Friday, 24 February 2012

Candle light in the woods

Dusk falls, dawn rises, the sky beyond the edge of the woods swells gently in and out of night and day. When the moon is bright, it rises and turns the wood to silver and drenches us in its ethereal light. The curtains are going up slowly, on average one a day, so until dark moon came, our nights were bright, but snug under our warm blankets.
Life outside our cabin in the woods is continuing as normal, not pausing to let us breathe after our move and settle into the land. Commitments continue but when I dissolve into the golden lamplight every night it feels as though the sanctuary of our new home is enfolding us in a warm embrace. Because our electricity is limited at present to one leisure battery, (nearly flat) its candles and oil lamps in the evening, and the atmosphere of calm this creates pervades nearly all of us.

Candlelight is limited to right where we are, and it is soft and gentle, blurring the edges of the washing up not yet done or the laundry  not yet done. It brings me into the moment, this one right now.

Last night, Leo bathed in the golden glow while Tansy practiced her lyre, and as I put the finishing touches to our veg crumble I felt suffused by an immense calm and gratitude for the moment I was in. I spend so much time living outside the moment, that these moments of sinking into the present feel like a precious balm. Everything seemes perfect, everything flowed.

How do you manage to find these moments of tranquility and connection to now?

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Water in the woods

Water, how we appreciate it at the moment. When we turn the tap and it actually flows, it seems like a miracle! For the time being, we are tapping in to our neighbour's bore hole, some three hundred metres away, and pumped up with a pump in another neighbours house, with a generator owned by someone else, and stored in an enormous tank. Sounds complicated? It is. The over ground, unlagged pipes currently in place are woefully inadequate for use in sub zero temperatures, hence our sporadic supply in the cold snap. In time, we will bury the pipes, in the longer term, we will connect up to our own bore hole (located on yet another person's land) and fill our own tank when we have the time and funding in place. Phew!

For the moment our water system is archaic, as the drainage from our cabin is also not complete. So every drop of water used or consumed inside must be manually carried out by the bucketful...washing up water, laundry water, bath water, ...and when the pipes freeze, carried in too! It certainly makes us careful with our water use. Our ancestors must have been a hardy, strong bunch, constantly on the move, carrying shifting, tipping, scrubbing, fetching. My arms are feeling capable, my poor back is not!

Tin baths are well established now, but preparations must start early! First bring in the bath from  outside to warm and prepare the area with rugs. Then heat two hot cauldrons of water on the stove, whilst setting up the clothes drier covered with a blanket as an improvised screen for peace. Mix the hot water with two buckets of cold, rustle up a quick cup of chamomile tea, and settle in to quite a deep cosy bath. Then decide whether you have the energy to start bucketing out the water or if it can wait until the morning!

Make a hot water bottle and go to bed!

My back aches, but at least I feel responsible for dealing with our water waste and can see the consequences of where it goes and how it can be reused in future. It feels good.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Valentine's day

Huddled by the gas cooker at one end of our cabin last night, waiting for the water to heat for our hot water bottles, Hugh and I had a hasty discussion in low voices.
'God, it's Valentine's day tomorrow, have you done anything?'
'No have you?'
'Well,'.... a hesitation...'shall we just... do nothing?'
'Ok, if we both promise.'
'Cool...' we poured the hot water bottles and went to bed, but it felt wierd.

It's not that we usually indulge in lavish displays of gifts and meals out, but we usually make a card and write a poem for each other, and Hugh usually picks some flowers and I might buy some little edible treat to share in the evening. A tangible reminder of our love and appreciation of each other in the midst of the turmoil and rush that our lives can sometimes be. Cutting through the hasty communication and barbed retorts, the rumbling resentments and sniping that it is so easy to fall into, despite our best love and intentions; the Valentines day poem never fails to reach the beautiful core of why we are together, and warms the cold February morning.

I put aside the futile and petty moans about what I think he should or shouldn't be doing and appreciate not only the practical genius of a man that has, after all, almost singlehandedly built our home, but the understanding , encouragement and acceptance he extends to me.
 The man who reminds me, even though its really up to me to organise, that I need to take some time to myself, and look after myself..(my back, my sleep deprivation, need for solitude)
The man who accepted me and two children who weren't his and happily loved them as his own and then loved the two that we produced too! And who lightens a tense moment with craziness and laughter.
The man who has brought so much wisdom and love into our family and works with me as we guide the children through the maze of our life together.
The man who slows down when I speed up to remind me that really, is it that important? (yeah I admit this one is challenging!!)
The man who quietly carries out a myriad of practical chores evey day which easily become invisible until he goes away for a few days...
The man who breaks the rules and breaks out of the constraints of duty and 'shoulds' because that's where the gold is.
The man who loves me...

But now we've agreed....we've just moved, we're still struggling with water and toilet issues and a multitude of practical  (more on this next post Laurel, promise) we're both really busy, do we really have time to create beautiful poetry  before bed?

So we woke up today in a very ordinary way, and I came to town to write in a cafe where there is power, and I suddenly realise that Valentine's day is tomorrow! We got the day wrong! It's not today.
Now what?
Better get writing.......

Friday, 10 February 2012

Outside again

Suddenly we're spending time outside again. After our three months in a house, where I would sometimes find that days had passed almost entirely inside, now, our life is connected inextricably to the wood around us. Our time in the cabin is made complete by the time slithering down muddy paths to the compost toilet at night; by stepping outside in the morning to the frozen, rosy dawn beyond the trees and over the hills; by nipping to the woodstack for an armful of logs for the burner. Last night as I grabbed the nearest  blanket to wrap around me, shawl like, to accompany Tansy on a  night time loo trip, I felt as if I was stepping further into the past with each step along the path.

 The memory and spirit of the women who came before me, my ancestors; stepping out on their night time winter paths, holding their lanterns before them, stumbling through their woollen petticoats and shawls, feeling the cold on their skin, the mist on their cheeks, the cry of the owl in their ear . I felt so close to them, and a tiny glimpse of what it was like to live away from the slick, quick, glossed over shininess of the 21st century. I have read and absorbed countless stories and histories of domestic realities in previous centuries but it is only in living it again that I feel it in my body, the reality of it. The relentless practical tasks and the raw chapped hands, the living close to the bone. Our neighbours who live in two beautiful yurts, expressed just what I felt. 'Living like this you experience the real highs and the real lows, you don't get the dull daily hum drum of mediocrity' It's either spellbindingly beautiful or really quite desperate!

When I was carrying all our water into the house in 19 litre containers, and scrimping every drop, it was a challenge, especially on my back, (lugging it down my friends stairs after filling up in her bathroom, thanks Darcy and Becky!) but it made every drop precious. I found myself gloating when discovered three full hot water bottles in our cupboard, what could I use the water for? This morning the tap produced water, as we have a milder day, and it felt quite decadant to just use what ever we needed!

Friday, 3 February 2012

Seven white doves

There was a beautiful moment yesterday. In the middle of my third day clearing and cleaning the house where we have spent the last couple of months, and feeling thoroughly disheartened by the amount of dirt and stuff to deal with, I heard the thud of a package on the doormat. Expecting it to be for the new tenant moving in, whose mail has already started to arrive, I trudged gloomily out to the hall to retrieve it, cleaning rag in hand. It was a package from the US for me! A beautiful packet all wrapped in tissue paper and little hearts, containing seven white paper doves.

A while ago, I admired a little bird mobile over at We Bloom Here and mentioned how I would love to make one, but didn't have time as I was moving house, and the lovely M. Bloom offered to send me one. In the course of messaging her, I told her that we had released seven white doves at Lily's funeral, one for every year of her life. And so there in the middle of my dismal morning, surrounded by mops and dust, out tumbled a dove mobile and lifted my day. Sprinkled with tears it was admired and hung up in OUR NEW HOME yesterday evening. A truely magical moment. Thankyou so much to such a lovely woman so far away.

Oh yes, I forgot to mention, we have now moved into our very own cabin in the woods, it's warm, tranquil, cosy and such a sanctuary...more next time!