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– Pace, perfect pace

March 22, 2012

When we lived in Portugal we rented a little house and our nearest neighbours worked the land which surrounded us.  Agosto was in his early seventies and Maria late sixties, and every day they were out there working.  This was our first encounter with anyone who grew food, both for themselves and to sell at the local market, and a climate where it was possible to grow not only lots of different things but all year round.

It wasn’t just the variety and volume of what they produced that amazed us, but how they went about it.  No big performance, no puffing and panting, no drama.  Just going at a steady rate,  like they had something like an innate timetable they were working to.  Sometimes Maria talked about the full moon, or particular celebrations on the calendar like Easter or Christmas, which she said were indicators of when she could plant certain things or when they would likely be ready to harvest.  But really those things weren’t that significant, Maria talked of them more as if she was trying to justify why she had decided to plant something when she had.  Meanwhile the planting, weeding, hoeing, and preparing beds continued every day, it was the backdrop to everyday life.

I’ve admired that rhythm ever since.  Maria and Agosto attending to the important things, and not just growing fruit and vegetables, but making bread in the wood oven, cutting firewood, picking and bottling olives, harvesting the grapes to make wine.  This was their life, centred around their home and its land.  Maybe, after a period of tuning in, we’ll become like them, connecting to what our land tells us and gradually understanding what we need to do in order to provide for ourselves.

This feeling is really strong.  It’s like that theory, the one about us having forgotten how and why we came to be here.  Apparently it’s all there in our DNA or somewhere but we have buried it, and in the process become disconnected from our real purpose our connection to the natural world.  Now being here and having had the Agosto and Maria experience perhaps we’re on our way back at long last to rediscovering it.  Maybe it’s what I was talking about before, not just a magnetic link but finding the key.  Anyway, the right time, right place, rhythm, something seems to be working and making sense.

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