you don’t get rainbows without a little rain
We have frogs!
At least three, all living in our pond.
Which is great, because the insects have taken notice and started to move in,
so the frogs are extremely welcome to eat, drink and be merry.
And make their adorable communications at dusk.
They occasionally make loud croaking noises,
it almost sounds like a off-key ducks quacking, especially around dusk,
and started last week with the first one probably calling its friends over,
but today we heard three distinct voices,
and have seen two lounging on the cattails,
while a third had splooshed into the pond as we approached.
We are really excited to have a pond,
and have put a lot of work into keeping it flowing.
it is a natural puddle that was dug deeper into the clay,
now with a few clusters of cattails growing within,
but naturally won’t hold most of its volume.
So we ran a hose into it from our gardening water,
and so the water flows downhill and bubbles into the pond,
keeping the water aerated and preventing stagnation.
I’ve cleared the overgrowth from around its banks,
and during the next Flower transplanting time,
I will transplant several wild irises from the nearby woods,
and also several dozen of the wild iris seeds,
that I’ve collected from stalks in the patch growing at the nearby Spring,
replanting them all around the perimeter of the pond,
to bring some color to that part of the yard.
During the most recent Flower transplanting time,
we moved more of the honeysuckle vines
out of the ruin and onto the fenceposts in front.
There is also a wild rosebush growing out of the front of the roof
that we plan to move that to a nearby fencepost as well.
(The ruin is built of tiapa, compressed earth,
so very fertile for these wildflowers.)
There is also a huge old grapevine trailing over the wall
from the neighbors’ yard. We intend to nurture it as much as possible,
incorporating it into our patio trellis, and encouraging it to form roots down on our side.
The ruin is now completely cleared of blackberry bushes,
and after a few more Flower and Fruit transplanting days,
will be cleared of honeysuckles and some saplings as well.
We met with our neighbor that owns the rest of the ruin last weekend,
to discuss property boundaries, building plans, and such.
He’s an elderly Dutch man, who also gave us some history of the area:
the ruin across the street used to be a mill, set on a canal from our river.
The canal has been filled in, now planted with bamboo.
The ruin (that we partially own, we have the workshop/stable,
he owns the four-room house itself) was the birthplace
of the father of the farmer who lives uphill from all of us.
Upon someone’s death, the land was split up by inheritance,
and the ruin, too, was divided.
Their section of the ruin is beautiful,
totally overgrown with trees inside the rooms.
I dream of clearing out the blackberries
and transforming their space into a flower garden,
but I like it as is, and am really glad that they have left it untouched.
They also own the land directly across the street from us,
that is very fertile land completely overrun with blackberries,
it would make great goat pasture.
But as for our land, at the moment we have our hands full.
There are some overgrown oak trees intermixed with blackberries,
really they are tangles of sucker-growth from big old stumps,
intertwined with blackberries, creating unhealthy, unbalanced growth.
So we’ve been pruning them back, uncovering a cactus garden in the process.
It has been a lot of work,
during which my mind keeps pondering
about the spaces we tend,
and the spaces left untended.
Years ago, while reading a book on Fungshui for the home,
I came across a passage about how clutter disrupts the flow within a room,
and how the placement of the clutter can have reverberations in the rest of life.
So expanding the concept and applying it to our property,
any neglected area of our yard will affect more than its own space,
any place not tended with love could infect those that are.
Since these neglected areas surround our home,
especially clustered on a hillside above our bedroom,
I think it is essential to transform this space:
a terraced pathway full of strawberry fields.
Once these oak trees are pruned back and reined in,
we will have a lot more sunny hillside with rick soil for planting strawberries.
Thanks to my brother and sister-in-law who sent us strawberry seeds for Christmas,
enough for 50 square meters (450 square feet) of strawberry fields,
so we’ll be clearing a lot of land for planting them.
We also will be transplanting a fig tree cutting nearby,
because they grow really well here and we love figs
almost as much as we love strawberries.
Both are great fresh,
fingers dripping with their juices.
Every morning when we awake,
we are relieved that this is our home.
We are so grateful to live here.
Last weekend a Swiss couple from our Portuguese class came to visit
with their four-year-old son, Sebastian. He and Marmalade played really nice,
even holding hands while walking through the path in the bamboo forest.
They live about 10 minutes away, on 11 hectares of land,
on the winding road that leads to one of the markets
(passing four horses, two pigs, a few goats, and countless fields of sheep).
We plan to stop and visit their homestead on our next shopping trip.
It’s nice to have friendly people come to visit, share advice,
and slowly becoming friends through our weekly interactions.
And as our Portuguese skills become more extensive,
we are more able to communicate with the locals:
mostly farmers and shepherds from the older generations,
who have all been kind, friendly, and generous,
especially once Marmalade smiles and says “Bom Día”
which warms even the most guarded hearts.
I’m sure some might be suspicious of foreigners moving in,
yet those that we’ve met, and who’ve seen the work we’ve been doing,
have given kindly nods and wave, sometimes stopping for short chats;
which has gone a long way in making us feel at home here.
It’s now the weekend,
and today is a rainy Root trine,
during Northern transplanting time,
so today I planted out our first batch of sprouted potato tops,
between passing showers.
You don’t get rainbows without a little rain.