An Alternative Christmas

Bealtaine Cottage permaculture porch

The frost has settled on the ground all around the cottage.

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture GardenThe land looks very much like a Christmas card, with frost sparkling in the early morning sun.

Bealtaine Cottage Midwinter GardenThere is something so captivating about the light at midwinter…it really is quite magical!

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture Garden at MidwinterThe sad thing is that much of the magic has disappeared from Christmas.

This special time has become so very commercialised, that it seems near impossible to avoid the frenzy that is now Christmas!

However, in recent years I have attempted to do just that, and this year I feel comfortable with my own very special take on the festivities.

I am a baby vegan…just starting this wonderful journey.

Previous to that I was a vegetarian, so meat has been off the menu for some time now.

This dietary choice takes me out of one Christmas loop.

So, instead of a massive dinner that used to leave me wedged onto a sofa for most of the evening, stomach heavy with over-indulging, I cook up an absolute feast of dishes that serve as a dinner and evening buffet for family and friends.

Xmas eve Dec 11 001As it is a special feast, all who attend bring a special dish of food, so the term feast is justly applied.

Gifts are exchanged, but they are special, hand-made or locally sourced gifts.

This year I have made each family member an album of photographs of special memories.

A painting of a beloved pet was commissioned for another dinner guest.

An Irish woollen scarf has been knitted for another…and so on.

September 2011 Permaculture Cottage 010There are lots of home made wines and liqueurs, all made from fruit and flowers grown here at Bealtaine and none of which will cause a hangover!

Games are played…most of which end in silliness!

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture stoveAs there is no television we talk…something that the television usually does for us!

In the afternoon we all go for a walk in the woods down near Lough Key…usually with no-one else around.

“Who shall describe the inexpressible tenderness and immortal life of the grim forest, where Nature, though it be midwinter, is ever in her spring, where the moss-grown and decaying trees are not old, but seem to enjoy a perpetual youth.” ~Henry David Thoreau

At this special time of year, in the deep midwinter, there is beauty and joy and friendship.

Money cannot purchase any of these gifts.

Permaculture Cottage ~ The Thursday Photo-Diary

A Celtic emblem on my back door. The paint on the door is well scratched and there is a definite patina of life therein. Dogs and children, all attempting to enter the cottage with little patience and no time to wait! I know I have to paint it soon, because the weather demands it, but then this testament to life and laughter and fun and games will be erased…

Moving the tyres in the vegetable garden is a milestone reached this week…converting all to log, deep beds and narrow paths…easier to mulch and now that the soil has improved, I can do this. It has taken 7 years of work and patience, but it has finally paid off!

Apples continue to swell and grow and are, each one, quite perfect. These trees have never had any sprays or chemicals of any kind at all, yet continue to give perfect harvest every single year. Nature knows best!

The beautiful flowers of the remarkable Comfrey plant. This generous herb is not just a pretty face!

Look how well this tiny spider manages to camouflage itself on the Cotoneaster bush…Nature is so very clever!

Flowers have opened on the Fuschia…almost an adopted native plant here in the west of Ireland…