News from Pippa

Tonight is the first night I have lit my wood burning stove. There has been frost every night recently, but it hasn’t yet dropped below -3 degrees. These crunchy nights with brilliant night skies are followed by lovely warm crisp days.

Lockdown in this healing valley is far easier than in any more densely populated places, I’m sure. We are lucky that the NW province has not been too badly affected. On occasional shopping and essential banking trips to Zeerust, we have observed all rules as we join queues. Life on site is far easier.

Site Activities

The Main Site is dormant, but needed food is produced in the kitchen each week day, and autumn garden work and maintenance carry on at a slower pace. However, there is more activity at the Training Centre.

New herb garden

On the Permaculture Demonstration Site volunteers Tereza and Mac have been gaining practical knowledge, mainly from Thabo. Autumn is a time for making compost, harvesting, drying herbs, planting the little which can grow in our cold winters, and covering mother earth with protective mulch after weeding. Mac, a doctor with a strong interest in alternative medicine and Tereza are both very interested in herbs. Mac’s focus is from the medicinal side and Tereza both cooks and concocts many herbal drinks. Having them here has been mutually beneficial. We wish them well in their endeavours to remain with us for longer.

All of us are benefitting from the well-stocked library and teaching videos, and I am personally enjoying revisiting old training materials with the others.  The team gather each Monday morning to plan the week, and three times a week we share teaching materials.

Community Activities

Tirisano Creche water tank

Tirisano crèche is not currently operating, and a possible feeding assistance scheme hasn’t yet started, so I have had little input in Rietvaly other than to buy and deliver a water tank for the crèche which has been installed by volunteers from the community. This will make functioning far easier once the crèche reopens.

Power House community activities have been carrying on in whatever ways possible. Volunteer Mokgadi has been welcomed into their activities and contributed her many skills. I have enjoyed offering a few sessions of mindful movement and a guided walk for their participants. More of my time has been spent on renovations of the future Power House, which will continue for as long as funds last.

Maintenance Work

Repairs to the office roof

Supervision of other maintenance work has been my remit, with its challenges of getting materials. Elias and Bernard are still at TRC, having been stuck here for far longer than their intended 3 weeks. Their skills are being put to good use on our many leaking roofs and ceilings. This has included work on the Octagon, Main House, Trish’s accommodation, the Power House, and currently the old office block roof. It is a joy to me to see skilled work after all our years of patching. Dave who initiated their being here is still grounded in retreat in Nepal, and they are grounded here, so will continue to work until borders reopen.

The Lemon Tree

The main site lemon tree has for the first time ever produced lemons. I counted over fifty today. The tree holds many memories for me. It was a pathetic stunted little bush when I first visited at the end of 2001. When I asked Michele, the previous owner about it, she said it was there when she bought the place. It must have been many years old, and clearly unhappy. I put some energy into trying to make it happier, and each year Rob Nairn nurtured it during his annual November/December retreats. It would grow a few inches and gain a few leaves each year, but shrink back each cold winter.

During one of our earlier Permaculture weekends, held on the main site, Alhyrian Laue, suggested we construct a rock heat trap around its base. We scouted the hill for suitable rocks and put them in place. The next year it grew a little higher and stronger and was not hit back as badly during the winter. It is now almost 2 meters high and a dense bush rather than a conventional looking lemon tree. I was delighted to see blossoms on it last year but had few hopes of ever seeing fruit, and to my amazement last week I noticed the abundant crop.

Another more recent memory was last year during the retreat with Donal when it became a very happy unusual Christmas tree. This was inspired by Joanna from London in a creative Christmas mood. She set up a DIY table full of bits and pieces from our Therapy creative boxes to make decorations, and inspired most to add their constructed pieces.

Who knows what this Christmas will bring to TRC, as we are all made to live in the present moment.