Last week, one afternoon while I was out trimming grass,
one of our usual passersby leaned out of his van
and said “muito trabalho” (a lot of work).
I think he was complimenting us on all the yard work we have done,
but perhaps he was pointing out all the work left to do.
Either way, I said “Sí, indeed.”
It has been a lot of work,
and continues to be so.
This morning I must’ve cleared 5 square meters (45 square feet) of our yard,
waist-high grasses and other dried stems of wildflowers
from around a giant cactus, the bases of a few of the cork oak trees,
and a patch where we want to put another garden box.
After laying the grass on the patched and regraded driveway,
we’ve been adding mulch, bucketsful, until it feels almost like carpeting.
(We collect and scatter 8 big buckets and two sacks full of mulch each weekday,
and have been all month, and will continue to do so until we run out of mulch or yard.)
We are more than halfway up the driveway path, and halfway up the bamboo path, too.
Also, this past weekend was a Flower transplanting time,
so, as you might have guessed, we’ve transplanted a lot of flowers.
First, while out getting mulch, I dug up two huge clusters of a purple wildflower,
and replanted them in cork planters around the front of the house.
I had been eyeing them for awhile, as they’re really vibrant for January flowers,
and had been waiting until this transplanting time to bring some home.
And then, after clearing several barrels of blackberries from the ruin,
we were able to dig out and transplant more honeysuckles,
to weave into, and almost complete, our first stretch of honeysuckle fence.
(I had woven a gown out of Virginia creeper vines years ago,
and this fence project has tapped into that tactile memory.)
While finishing up weaving the last tendrils of honeysuckle,
I noticed something out the corner of my eye creeping along the fence.
At first I thought it might be a spider, but soon saw that it was a mantis,
a kind like I’d never seen before: brown, horned, with a curled scorpion-like tail.
Its movements were slow (maybe due to the chilly weather) yet precise,
and after two days it has remained on the fence, not far from where we met it.
I’m glad it’s moved in: “good fences make good neighbors!”
Otherwise, I’ve been baking,
(since it heats up the house, body and soul):
lots of muffins ( hokkaido squash-walnut
and carrot cakelets with cream cheese frosting),
and wholegrain sourdough rolls stuffed with melty cheese
(I accidentally made sourdough a weeks ago, when extra pizza dough went sour,
so I fed it and fed it and fed it again, and now has become a sourdough starter,
so a lot more sourdough baking projects await.)
And while the oven is on,
I’ve been roasting chestnuts.
Marmalade is absolutely nuts for them,
and we all can’t resist them fresh from the oven.
As an aside, I’d love to get a chestnut tree,
but I’m not sure it could survive here.
(They do grow in Portugal,
but from my experiences hiking in Italy,
they prefer colder, more mountainous settings.)
We also want to get a walnut tree,
and from our experience in Austria,
where they grew in sunny patches near lakes and streams,
we should be able to grow one in the sunny roadside near the pond.
We are nuts for nuts,
and they go well with all the fruit we are growing.
And they’d go great in all the muffins I’ve been baking.