If you’d have asked me this day last year what I would be doing today, the answer was simple. I would have been living with Thomas on the campsite in Retz. I would have been looking for more ways for me to get a visa to be with my love. Spending my days with his family, having bbq’s, walking around his property, helping with preparing for the fall by cutting wood. I would have been happy. When our relationship ended 7 months ago, I didn’t even think about this summer or what I would do for 2 1/2 months while school was out. I was top busy focusing on work, determined that my coming to Albania was going to help me pursue my career, even if that didn’t end with me teaching in Austria. But I do believe that everything, and everyone, happens for a reason. In the midst of that heartbreak, I was hosting a surfer from the carolinas named Katherine. She told me about a program called wwoofers and how she volunteered in Ireland on an organic farm. The seed (hahaha) was planted at that point. This was a way for me to be productive, learn something new, and still be able to travel. It would also give me the added bonus of “living” in Ireland, and find out if I could call this place home.
My life is in a turning point. I love traveling and exploring the world and the past 5 years of bouncing around have been truly life altering. However, I am not the same person that I was after my divorce. I am not running away from something anymore. I want to run towards something. I’m ready to find that place that makes sense, the puzzle piece that tells me this is where I should plant my roots. I will still travel, explore, investigate, and work for understanding of others. I just want a permanent home to do it from in the meantime. I want to raise a family, even if it is just me and my child. So I will travel now not only for adventure, but with a new filter. Can I live here and be happy for an extended period of time? Would I be happy raising my child here? Is it easy enough for us to leave and explore other places in summer and on holidays?
I love Albania, the people are kind hearted and the country is beautiful. I can see myself loving my time there, gaining wonderful memories over the next several years, and leaving with a piece of Albania in my heart. However, I also know Albania will not be my forever home. Culturally, we are very different and some of these differences will prevent me from becoming permanently based there.
Anyways, back to my summer. I am volunteering for a lovely couple, Cliona and Conor Dooge. They won their property at auction back in 2000 and moved into a property that was overgrown, wild, and teeming with potential. It consists of their main house called the rectory, named after the fact that it was the home of the local rector from the village church. It has a little creek running through the property and has “the island”, a large field completely surrounded by ponds, with lily pads, or the creek with access from the house with a cute little red bridge.
Now to the gardens, where my fun begins. They have a poly tunnel where grow their herbs and small veggies. Around the corner from this, they have their raised beds. Currently, these beds are being used to make compost. They have a walled garden that is filled with various fruit bushes and trees. Here, Cliona grows apples, black currants, raspberries,figs, st. John’s wort, sweet pea, mint, gooseberries, lettuces, horseradish, ajd multitudes of roses. Spread throughout the rest of the property you will see many flower beds that are all also organic.
My day consists of weeding the beds, mulching, harvesting fruit, playing and feeding her 2 adorable pups, Sky; a German Shepard, and Scout, a collie mix. I also take care of her 5 hens. If she still had pigs, I would also take of them, but her last sow passed 2 years ago.
The work is hard and I can feel my muscles working all day. I am loving being outside all day, and knowing I am helping things to grow is a wonderful experience. When I am digging or pulling, my minds quiets and I feel so at peace. This feeling is rarely interrupted, unless Sky jumps on me to play through out the day. Hahahaha. I am letting go of the things in my life, like my relationship, that I no longer have control over. I am weeding these parts of my life, just like the dandelion that threatens to take over a garden. Then comes the pruning, the removal of the unneeded. With this, the roses are able to bloom beautifully when they are ready. I know that now I am in right in the middle of this in my current life….a kind of maintenance phase. But when the new buds bloom, they will grow tall, be healthy and bloom into something truly astonishing.