Cobbing my cottage

Monday, 19 March 2012

The wheels keep ever so slowly turning...

It's been a long winter for my young old bones and my cottage dreams have been buried under the deep Finnish snow. When I visited there last month, this is what the future building site looked like:

Sometimes it is hard to imagine how anyone can survive these conditions. :) Don't take me wrong, I was brought up here and love the snow for few weeks when I visit, but to endure the cold, dark and snow for months on end, requires particular patience. Perhaps I never really had it, since I always dreamt of foreign lands and eventually moved to slightly warmer climates (if you can call UK that!) almost 15 years ago. Looking at this scenery of my childhood, I can just about picture my little Earth Tree House in the midst of the snow and trees. How cold! Or, how cozy! :)

The circle of sticks I placed for my planned build in November are still just about visible under the 70cm layer of snow. But, as the seasons change, also my plans have changed...

During my visit in wintery Finland, I met up with Paul Lynch, whose Natural Building Company in Inkoo builds and renovates natural and traditional buildings in Finland. Paul drove me around some strawbale houses they had built through workshops in the past years and introduced me to some interesting people, who are all part of the natural building movement there. It was very exciting, though somehow very strange as well, to be sitting in a very traditional Finnish wooden log cabin in the middle of a forest, sipping coffee, watching a snow blizzard outside and talking about natural building with an Irishman, Englishman and a Dane... it almost felt like home...! :)

After our discussion and all the information Paul gave me, I was completely overwhelmed to say the least. There was this huge fear in my mind, wondering what have I gotten myself into... I don't know anything about building. I don't have any money... real skills... I don't even live here! I could see myself just ditching the whole idea and saying: I can't do it!

But, while driving back from Inkoo to my parents place on snow covered roads with horizontal snow whipping against the car, the powdery scenery put me almost into a dream-like state... I thought, yes, maybe I can do it. Maybe there is a way. I will have to take in what has been said and feel my heart, what is that saying. And my heart as usual, was jumping up and down, shouting: yes yes yes I want to do this! I just have to do it in a way, which is not going to break my back, my bank or my brain. Or my heart. I wouldn't want to start a project I couldn't finish, and that was Paul's one concern, that even though my plan wasn't big, it was huge enough for a beginner, building slowly with cob and in limited time (max. three months). What if I build a tiny one, less than 10m2? First I thought it's like giving up, but the more I thought about it , the more it started to make sense. I would need less materials, less time, less money, less help, less brains... hahaha... well, at least the right side of my brain would be able to play more, because the left side wouldn't be so bloody worried about everything...

Yes, I will build a tiny house, with what I have, try out everything, make a lot of mistakes, have a laugh, enjoy, connect with my heart and nature and complete it to a point where by early Autumn, it will withstand the scenery in the photo above. And then continue the following year. And then the following year. And every year build something else, maybe something bigger, maybe something smaller...

So, today, my flights are booked. I start digging the ground on the last day of May, which is accidentally quite meaningful, as it always used to mark the last day of school and the first day of long Finnish summer holidays (2.5 months). The last day of May was always full; full of magic, happiness, sadness, anxiety, memories, excitement. It is funny that I start the build on that very same day, many many many years later, as an adult, probably going through those same feelings in a way. I am very much trying to get my head around different things I need to buy, and how to avoid buying some of them. Luckily I have my cob already (in the ground), the strawbales, few windows and all the wood I will be needing. There are many things that I am completely clueless about and which create terror in my mind, yet there are many things that I know aren't as important as my mind makes them to be - people have been building little huts and houses for thousands of years - I am one of them and I have a lot of love and enthusiasm for this build.

I am so grateful for the advice I have been, and am continuously, given, as it means I don't feel completely alone in this, even though in many ways it is my lone project. I am hoping I can meet and work with people through the summer, who are interested in the same things than I am (and maybe even some who yet aren't). In a way the natural living and building is a beautiful movement as 'natural' will always be a choice people are drawn towards instinctively, maybe now, in this increasingly commercial and hard world, more than ever. If I can help for my part to bring some awareness to it, I will gladly do that, if only to show that yes, you can - and yes, you should. It is a positive thought to carry inside.

In the evening, when my chattering mind has gone to sleep, I lie quiet in my bed and return to my heart, and know that whatever happens, I must at least try, because, in a way there is no other choice. The forest that was my playground as a child is now going to be watching me play as an adult. So, if the build becomes only hard work and no play, I will stop. I owe it to the forest to live the build through my inner child, some twenty odd years later. I made a promise to the tree. But shhhh - don't tell anyone! :)

Me and a snow buddha I built :)

I will aim to write this blog a bit more often from now on. If you are on Facebook and want to follow the process there, please join my group The Earth Tree House. Many thanks for reading! Namaste xx