The nearly perfect house is in Dalmatia

We, as Americans – specifically – live in excess; a place where bigger, and the aspiration for the ever more luxurious consumes our souls as much as our wallets, a state of perpetual want where being ‘content’ is viewed with contempt. I have never felt comfortable with this mindset, and it actually pains me spiritually to witness how this malaise undermines the fabric of our society and disconnects so many of my fellow countrymen/women from living and what is truly important. It’s unfair to imply that Americans are solely guilty of the ‘how much, how big’ syndrome but as one I am allowed to call it out and recalibrate away from it.

While I have lusted over plenty of plaster corniced and rose medallion ceilings, handpainted wallpapers and parquet floors in my day, a tidy cottage of local stone (whether in Scotland, Germany, France) pushes a button in my being that must harken back to childhood faery tales, and what Marie Antoinette sought at Petit Hameau.  My most recent love affair is with a little stone house which sits someplace on the Adriatic, in truth it is something so perfect the first time I saw a picture of it my heart kind of leapt in recognition as it would to a lover – suffice to say it has gotten into my skin like woad dyes of this region must have 2000 years ago! And even though I don’t know exactly where this house is, it makes me smile to just think of the possibility of living there.

perfect house

Photo by my friend Marijan

It’s a simple Golden Ratio proportioned story and a half, and of course it’s made of Dalmatian stone and it has a terracotta tiled roof with bright blue shutters and a door that eventually will softly fade to the colour of chambray work shirt. It is authentically eco-friendly by necessity of its location (I honestly don’t know how you would get ‘city water’ there) with a water collection system feeding an underground cistern (water tank). So, if I lived there, the days of my (quasi) American abuse of unlimited water would come to a carefully observant and restricted halt which, in truth I actually appreciate (at least theoretically) living in such harmony with my surroundings.  It black seedless grapeshas a fragile pergola that grape vines trail over during the growing season, I found a seedless black variety that has been successfully grown in containers on a skyscraper balcony in Japan that I would like to add to what’s already being grown there.  From what I can tell it is surrounded by olives and fig trees and, but I would like to add a cedar or some other evergreen variety  for stringing Christmas lights onto and most certainly an apricot tree and an almond tree.

drystone

University of Oregon 2014 Summer Conservation Programme in Croatia

If it were mine to inhabit I would teach myself the dry stone wall technique and replace the wood pergola with a stone columned one and set this onto an L-shaped stone terrace – which would have to be done first!  I would have to dig out and down about 18-20″ by hand (because I think this little house is on an island and with the surrounding trees you’d never get a backhoe in there to dig it out and level it and ‘importing men’ seems silly) and using small pebbles to fill two to four inches level (delivered by boat?) and then snugly fit with the softly lit beige, grey and stark white native stones. This would likely take me four to six months because undoubtedly a pick ax and sledge hammer to break up the rock underneath would be part of the effort but, I take solace in thinking about how great a work-out it would be and then ‘getting the kinks out’ with a swim at the end of each day!

I would love to add two pair of French doors opening onto the new terrace area under the grapes, and anchor the space with a couple of round over-sized terracotta planters for tomatoes, miniature cucumbers, hot peppers, zucchini and eggplant and herbs. As fresh seafood would become part of my diet what could be better than ‘landscaping’ with a variety of thyme, Dalmatian sage and other low growing herbs?  To one end of the cottage a trellis so that night blooming jasmine would scent the air, and a tiny drought resistant flower garden, all of which should make the bees happy! Oh, did I not mention keeping bees for honey? (Yes, I would have to teach myself that too.)

And of course it would have an utterly incongruous Brazilian double width hammock – you brazilian lace hammockknow the kind with the lush crocheted fringe that look so romantic? – one end ringed to the house and the other to a substantial (sunk in cement pole) that was also a whimsical garden totem! – positioned so that you could watch the moon rise and set, sleep under the stars (if you wanted with a mosquito net as might be necessary) and be lulled to the lyrical music of the earth in the form of the flood tide and then its ebbing.

I found a tiny AGA range in Aubergine that would allow cooking and heating water with all companion-aubergine-largekinds of efficiency and, really, who wouldn’t be charmed to make breakfast for overnight guests, or dinner for your closest 20 friends on this in combination with the outdoor fireplace to grill?

This close to the Adriatic I am sure there is egress from the property to swim in the salt water with the dolphins that come to play – so eco-friendly landscaping that holds the soil, keeps things tidy and pretty and more stone stairs with a small pier to dive from, or have company come to visit by water and have a place to tie up their boat (I don’t know if that is already in place or not) seems also ‘practical’.  pier

The beautiful thing about exploring a new culture is wistful daydreaming about the life you can carve out for yourself. To write your second book (or third), to live in harmony and in reverence in a heightened state of gratitude for small pleasures, to live more authentically than “this American life” certainly allows for – which has never been part of my reality but certainly impacts my psyche just the same.  In 2014, who do you really aspire to be? What changes will you make to live – REALLY LIVE?

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency through PayPal via livelikeadog@gmail.com and do share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my print or ebook from Amazon, please click on the cover art of my book, ebook also available through Barnes & Noble and Lulu, thank you! 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s