We are living on-base which feels like a return to dorm life: lots of identical spaces, the joys and challenges of very close quarters, minus keg parties, and the addition of children, lots of children. We still don't have our belongings so we are living a fairly spartan existence. I actually enjoy this stage of moving. Always makes me think I can actually attain that elusive goal of voluntary simplicity, yet I know that once our stuff arrives I will quickly return to our familiar pattern of clutter and de-clutter.
So for now I am happily putting all of my energy into transforming our little yard into our own space. I spent the first week walking the neighborhood taking note of what seems to be growing well and spreading the word that I would welcome any donations of plants and/or cuttings. During the second week I started collecting large rocks (from the surrounding countryside and from neighbors who were moving out). I used the rocks to lay out one large bed in the front of our house. And then I did something that shocked the neighbors and the housing manager. I plastered the new bed with large sheets of cardboard. I then watered the cardboard for a few days in a row. In the third week, I added a layer of horse manure followed by a layer of grass cuttings, and topped it with a layer of compost and topsoil. And now I am slowly gathering plants to add to that bed. The neighbors seem relieved that the bed is starting to look a little more normal (no longer just a pile of cardboard and manure!). Once I have most of the bed planted I will add a layer of newspaper and finish it off with some mulch.It's a method of gardening which seems very appropriate for our new life in Italy: lasagna gardening. The newspaper and cardboard are great (free and non-toxic) weed barriers. They will also break down and help to make that heavy clay more garden-friendly. Same for the manure, compost, and grass clippings. I'll try to post some more pics as things progress. Here are a couple from the early stages. Noah loved shoveling all of the manure, but none of us were crazy about the flies that made the trip home with us!