The Study of Home part 1

I don’t know if I’ve got a lot to post about but I’m feeling writey at the moment.
We’re near Salema, Portugal. The sun is shining and it’s raining. Palms are rustling like a creek and I smell the freshly turned soil as it absorbs the cool rain. Amazing that it’s winter here. image

In May 2012, I left my university with no plans to practice Landscape anything, even though I spent five years working at a degree in the archictecture of. I interned at a firm in Thailand during my fourth year which gave me a distinct and influencial impression of what working in the landscape archicture professional field is like. When the four month program finished and I returned home, no part of me wanted to continue my education. But, like many sons of close families, I listened more to my parents’ desires for me that my own desires.
So I did finish and when I reflect I realize that my first and final years of the program were the most influencial and enjoyable.
With my first year I had my mind opened to the field and the fact that there was even such a thing as sustainability and environmental design. It blew my mind open. The two years that followed were a gradual and definite decline in interest.
But my last year I rediscovered that proximity mine that initially blew my mind. I think it’s because I indeed got back to the source. The first year was mostly theory and a little practice. In that theory, and thanks to a few good profesors, I saw a world changing work. And my last year I saw ways it could really happen. Two things happen:
1. I encountered a new professor
2. I was given freedom by other professors
With my new aquaintence I learned how landscape architecture wasn’t just slope, plants, construction materials, urban planning, completeness of projects, long hours debating short details, and grades. I saw that it was home design. That everyone deserved the chance to benefit from the knowledge of how important human interaction with nature is. And that we can create little worlds where we draw most of our home experiences. When a garden is no longer just a garden, but a place you put your time and energy so that it reaps rewards for you and saves you time and money so that you might have more of the two for the things you really care about. There was suddenly this option that I didn’t have to sit at a desk for 9 hours a day 5 days a week and have only my weekends outdoors and being active. I was learning that there were many others in the world who needed a home they could have real home experiences in and that might somehow give them a little more time to enjoy their families and passions.
I can’t give too many details, it would only make this entry longer and less clear, I think.

Back to the present: I’m in Portugal.

This is a place where Rosalind not only lives with her two daughters and their wonderful cat Puskins, but it is also her main source of income. Without detailed description, this is a summer rental. They move into a small yurt with an outdoor kitchen and compost loo during the summer and rent the house to retreat groups. And how this must be such a vacation for the busy body city dwellers who come.

So she needs this place to be where most of her work energy goes. She teaches at her daughters’ primary school and loves to spend time with them. This is where us workawayers come in. We do the cooking and cleaning and do any home improvements she dreams up for about 4 hours a day, 5 days a week.

Baked duck dinner

And we are given quiet freedoms.

Like walking to the beach to catch the sunrise

We are beautifying the spaces around her home where the retreaters spend a lot of their time.

Freshly tilled and planted, all with hand tools.

We are also making this a more complete home.

Wonderfully productive gallenas

Home: a place one dwells and thrives; a shelther; the place one comes back to after being out in the world.

Plants ready for relocation

Her garden was the first place I wanted to address. Yes the planting beds around the front porch are important, as they probably enhance the experience here, the relaxing atmosphere. The path to the yoga platform and it’s immediate surroundings–certainly important since it’s used almost daily in the summer. But, to me, Rosalind and her girls deserve a good garden. They deserve to harvest their own energy from their land and see how the earth provides for them if they give it some attention.

A little attention did this space some good.

It’s balancing out, our time spent working on Rosalinds home and Rosalind’s guests. But it’s comning along very nicely.

Puskins and Kenny

I’m probably one of the many 20 something’s who just isn’t quite sure. I not only worked at a landscape architecture firm and found it unsatisfying, I haven’t quite settled into this working world at all. I worked at an architecture firm in Memphis, TN that specialized in hotel design. I’ve traveled and worked out west; in Utah, Wyoming (twice), Yellowstone National Park, Colorado, I’ve become a certified EMT and interviewed with a fire department. But now I’m in Portugal exchanging work for food and shelter.

And walking, lots of walking.

The point is I don’t know what I’ll do for the rest of my life.
I’m not just drifting, I have ideas. But nothing has convinced me so much as being away from home.
Home: shelter, both physical and emotional, from the elements of the world; the place you come back to.
I am, afterall, a homebody. Family has just scoffed at reading this but I think I can swear that I am indeed a man who needs his home. I am not a permanent rambler, I’m not Columbus, seeking a distant fortune or secret. I know the secret and it lies back in the good ol’ USA.
I’m living in someone’s home, helping them make it more of one. And it drives my thoughts to a place that hasn’t come about yet. It’s my home. It’s a place I can come back to.
The only way I know how to come to that home is to keep walking straight on the path. It certainly has shown me what is important so I’m trusting it will eventually show me where that importanace lies on the map.
I’m in Portugal for now. I’m not spending much money (in fact I’d be happy to share with anyone how cheap this traveling thing actually is, email me if you’re interested at whearnzerosixtwofouratgmail) and that is good because a place is defined as space and space, in this dimension and especially in America, is land and land cost money. I have been saving money for four years or so to travel and I’ve learned that traveling doesn’t cost 1/4 of what I thought, which is a nice fourth quarter discovery.
I’m not going to rush home to search for a piece of land but I do put in my hours looking over real estate prices and general contracting codes and methodology (in fact, klnapper is doing most of the studing for me, I just pick his brain a few times a week after he’s read his manuals), something I find myself doing, not something I think I should be doing.
What’s next? I don’t really know, probably east through Portugal, back into Spain, maybe across the Mediterranean into Moracco, maybe up into Italy or Croatia. Doesn’t really matter. I’ve got projects and a temporary home and a keyboard and a cup of coffee.

I’ve got a loving, supporting family in Mississippi (and Florida, and Utah, and Tennessee) and the amazing technology of WiFi that allows me to talk to them. I’ve got legs that work, a healing body, and a clear mind, which is more than I’ve ever had. I’m so incredibly grateful for what I’ve been given. Jesus was being The Dude when he said:
“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” 2 Corithians 9:6

So don’t just count your blessings, experience them.

If you’ve got something you’re grateful for or know a bit about home, drop me a line in the comments or at my email.

Hope everyones winter is passing beautifully. The days are getting longer, ever since December 21st. If you’re not grateful for that, you must be in the southern hemisphere.



3 thoughts on “The Study of Home part 1

  1. I so enjoyed this entry. Proud of you for getting something so important out of your degree that some aren’t as fortunate to discover, and making your traveling such a priority in order to learn so much. Loved your take on “home” and can relate and dream of that too 🙂
    Keep the beautiful words coming!
    Sending you so much love,


  2. I am so happy you are gaining so much insight from this adventure! Life is an awesome adventure that God has allowed us to experience! Enjoy this whole new environment and reap the benefits that most don’t get the pleasure of doing! I love you and miss you and I’m so proud of you! (This is an excellent addition to your blog! So much fun reading)😘


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