of essential but we don’t really need, like drawers for example. the children’s clothes are now stored in plastic tubs and next it’ll be ours. It is still a few months away but the idea is to get us all used to this system, so that this will become the familiar to make for a easier transition, or so I hope that it’ll help.

Before I was just excited, now I’m a bit scared too, which curiously I think is a good thing! I think it means I’m not just being a romantic, but more realistic.

 

 

 

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

signs of spring

Daffodils and Jack-by-hedge

signs of spring

Elder

signs of spring

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

signs of spring

 

Snow drops and I think ground elder

signs of spring

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!

signs of spring

Playing “don’t step on the snow drops”

signs of spring

signs of spring

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

Autumnal Equinox

Yesterday we celebrated the Autumnal Equinox with our friends at the home education group. We made a communal soup on a open fire, inspired by the stone soup story. We have been doing this for three years, and is something that I really recommend to do as a group when the weather gets colder. Each family brings a vegetable (just two or three is enough, you don’t need the full bag), then you cut it and throw it all in a pot. While the soup is cooking, you can tell the story of the stone soup, as we also did. Seasonal baking is also recommended, and we were lucky to enjoy that too!

It is a very special thing to come together like that! Food cooking and sharing is  a special thing indeed, besides it’s delicious too!