We have a large number of tall swaying black poplars that perch on the hill peering over the primary garden. They grow fast and are weak and, unlike oaks or pines, will not stand for a hundred years. If we don’t cut them now, or in the next few years, they may fall where the wind and elements decide to lay them, destroying the terraces and gardens beneath them.
In addition to those facts, it is impossible to evade surrender to the primitive and child-like urge to play the lumberjack. So, eschewing chainsaws, we sharpened our felling axe and manned the two-person saw to bring down these mighty crowns. After the stun of the massive all-attention-commanding crack echoing down through the valley and the steady fall and catastrophic crash of each tree we’re compelled to stand staring at the hole in amazed silence. Each tree down changes the place entirely as if a stage curtain has lifted, revealing a new layer to our stepped hillside.
This place is dangerous; it doesn’t leave things unchanged. And once change begins it doesn’t stop, for your next move takes place in a new, unforeseen, landscape. The magic view into a secret world that we first hacked our way into less than a year ago is long gone. The wildness that had crept in gets pushed back again for gardens and irrigation once more.
The designs for the garden will never be truly finished but are in a state for action. Much of the trunks, chopped limbs and snedded branches off our felled trees will be lined up in trenches and piled over with soil and seed to form the foundation for our high beds inspired by Sepp Holzer. These should change the flow of frost from above and take full advantage of our south facing slope by increasing the amount of surface growing space. We are mid-battle now with the winter pruning. Having uncovered bramble choked trees that had grown in mangled and distorted directions we are now slimming down our fruit trees and preparing them for spring growth. Many of the apple, peach, cherry, walnut and chestnut trees we’re treating are ones we didn’t even yet know we had! Hopefully we can set them up for long productive lives.
The landscape is not the only stage for this place’s change. The two of us build on again by ourselves as Andru’s brother is now back in England and his mum explores life in the south of Spain. Our cats have grown into killers. We made a frenzied drive to Cataluña, driving up to the border of France, to pack a six meter yurt into our poor little Rocinante. We drove back all night for twenty hours with crossed fingers hoping that the police could not see our dangerously loaded car in the dark stopping only occasionally to claw the night’s ice off the yak’s wool. We hurried home to Unnarr and to finish constructing the wooden platform and floor for the yurt. We have spent much of January preparing spaces for humans and can now present exciting and comfortable shelters for guests. This piece of land now holds two yurts (one Mongolian, one English), and a cottage bed-room. Our friend Eythor stopped by briefly to give our new luxurious, if still somewhat cold (thanks to a sudden siberian wind), guest accommodation a try. The posh toilet bench is still outside; we aim to rectify that soon.
As we settle into this region and become more comfortable with the language we’ve set our eyes on political projects. The German directed government of Greece and the Brussels installed technocrat in Italy have shown Europe the limits of democracy the powerful will allow. The only solution is grass-roots organising of society from the bottom-up and if we wish to evade eventual a capitalist technocratic dictatorship here too organising must begin now. We look forward to posting soon on some exciting projects looming.