LIZ HARROD

Tis a Gift to be Simple – 10-11 March 2011

In Portugal, Travel 2011, WWOOF on March 13, 2011 at 2:39 pm

Waking up in the guest room at Stone and Roses starts with the welcome sounds of Eloise and Josh shuffling about on the top floor, hurrying to get ready for school and out the door before the bus comes.

Out the window of my door, I look over the yoga patio to the mountains across the valley, marred only by a few roads and terraces from another age. The shower next door is a tempting warm start to the cold morning but something for later, a treat earned after a productive days work. Sounds of breakfast with English tea, regularly supplied by grandparents still in England, drift up to me from the lower level of the main house; and from the window in the living room, music fills the air. This morning it’s a light acoustic version of Here Comes the Sun, the cheerful Beatles tune that matches Vonny’s desired mood for this particular morning. She is already in her gardens, dancing lightly as she ties knots to hold posts that will support her growing vegetables.

After filling our tummies with cereal, bread, cheese and a morning cup of tea, Vonny directs us all to our tasks for the day. Some days the phases of the moon bring a good environment for digging down into the soil to prepare it for planting, a task that brings comfort in the way my hands move, getting covered in the dark soil that has been carefully nurtured to the nutrient rich earth that will bring carrots, beet root and potatoes. On other days, it is a day full of energy, a day to be high on the mountain to balance our time spent in the dirt. I spend this time with Peter, a volunteer from Hungary, stripping branches from pine trees that have been cut down. The slow process of deforestation will protect this haven from the threat of forest fires as well as supply wood for fires, mulch and borders in the vegetable gardens.

It takes my body most of my first morning working to remember the movements and energy of hard physical work. My arms and hands are unsteady at best, but as time moves past at a pleasantly endless pace, I become stronger in my movements.

Each task here is seemingly endless with each day being about the process and the progress, not about reaching the end goal. Looking at the results of our labour, I can’t help but feel a bit of pride in the small differences we’ve made, and looking down at the three beautiful houses surrounded by carefully cared for vegetable patches and terraces, I can’t imagine the sense of accomplishment and contentment the Winter family must feel.

To live a life, raise a family and build a community in such a simple environment, an environment that gives back based on the hard work you put in, is such a beautiful gift, a gift that the family here is lucky to have, and a gift that I could not be more thankful that they are happy to share.

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