Right now it’s all about packing. We are in the middle of moving, shrinking everything in our house into boxes ready to reassemble it all out at Pirate Camp. This means some liquidation, of course – things we no longer truly need, clothes we don’t wear, books we won’t re-read; and it has also meant a fair number of purchases, and a few key finds.
Moving home provides ample evidence in support of the well-tried concept that one parent’s trash is at least one of their children’s treasure; and the small members of la familia pirata are not going to give up hoarding theirs easily. As I write this, in what soon will no longer be our playroom, I cast my eye down to the floor – a teeming mass of, ahem, trash (or at least, items to be passed along). I know that anything to be disposed of must be done beneath the cover of darkness during the 30 minute period when both The Z-Man and Lady C are asleep and I am not. Tricky. Looking around me I see: a plastic mermaid with no arms and a broken tail; a pencil and a wooden block fastened together with medical tape; a Happy Meal toy that was bought (broken) from a yard sale for 20 cents; a doll’s right foot; a dive skin that no longer fits; an odd sock; a favorite pair of too small fur-lined boots, and a squashed plastic container from a Kinder Surprise.
Let’s face it. Packing sucks. For everyone: us, kids, pets. The consolation is that I am sure and certain that the challenges of packing will melt away into the past as quickly as the house disappears in the rear-view mirror, when we drive away in a borrowed truck this weekend. And the other end, the unpacking, the camp building, is where the fun really begins.
Happily, yesterday afternoon was punctuated by a huge slice of pirate-booty-acquiring excitement, when our UPS guy showed up with a bunch of goodies we had got all Amazonian about. Let’s get real here, and to the point. We may be ‘moving into a tent in the woods’, but we are a family, and we are going to make sure that we are comfortable, that all our needs are met. We are not slinging up a Walmart disposadome, climbing into the polyester innards of a cheap sleeping bag, cracking open a can of beans, only to look around and wonder where all the veggies are and what the hell we are going to do next. No, no we are not.
We are building a camp. A super awesome camp. And we will be working steadily on a permaculture farming vision that serves Life on the island. We have made progress clearing the land of a 16 x 16 foot / 5 x 5m square, the space enough for our tent – a Soul Pad 5000 – to land, all beautiful and canvas in its gypsy majesty. We have ordered the timber – arriving Friday – to build a raised platform for said palace to sit. We have a 14 x 14 family tent to use in the meantime while we wait until our Soul Pad’s arrival in June. We will be moving our king size family futon, plus The Z-Man’s twin futon extension, with all our favorite bedding and fluffy pillows. We will have carpets and throws and cushions, musical instruments, books, toys neatly stowed away in woven baskets and boxes… OK, they will actually be largely strewn all over the floor, but the attempt to keep them stowed will be there, at times, largely thwarted and ultimately defeated I am sure.
We have a new stainless steel tea kettle, an essential element to any reasonable British person’s kitchen, be that indoor, outdoor, or lunar. We have a cast iron camp stove, and are the proud new owners of a Berkey water filter. I am particularly stoked about this, as I have coveted this filter since I first saw it online and read the reviews and went all obsessive for a minute. We bought a solar laptop and cell phone charging pack, solar and mains chargeable lanterns, solar-charging flashlights, solar fairy lights, some steel locking 5-gallon buckets for bulk food storage and a plastic one for our loo. We have been gifted a sink, a huge hose and two large cisterns, one of which will be used for rainwater and the other will hold water that we will bring down to camp from the municipal water source that comes in to the property by the street. For now, until we invest in a large enough solar set-up, our refrigeration will be a cooler with freezer packs that we will replenish daily from the fridge up at the main house. We will keep the majority of our perishable food in Senora Azul’s house and bring down what we need for the day. You could call this ‘cheating’, if you were thus motivated. But as we are not playing a game, I call it eating without contracting listeria.
We found the most awesome brightly colored cubby-holed counter / cupboard thing at the dump this afternoon, several wooden pallets for more kitchen counter space, lots of reclaimed lumber for the outhouse and shower, chicken and duck coop and steps to the tent, and we moved our hammock in today.
In addition to all this stuff, the most delighting thing of all, is watching our children interact with this land. The Z-Man is not a creature of the town, even a small and sleepy town like our one and only town on this little island. He is a farm boy, a nature child, and he is also adjusted perfectly for communal life. There is a peace that descends on Z when we are at Pirate Camp, a particular type of peace that we have not seen since we left our farm in New Mexico to be honest. We have seen his ecstasy at the ocean and his hunger to observe and experience all things marine, we have seen his efforts to explore the Spanish language and his delight at rooting himself through his new friendships into a sense of community once again. But I have missed seeing him at ease, wandering around his natural environment at home, pottering, sitting, exploring, sensing. For him, the neighborhood style life, the overlooked backyard, the deliberate planting of an, albeit very beautiful, tropical, fenced and gated plot is not nature, and does not (being a farm boy from rural hundreds of acres of backyard) feel like home. In this he is not alone.
Our children are, I always feel, our barometers. If something is not quite right for them, it’s probably not right for us either; excluding, arguably, armless plastic mermaids with no tails. Where they thrive and flourish, so do we. Where they are free to be huge and unbound, so are we. Lady C has added ‘Pirate Camp’ to her ever-growing vocabulary, The Z-Man is already planning his own garden plot, and J and I have to pinch ourselves regularly to make sure that we are not still dreaming. For this opportunity is an even sweeter, more sustainable, more beautiful situation than the one we suspected we were being greedy in visualizing, but wished for and prayed for and hoped for nonetheless. Daily, I thank this island, her elemental spirits, and the ancestors who lived here and dwell in her spirit realm, for bestowing such blessings upon us. Many times daily. And if you have made it this far – thank YOU for reading.