Journal November 2021

We have had a fully booked house in the past few months and also the coming month all rooms are occupied. The extra helping hands have been very welcome and we are pleased to see all guests look forward to return here again at their time of departure. Meanwhile we moved inside for the evening meals, and we now serve all meals in a buffet setting. We have made progress with the building activities and Edwin’s ongoing presence becomes more materialised, as the wall he is building is becoming more and more prominent.

The continuous coming and going of guests challenges the staff to offer a stable rhythm throughout the day, making sure the services and the food are of high enough quality and everyone has the space to contribute to and contemplate the whole in a balanced way. With gratitude, loving-kindness and respect everyone involved in this wonderful adventure aims to find a harmonious way of living. With ourselves, each other and everything there is.

The garden of the Asharum Nijar: Back to the Roots

The cauliflower, cabbages, broccoli and turnips we planted last month are growing well and the potato field is looking better every day. As the ground is still quite tough, despite the extra manure and compost we added, it needs to be loosened up now and then. The past days we received quite some rain so the weeds will come up and the fields will need some more attention. We planted many onions with the help of the parents of Tim who visited the area. Irma, Louise and Wabke also planted more cabbages, beans and salad so we will have many nutritious dinners in the coming months. Marijke did an amazing job in designing the fields so the lower vegetable garden is not done in squares but more circular.

This month we planted a dozen new trees and around the same amount of shrubs. Uli, a long- time friend of our community, helped to clear and equalise the land in some parts to make space for these trees. The garden now also has a cherry, a walnut, a nectarine, a peach, a chirimoya, another date palm and six more mulberry trees. Next to that we planted hazel, raspberries, more jasmine and several climbing plants that will decorate the walls with leaves and flowers. We are very grateful that a befriended couple from the village donated us two exotic trees from Bangladesh that they germinated in Nijar from seed. One is a Jamun or Jambul tree (Syzygium cumini) that can become pretty large and the other is a Jujube (Ziziphus mauritania). Both are evergreens and will hopefully bestow us with their fruits. We plan to plant more trees next month and together with the help of two knowledgeable ladies from a local plant store we are looking for specific trees to plant in our garden, as advised by Chris.

Currently the oranges and tangerines are turning from green to orange and this creates a very agreeable and colourful effect throughout the garden. We are still picking fresh figs daily and everyone helped to harvest around 250kg of olives, most of which we brought to a local oil mill to turn them into olive oil. With the help of Lillian, another long-time friend of our community that visits and helps very regularly, Andrée has made plenty of jars with local herb infused olives.

There has been an explosion of crickets and grasshoppers in the past month and they love to dine on the new leaves of young trees and vegetables. The use of Neem oil helps to prevent this to some extent, and in this perspective, we are lucky there has been some rain and temperatures have been slightly lower than average so they did not turn out into a plague.

More building and improving

Our premises have been quite busy with workers the last weeks. They start at 8am, so our morning silence is more an inner silence these days. By now, we know them well and they manage to do their job, while we live here and receive guests. They also try to respect our meditation time in the morning by keeping the building sounds to a minimum around 10am. The step by step improvements are encouraging us to uphold the atmosphere and beauty of this place, while walls are being torn down, stones are being cut and sand, cement and other materials are piling up around our entrance way to the garden.

The coming weeks the current meditation and dining room will be embellished with a new east facing wall and a tiled floor so, while we are fully booked and autumn is in the weather, we will have to be flexible and creative in providing an optimal experience for our guests. The extra room (the fifth) is almost finished and promises to be a great addition to our facilities. After these works there are several more plans for improving the Asharum like extra parking spots, a dining terrace and the long-awaited new kitchen. The next months will be very exciting and we hope to be able to welcome all in a well-established setting in the new year.

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