Posted in celebrations, Christmas, Cottage, Country Living, Family, Food, Garden, Inspiration, Ireland, Life, Permaculture, Thoughts, Thrift, Vegan, Vegetarian, Winter, Woodland

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.

Posted in Abundance, Angels, Bealtaine Cottage, Country Living, Eco-Living, Food, Frugal Living, Gardening, Growing Food, Inspiration, Permaculture, Self-Sufficiency, Smallholding, Spirituality, Thoughts, Thrift

The Happiness of not Having Things

Apple Jelly made from apples grown and harvested here at Bealtaine Cottage Smallholding

This will keep well for years if stored in a cool pantry and can be used in baking and cooking and makes a wonderful sweet and sour sauce!

August 2011 Permaculture Cottage 003

“Frugality is one of the most beautiful and joyful words in the English language,
and yet one that we are culturally cut off from understanding and enjoying. 

Upcycled water taps at Bealtaine Cottage

The
consumption society has made us feel that happiness lies in having things, and
has failed to teach us the happiness of not having things.”

 ~Elise Boulding

And so, tied down with the complex consumerism of life, we don’t get time to see and appreciate the simple frost on leaves, or deeply inhale the clear, morning air…

Bealtaine permaculture cottage 005Everything we possess that is not necessary for life or happiness becomes a
burden,

and scarcely a day passes that we do not add to it.

~Robert Brault

Quality does not lie in quantity, but in something that is unique…and the most unigue is made by oneself, for sure.

August 2011 permaculture Cottage 007

Maybe a person’s time would be as well spent raising food as raising money to
buy food.

~Frank A. Clark
Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture

“The best things in life are nearest:  Breath in your nostrils, light in your
eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before
you.

stained glass wheel of life at bealtaine Cottage permaculture gardens

Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life’s plain, common work as it
comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in
life.

~Robert Louis Stevenson

Aug 2011 Permaculture Cottage 016

As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude
will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.
~Henry David Thoreau

permaculture cottage Aug 2011 023

I like to walk about among the beautiful things that adorn the world; but
private wealth I should decline, or any sort of personal possessions, because
they would take away my liberty.

~George Santayana

August 2011 permaculture cottage 003

Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be
beautiful.

~William Morris

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Posted in Country Living, Earth, Ecology, Gaia, Garden, Gardening, Ireland, Permaculture, Spirituality, Thoughts, Trees, Uncategorized, Woodland

A Life in the Country ~ Tree Spirits

If …
a man walks in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of
being regarded as a loafer. 

But …

if he spends his days as a speculator, shearing
off those woods and making the earth bald before her time, he is deemed an
industrious and enterprising citizen.  ~Henry David Thoreau

Life’s funny like that!

Have we got it all mixed up then?

You can live for years next door to a big pine tree, honored to have so
venerable a neighbour, even when it sheds needles all over your flowers or wakes
you, dropping big cones onto your deck at still of night.  ~Denise Levertov

I believe that each tree has a spirit…one that is unique to that tree. Planting trees is one of the most joyful ways of connecting to the great divine spirit. In a country that is one of the most deforested in Europe, planting a tree is an act of environmental conservation equal to none!

We have a future…possibly…and only with the help of trees…

God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and
a thousand tempests and floods.  But he cannot save them from fools.  ~John
Muir

Unfortunately, it is a fact that most people will cut down trees if it is to their own advantage. it is also a fact that most people are frightened of  because trees are beyond their control. How do I know this? Look around you!

A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving,
swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship.  But
though to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease. 
Every hidden cell is throbbing with music and life, every fiber thrilling like
harp strings, while incense is ever flowing from the balsam bells and leaves. 
No wonder the hills and groves were God’s first temples, and the more they are
cut down and hewn into cathedrals and churches, the farther off and dimmer seems
the Lord himself.  ~John Muir

Even as a dead tree, lying on it’s side as it decays back into the beautiful Earth, this tree holds pools of water and life…could anything so exquisite be made by the hand of man?

No town can fail of beauty, though its walks were gutters and its houses hovels,
if venerable trees make magnificent colonnades along its streets.  ~Henry Ward
Beecher, Proverbs, 1887