CHAPTER IV – PATIENCE

The forest, when bare, reveals all.

A few days ago, we discovered, leaning over the parapet of our terrace, that there is a log cabin, oozing fairy tale vibes, on a clean strip of mowed hillside below. Someone had lit a huge bonfire in the fire pit that day; an ancient gathering call to come feast and pray.

We haven’t yet figured out how to access that part of the forest due to the fact that the undergrowth swallows up an infinity of roads, therefore requiring dedicated exploration of its depths that we just haven’t had time to do yet. Now that you can see through the naked or just beginning to bud branches of the forest, a crazy tangled serpentine of gravel and dirt roads is visible cutting across the valley floor.

All of nature is patiently awaiting the return of Spring. We have had a few false alarms; soft and warm mother of pearl days followed by mean dark wintry days.

As of late there has been a general malaise hanging over the valley. General uncertainty and anxiety has penetrated cities and towns and their inhabitants. People have become less spontaneous in their gestures and conversations. There is a nervous energy that lingers long after a word has been spoken or a decision taken. World events have taken their toll on mind body and soul.

Most shops no longer carry stock, making it necessary to place orders and wait rather than purchase outright. In fact, waiting times range anywhere between two months to 1 year depending on the item in question. Material costs have tripled, which means certain projects will need to be put on hold. Many empty buildings flank the once buzzing industrial zone of the area. And several landmark shops have had to close their doors after five generations of business.

This further setback, although disappointing, isn’t massively important in the greater scheme of world events. Everything will fall into place soon enough. Even with specific projects on hold there is still a tonne of work to be done, so we have at it!

We took on this build and renovation project with a philosophy to not annihilate but integrate, not destroy but improve. We kept the original building, upgrading and updating it. We made structural changes for safety purposes (being an earthquake prone zone) and eliminated all toxic materials. We didn’t interfere with or destroy any of the surrounding landscape, having consciously maintained the same square meters occupied by the original property in a decision to build upwards instead of outwards.

We are dedicating today to tiling the laundry room floor. Although not the sexiest room in the house, I am actually thrilled to have this large space that will act as laundry room, potting shed and craft room. I envision my future self steaming and starching linens for formal dinners and bedding for guests, or arranging vases for Christmas with natural trimmings foraged from the surrounding hills and valley.

This room, as all the rooms, has an epic view, scoring it bonus points. And once the rosemary and lavender topiary are in situ along the walkway outside, we will be provided with nature’s aromatherapy during the warmer months when windows and doors are flung open.

Our initial fascination and adoration of this spot, going on seven years now, still stands, minus the original naiveté.

Nowadays, the laying of a carpet, the hanging of artwork, the reupholstering of chairs and pillows brings such personal satisfaction for it is one more step towards getting there, after years spent focused solely on the skeleton, foundation and multi layered structure of the building.

Though…you never really finalize a home, do you? You live in it and interact with it, making adjustments as you go. It’s this permanent condition of impermanence that I love most.

Even though it is April, the mountain range is covered in snow. The winds are chill in the morning and night, but during the afternoon, kissed by the sun, we remain optimistic that warmer days may be just around the corner. Days of barbecues and bike rides, gardening and exploring are on their way.

And so, along with the plants and wildlife, we expectantly wait.

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