Las Fiestas de Yule

It’s almost the end of the year.

As I write this the full moon peeks through the leafless trees.

Hazel shoots are bare, brown leaves scatter the ground underfoot and small rivers run through the forest caminos.

We’re burning through the wood supply like there’s no tomorrow, as it rains all day and the villagers stay closed inside their homes whilst winter deepens.

There’s snow on the peaks to the South and I’m wearing and re-warming the same pair of knitted woolen socks bought from Grado market last year.

Considering the year we’ve had, I feel grateful to have been able to celebrate three different occasions with people this month:

The Women’s Circle

Also known as a Moon Circle, the idea was born after a friend screened we the uncivilised and was inspired by the community spirit shown.

We thought about having a mixed group fire circle, but with the meeting restrictions it looked too complicated, so we decided to start small with a women’s circle.

Signe & Anna read Moon Circle by Lucy Aitkenread which eased and encouraged the organisation. Her podcast with Rachel Rainbolt about creating community also helped me to understand the idea better and become more open towards it, as at first I had strong reservations about separating the genders.

I still think it would be great if we hosted some mixed ones, but since the experience of the Women’s Circle, I get how this works.

In the end, I came away smelling of woodsmoke and brimming with gratitude for the fellow women who reside here.

We came together on the day of the new moon, with mountainous views, a leading meditation and hot tea with biscuits. 

We shared openly, honestly and as little or as much as we felt comfortable to.

A new neighbour of mine and I are already planning the next one. Manon grew up with circles so it will be a learning experience to create one together.

The feminine energy and feeling of safety created by the space of just being listened to, without comments or advice, was so powerful. So soothing.

I would recommend joining if not starting a Moon Circle to everyone.

Winter Solstice / Yule

Fortunately we have multiple friends who value the seasonal celebrations. So much so that we had one the day before in order to see both sets of people.

On the 20th we went to stay with Ana & Gabor, the proud new parents of baby Alina, born nine days prior to our visit.

What an honour to be their first guests and be invited to share the first magical moments with them.

They each shared with us their version of the birth story and even showed us the video. It was amazing to see such a natural process not over dramatised as we usually see on films or TV.

We ate pizza and talked about life before saying goodbye to get the bus home.

There was just enough time to buy cheese from the local market for Christmas before heading to Raf & Birgit’s slice of mountain to celebrate the solstice night.

Birgit told us to make lots of wishes, “all the wishes”, as many wishes as we could dream of, as we closed our eyes and prayed when we saw the two planets, Jupiter and Saturn, kiss.

The sunset was beautiful, red clouds sinking into vast darkness.

After dinner we sat around the fire outside and each shared a ritual. The fire is always a special place to connect.

Christmas

We had been planning to have our first Christmas in the cabin this year.

Nut roast, trimmings, films and fire.

But when we realised it’d be the first Christmas in Asturias for our Dutch and Scottish friends, we asked if they’d all like to celebrate together.

On the cold Christmas afternoon we piled up to the end of the valley with a cardboard box full of mince pies, vermouth, market cheese and more as Pumba the polar bear maistiff helpfully jumped up on us.

Elise & I were the main cooking team, making confit garlic sprouts; roasties; gravy; nut roast; parsnips and cauliflower gratin. Nik, Iulia, Kasper and Bothan cracked walnuts in the living room as Milo cackled with glee on his six month birthday.

After the delicious lunch we kept on eating with brownies, a cheese board and more mulled wine. Nik had stumbled accross a fun sounding game which involved a minute talking about taboo subjects picked from a bowl in the middle of the room.

A minute turned into unlimited as we found the game really helped us to get to know each other. When I checked the clock ready to go to bed it was 4.45am. So I recommend that as a kind of party-friendly fire circle!

That day, after a sleep, we took a walk around the village to look at the snowy mountains and walk the dogs.

There were enough leftovers for a second lunch then time to say adiós as Kasper & Elise drove us home.

I’ve always wanted to celebrate Christmas with friends and I loved how spontaneously this one happened, with a week’s notice.


Now we’re in those awkward in between days before New Year’s Eve.

It’s a time of reflection but also consideration of what’s to come.

It’s been a really tough year, I think that goes without saying. The oldest man in our village, Isidro, died age 93 on Christmas Eve of coronavirus. The family are in isolation too.

There are friends who live a few kilometres away who I haven’t seen in months and it’s been impossible to plan anything that’s far away from home.

Knowing that, I have some loose ideas about the future. We’d love to travel to South America at the end of March and start renting the house out. But I’m aware that we’ll really have to see how things progress.

We’re still in the process of reforming the house and have managed to get quite a bit done with a little lot of help from our friends.

Dave came over to redo the bathroom roof when he found out Nik had been to A&E because he scythed his thumb (that’s a story for a another time). He devoted five days of his life to helping us and we’re so impressed with how it looks!

Kasper & Elise came over for Ottolenghi’s mushroom lasagne and to help with putting the door back on. We didn’t get much door done but the lasagne was great and Elise helped us buy some new wood for the frame. Now it’s almost finished:

On our own we’ve done some painting, varnishing, wall building and liming. It’s slowly and steadily shaping up and we might even find it hard to leave once it’s done!

I’ve been thinking about how nice it would be to have a larger wood burning oven in the room..but after looking at the prices resolved that that’s just silly.

Well, wishing you felices fiestas and blessings for the New Year. Stay warm and cosy and if you can, do what makes you feel good.

Peace & Pollen x

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