It finally happened. I changed my life. I travelled far and long, across oceans with high seas and killer waves onto new lands and across mountains and rutty tracks to eventually find paradise and become the English Hillbilly of Portugal. All I need now is a still to produce Moonshine, a clay pipe and dirty shaggy dogs, not to mention a toothless partner as a last attempt to stimulate and excite the dangling organ of pleasure. Hillbilly! It’s fabulous, and I enjoy every back breaking moment, and the new challenges unleashed on an almost daily basis.
The challenges encourage the mind into its creative mode to enable one to solve the next necessary seemingly mighty job thrust within my path of progress. Creativity is required in dealing with the sneaky snorting night visits of the yet to be eaten wild boar, whose sole purpose in life, is to create turmoil in one’s cherished garden in their scavenge for calories to enter at one end and ooze out the other as compost of the future otherwise know as shit. Their visit again raises the question on how to deal with these meaty tasty creatures in a cost effective way and do so, without a heat sensing machine gun or a ten thousand volt electric fence to instantly create barbecued pork on the bone. Perhaps, I require the services of some distant tribe equipped with their hunting spears and knowledge of entrapment and execution.
There is more. The storage of beautiful trees which once adorned the land now felled and lifeless to comply with necessary laws of this fire struck land. Tree trunks now cut to usable lengths for the purpose of providing heat for future bitterly cold nights high in the hills of glorious Portugal.
The challenges imposed here are great if only to home the multi ‘life ringed’ lengths of wood. Their wounds and chainsaw cuts revealing much. They tell a story of not only age, but of weather conditions to include drought and rains. Life rings that are not only circular but oval and often of other beautiful mind puzzling curvatures telling a life’s almost complete story of each and every tree. The story from their beginnings of how they coped with wind, stress, strain and injury.
The problem remains, where to put the wood? There is a solution, there is a place, a home to reside until its final journey to the fireplace to provide heat that dissolves to smoke and so dissipates into the atmosphere and create population where the trees again, shall attempt to cleanse the air of impurities and so permit life to continue upon our glorious planet.
For me, there is such a lengthy story unfolding here, even if just in the storage of wood. It cannot truly be understood and appreciated by others unless experienced first hand. It tells of the past and what previous owners possessed and what they valued. It also reveals to a great extent how they lived and much, much more. I can imagine so easily the works involved in the growing of crops just through the tools I see, and move from A to B before points C and D and then back to B again. I can imagine the conversations and visualise the crushing of grapes in that area which still remains intact. In my mind I can also picture past joys and parties that would have been experienced between united neighbours in these one time dynamic and highly productive hamlets that are now dying in the wake of so called progress.
The relationship between myself and the previous owner was simple. It was a relationship of nothing more than buyer meets property seller. And yet, for me, it has resulted into something far more. The vendor was widowed, and I think of her with a degree of fondness for various reasons, and from time to time, thoughts of her unseen husband cross my mind also. It saddened me a little because I know that much of what I touch has not been held by hand since well before the husband died. I am so aware that I touch the one time property of a dead man. It reminds one that life is so very short, and that we should savour the brief time of living, for we only receive the one opportunity of such a gift.
When clearing areas here, I curse on occasions at what I consider rubbish, but would have been of value to those of the past. That is the truth of the matter. At the same time, I feel privileged to be in possession of what remains and in actual fact, provides almost everything I need to live a simple life as I desire. Much of it has a use, and it is only for me to learn the old ways, and become more imaginative and creative and discover what such items could be used for. There are many uses for so much, and not just the initial intention. It is all too easy to feel we can live in a disposable society, and not appreciate what we have however old it may be.
Yes I feel like a Hillbilly clearing an old wine making area for the storage of wood. When I first came here, it was an area totally cluttered and has remained so for much of the time. Now clearing the space reveals yet another story that somehow becomes so therapeutic and results in another day of total satisfaction. I look around me and see the clutter and chaos the past presents, but it matters little because, I feel more alive now than ever before. Such, compels me to share such beautiful emotions here, derived from simple things. But sharing by written word provides something else. It permits me to truly reflect on what I’m doing minute by minute as I compose the text, and therefore, absorb completely what I have, and the overwhelming happiness I eventually found.