Gather & Grow has gone nomadic again for the summer. One of the benefits of my current job is the relative freedom to do my work from more or less anywhere during the summers. So in late May, we crossed the great ocean to attend the wedding of two dear friends in the Vercors mountains of Southern France. That was the beginning of our Tour of Rustic European Locations with Family Connections. First, we spend a week at the off-grid cabin that Dan’s dad and his partner built a few years ago on the Black Sea coast in Bulgaria. We continue from there to the house in the Dolomite mountains of Northern Italy where Dan’s grandmother grew up in the 1920s and 30s. Finally, in July, we join my family at my parents’ lakeside summer cottage in Central Finland. In other words, a lot of family time, a couple of permaculture design projects, swimming and wilderness hiking, homecooked meals and no hotel stays – interspersed with some work, of course, but the views from our movable “office” will be nothing to complain about: sea, mountains, a wooded lakeside.
The house in Bulgaria, where we are staying now, is at the edge of a small village, with a view of the turquoise Black Sea. We’re separated from the seaside limestone cliffs by just 150 meter wide strip of steppe-like grasslands. It is part of a protected archaeological and ecological reserve, which means that nothing will ever be built between the cabin and the bluffs. There’s a rawness and beauty to this landscape. Tall white windmills in the horizon. Grass seeds wafting through the wind.
The grassland is dotted with bright splashes of color: wildflowers. Enormous purple thistles with blooms the size of tennis balls, bright red poppies (they grow everywhere in Bulgaria now because the Communist Party used to plant them in abundance because of their red color), yarrow in gold and white, red peony, and so many flowers whose names I don’t know. The wind from the sea carries with it the fragrance of wild herbs like chamomile and wild thyme. The flowers were the first thing I noticed, and will probably be my most distinctive memory after we’ve left.
Oh, and the climb down to the craggy, rocky beach past second- to fifth-century CE tombs and caves and a fortress dating back to the Roman times. (You can just see Dan and my father-in-law making their way down the path on the right.)
This place is, in a word, stunning. What a spot for us to be making big decisions about our future…! For that’s the kind of week it’s been. You never know what catches up with you while you are at the edge of the world.