Wind power, hot bath & a Hawthorn tree
So July was a month of moving immense amounts of rubbish from the house and from the land, a time of many contractors making good the hodgepodge of dangerous electrics, gas and water utilities in and around the property. But now the diggers have left, the grass is growing where tyre tracks once were and berries are ripening on the branches across the moor.
We can officially say that we are running from the glorious power of wind ! Not only that but we have hot (sometimes too hot !!!!) water heated by biomass pellets. So we are feeling pretty warm, clean and online. This feels so far away from the first days sleeping under two sleeping bags and a duvet whilst wearing winter hats next to the fire in the kitchen and walking around with head torches on. Cementing this moment in our minds is key to never ever taking for granted the incredible services that we have in our homes for our comfort and health. We are in the process of tracking our energy usage and working out how we can be even more efficient in the future.
Last month we also restored the old granite flag stone floors in the kitchen and hearth area which had been covered in cement and drips of paint. We also replaced terracotta tiles with new granite to match more closely to the old floor. The lime rendering in between will help the room to breathe and has really changed the space in a wonderful way. We laid a precious lapis lazuli pendant in the entrance way to bless the house and everyone who enters.
The air has got a slight bite to it now and with the ripening of the berries on the moor and the flowering of the heather I can sense that autumn is on its way. I feel compelled to make preserves, infused brandies and oxymels from the abundant produce in the hedgerows. Haw ketchup and Roman blackberry oxymel are next on my list to cook up. I am yet to find the legendary Dartmoor whortleberry but I am keeping my eyes open. Joy whips up inside me when a thick mist blankets the moor so dense that you can't see the fern in front of you. I think it is the anticipation of our first winter and the adventures that will bring us.
With the settling down of building work I have been able to spend a little more time weaving which has been a delight. I find that it makes a heck of a lot of sense to weave in this environment and I think to my scottish crofting ancestry, and the weaving women who came before me tending to their flocks and spinning up their yarns next to a fire whilst the Scottish weather beats the side of the stone house. I have recently acquired some local Dartmoor White face fleeces and I look forward to spinning this and experimenting with the local plants for some natural dying.
Our attentions are turned now towards building a kitchen and tiling and painting so we have some finished spaces to inhabit. I have never put my mark on a building having always lived in rented or council owned properties so psychologically this is a very symbolic moment . With the question of what it means to root down into a place dancing in my mind, I wash my rollers and brushes and stir a deep orange tin of paint. We have also begun to clear some of the overgrown areas where historically stone animal barns would have been. We have cleared a huge pile of blackthorn, bramble and a rather relentless honeysuckle vine. Today I gently cleared an ancient Hawthorn tree who was completely choked with honeysuckle, ferns twice the height of me and loaded bramble. For the first time in decades her trunk became visible and her branches free to reach up into the sky for sunlight. We will of course keep a dense hedgerow of bramble, blackthorn and honeysuckle present but right now it feels nice to reclaim some space from this wild, wild garden. Plus, the gardening has sent the scent of blackberry juice and honeysuckle into the air and we have enough cut plants for many vases beautiful hedgerow flowers for inside the house.
We continue to walk the land and keep our buzzard eyes open and our fox ears sharp. We continue to meet more beings who share this land with us, it's always a sublime experience to watch the young deer nibbling the hawthorn in the field or see the stoat run its fiery red body past the corner of your eye. A blue tit rather dramatically flew into our kitchen at 10.30pm a couple of nights ago to his dismay and to our puppy Marcy's delight. Blue Tit did eventually and with the coercion of a tea towel fly into the dark night and we hope is now safe and sound. I have to keep checking into my energy levels as I have now had to admit I am not as physically strong as Toby and do need rest days from physical work. We continue to try to keep the balance between day to day work and a land based meditation practice; not letting either consume the other and realising both practices are present in the other. We take a long drink of the medicine in the turning of the season, knowing that you can't rush the ripening of fruit and affirming that solid foundations of rich nutrient soil is needed to grow beautiful fruits. We try to relish this time of preparation and keep one eye on the future of what this place needs to become.