The van died. Or rather I killed it, because it turned vampiric. So now it has been put to sleep in a corner of my land where the grass is growing rapidly under its wheels. It may or may not be resurrected later, but for now the van serves as a shelter, not as a vehicle, and I am once again on foot. This is hugely frustrating in many ways. The repairs wrecked my finances. It isn’t simple or quick to buy more transport here. And it’s a two hour trek down the mountain to the nearest town. I can’t bring materials up. Winter is coming, and I am a little stuck.
Yet while the road is out of bounds, my land shines. I am here where she wants me, embedding myself into this two acre tapestry of life. It’s a special time. A precious one. I sense the delicacy on the leaf backs as the sunlight caresses them. And it is now in my stationary state that I notice something exciting.
One by one, creatures are stealing out from their hiding places. My fellow land-dwellers have been observing me since the day I arrived. I heard Wren in the forest twittering about me. Robin Copper Breast hopped anxiously from fence post to rock. Lizard had one reptilian eye trained upon me from her nook in the wall. Watching. Waiting. For weeks she was no more than a tail end disappearing into a crevice.
The Slug Army, the Butterfly Brigade, Dragon Flies and Snails, all know in their own way that someone new is in town. And now, as summer curls gently into autumn, and the skies open their steamy lids to let miles of blue in, my fellow land dwellers venture forward.
It was Lizard who first made a move. One day I saw her basking on a rock in the afternoon sun. Her body was a mottled finger. Her head jerked up and down. But this time as I slid closer, she didn’t run. Nor did she flinch when I pulled out my phone to take photos. We sat together for twenty minutes or more, the beads of her eyes rolling, her tiny webbed feet clutching the rock. I don’t know how she felt about this sharing of space and time, but my heart oozed with joy.
And now, having trailed me for weeks, flying to and fro in a vain attempt to shoo me away, Robin Copper Breast has decided I am perhaps likeable. He has taken up residence in the bush next to my van. Because this strange metallic beast appears to be a good source of food, and he’s intent on owning the territory.
As I eat breakfast, door ajar, Robin flits over. He perches just in front of the opening, copper jacket lapels fluffed up, stick legs jutting out, as though I were some sort of wildlife burger van.
“I have a bright chest
so I can’t hide,
true I am small,
but have pluck on my side!” He twitters, head cocked, tiny body twitching.
Other creatures approach as I sit beneath the ash tree. Butterflies, always the first to bestow a pretty salutation, flutter in and out. Bees crawl enthusiastically over petals. Where thorns had previously scratched me, clusters of ripe blackberries now beckon. The Spiders who bit me relentlessly in the beginning, have abated. The land is awash with greens to forage: plantain, dandelion, nettle, chickweed, lambs lettuce.
If I were a faster builder, had I charged in with machines and blades, I would never seen the brave attempts of my new friends to step closer. I’d have slaughtered most of my wild food supply too. But I am slow, sometimes against my will. And this means I see things. The animals are communicating. They are curious. Who is this new human? And why is she here? Is she friend? Or foe? Can we work with her? If so how?
We are on the delicate edge of beginning. This is a precious moment. A coming together. The van can do what it likes, fate can keep throwing punches, winter can come too if he wants, because I am not alone. I am putting down roots. I am home.
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27/9/2018 06:16:23 pm
Hi Atulya, wonderfully written as always!! What did you mean by the campervan got vampiric, engine blown up or?? Bet you are preparing yourself for the winter, you know from experience that winters can be quite severe in Asturia area. How do keep yourself warm in the winter months? Woodstove, open or electrical fire? Would love to see a few more images of the cabanas, also from the inside. All the best and kind regards, Jan and Maud.
28/9/2018 12:06:42 am
Thank you Jan and Maud! Oh smoke billowing out of the exhaust, dieseling, overheating. And the MOT runs out in a week, and there's no way it's getting back to the UK. So that's that.
27/9/2018 06:25:34 pm
Lovely, just lovely. Truly an abundance of life all around. Beautiful, soul filling and somewhat serene. At least you have your van to base out of for now, working or not and certainly plenty to do. How is your little kitchen/food storage cabana coming along? I am sure you are starting to get situated for the winter to come -- we want to see you safe and warm on your land before the snow flies. As always, God Bless, Stay Safe and Take Care! Later...
28/9/2018 12:09:42 am
I don't think I'll be able to spend this winter on the land. Nothing is ready. To be honest, I didn't expect it to be. The temperature dipped below 10 a couple of nights ago, and already I'm freezing. I may have to take a break.
29/9/2018 04:23:51 am
I wondered about that, glad to hear you will be elsewhere -- I know vans do little to keep you warm in the winter sucky insulation. I imagine you will be staying with your Dad? Hang in there -- it will all eventually come together for you and will be such a wonderful place. Too bad you can't get that van back to who you bought it from and get your money back. You are in our prayers!
27/9/2018 09:19:44 pm
Thank goodness you notice your fellow land dwellers....I think that many world problems would be solved if we all realised we're not alone. We share this world with so many creatures and plants, all of whom are just waiting for us to wise up. I sympathise deeply with your transport problems Atulya....been there and never want to go there again. Sending support for your happiness. x
28/9/2018 12:11:31 am
Thanks Cath. Yes I've never know anything like it. I'm a bit traumatised by it to be honest. There hasn't been a single week since the end of July when something hasn't gone wrong on it! Over it, completely. And feel a lot better for writing it off.
28/9/2018 05:07:34 pm
28/9/2018 08:52:01 pm
So glad you added that last line Judith or I might just have blown a gasket:))) I'm going to have to write a post on these armchair suggestions. They're hilarious. If you take a look at stage 15 of the Tour d'Espana, you'll see the incline I'd have to climb. Note those nubile world class cyclists struggling to push past 4km hour up that mountain, and that's without baggage :)) Poor donkey. Poor me. And then somehow after Ned and I have reached my land, I'm supposed to still have energy to single-handedly build an off-grid world, oh and knock up a quick barn for the donkeys while I'm at it! :)) Gawd! I will admit though, I have seen many positive sides to horses and donkeys this past month. At least they cut the grass!
28/9/2018 08:33:26 pm
I saw that Eva. Thank you so much for the motivation. Your $1 was also appreciated! Your thank you is so so beautiful and just what I needed.
28/9/2018 11:32:18 pm
29/9/2018 05:42:44 am
Is there clay there to plaster the inside of your stone walls?
29/9/2018 11:33:19 am
Yes, I'm going to make an insulating plaster, and getting a stove in is not a problem. Nothing on the land is a problem. It's wonderful. It's simply transport. I'm a million miles from self sufficient at this stage. And yes I was just thinking how crap cars are for the environment, and wishing more sustainable transport would materialise.
30/9/2018 12:27:19 am
So beautifully written as always Atulya. Sounds like you are making new friends & appreciating and listening to the beauty on your land. I hope you have somewhere warm to live during the cold winter months to come.
30/9/2018 04:34:34 pm
2/11/2018 02:11:29 pm
Hiya Atulya,Where are you now?I love what you write.Really inspiring!
12/8/2019 04:38:51 am
My daughter had, and loved, a pair of Crocs that exact same color when she was younger.
13/8/2019 12:28:34 am
💚 It's a great colour:)
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Atulya K Bingham
Author, Lone Off-Gridder, and Natural Builder.
"Reality meets fantasy, myth, dirt and poetry. I'm hooked!" Jodie Harburt, Multitude of Ones.