The compost pile

My time in Belgium will be over in less that 24 hours. It has been an amazing experience. From the second I arrived at the train station in Namur, I have been welcomed as a member of the family. I have fed goats and chickens. I helped build a rabbit house. I have shared family meals, attended Badminton practice and orchestra rehearsal. I have shared wine, beer, cheese and chocolate. A piece of me is very sad to be heading out of Belgium tomorrow, though I know the three weeks in India I have ahead of me will be a kind of incredible that I don’t have the words for yet.
As this leg of my journey comes to a close, I find myself reflecting. Reflecting on the places I’ve been, the year that will infamously be remembered, and who I am as a person. I’m wondering why certain people choose to heal their hearts in different ways. For me, the call to travel; to experience something new is the way I’ve always healed. The call of the unknown. The desperate need to be somewhere else. Just the sheer excitement of planning an adventure can lower my stress level immensely and also raise my heart rate from numb and almost no pulse to full on excitement and vibrance in a matter of seconds. So I’m curious as to why everyone doesn’t take to the sea when they are weary?
I also had one more task yesterday that I didn’t mention yet. Yesterday the weather was finally nice enough to go outside and actually get our hands dirty. Daniel, my host, and I went out into the garden and pruned away all of the dead bits of earth. We cut branches, stalks, leaves, and every piece of the garden that would become a hindrance to the growth of the new vegetables. We then took every bit of dead earth and dumped it into the compost pile. The magical thing about compost piles is this: a pile of rotting, decaying, discarded pieces of the earth. Orange peels, coffee grounds, onion peel, leaves, dirt, etc. The things in the compost pile rot for a year and then they get returned to the garden. This pile covers the vegetables and protects them and infused them with the nutrients that have been retained in the process. These nutrients allow the new vegetables to become larger, more delicious, and better all because of things that discarded and deemed unuseful. Perhaps it is a giant stretch of the imagination, but I feel that it is time for me to prune my branches. I need to take all of the things that hold me back and put them away. They need to rest in a small corner of my mind until I can take the lessons learned from them and become a better version of myself; more vibrant, more full of life, more determined to continue seeking happiness.

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The compost pile

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A WWOOFer in Belgium

A WWOOFer in Belgium

After I left Sweden, I flew to Brussels via a ten hour overnight layover in the Barcelona airport. Now I am in a little village outside of the city Namur. From the moment I arrived, my hosts have treated me like family. Daniel, the father, met me at the train station and brought me to the home he shares with his daughter, Lisa.
I was greeted with a welcome dinner with Daniel, Lisa and four of their friends. We had homemade quiche and shared wine and conversation. I went to sleep with a full stomach and a warm heart.
There are two goats here, chickens and a cat named Loki. There is a good sized vegetable garden and everyday there is work to be done.
I am learning how to feed the animals and there is an injured chicken we are trying to mend. I think she is getting better.
Daniel took me to an 17th century Abbey and to two very old castles; one with a moat. He showed me the spot where the previous king fell tragically to his death while rock climbing near the river.
We have shared so many wonderful meals in my week here. It is so wonderful to eat food that is so fresh and delicious. The potatoes, carrots, cabbages and other delicacies come straight out of the ground. I have to agree that these vegetables taste significantly better than any I’ve bought at Waldbaums or Kroger.
Yesterday we went to the Fresh Market and came home and feasted on three types of olives, peppers, sundried tomatoes, cheese and many delightful sausages. This was our appetizer before enjoying roasted chicken and mashed potatoes.
Then last night Daniel, Lisa and her boyfriend took me into town. We went to the top of the Citadelle de Namur where we enjoyed wonderful views of the city and rivers below. It is a fort with a castle inside and the views are spectacular. There is an amphitheatre and a large slope that the children were sledding on. We saw an amazing sunset and then headed down into town. They led me through the streets of Namur, through the “old city” and then we enjoyed a refreshing beer at La Havanna in an old square near a beautiful church.
I am their first WWOOFer and they are my first hosts. I have quite a few more days here, but I know this is an experience I will take with me forever. I have been welcomed, once again in this journey, as family. Lisa and I became fast friends and I know I’ll probably be friends with her for life. I will definitely WWOOF again. It is such a wonderful way to see and truly experience a place and to meet wonderful people.

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