Awakened Life Project : Projeto Vida Desperta Rotating Header Image

Natural Vortex

By Laura Williams

Laura and first cucumber!

Laura and first cucumber!

One sunny morning after meditation when I’d been here about 2 weeks I sat in the post meditation calm and gazed out over the valley. It had been raining for days so the sun felt new and welcome. As I looked I was captivated to see the sunlit air peppered with hundreds, maybe thousands, of insects swirling and dancing in the early morning light. There were tiny dancing gnats, mere specks, large and purposeful beetles, dizzying flies creating swift and erratic arcs, there were colourful butterflies and sedate moths. I was uplifted to witness such a variety and quantity of small flying creatures illuminated and otherworldly in the sunshine. My heart soared and opened as I realised I was here sharing this wonderful place with so many other creatures. In turn I saw them through different sets of eyes. After my wonder and sheer joy of their innate value as life I saw them with a bird’s eye as bountiful food with which I could raise a healthy brood, a gardener’s eye for pollinators and helpful predatory insects and a biologist’s eye as a strong foundation for the web of all local life.

I don’t remember being anywhere with such bold and calm wildlife as here on the quinta. I foolishly decided to let weight of my pack rule my decision about which binoculars to bring and swapped my heavy decent 8 x 40s for my mum’s ineffectual  compacts and yet I’ve been able to identify several bird species new to me because I can get so close. Alpine swift, Serrin, Black redstart and particularly the striking Rock bunting which sat boldly in the fruit trees calling to it’s brood as they fledged. The wildlife here is incredibly visible. And plentiful. I’ve seen wild boar in the woods and used their paths to guide me out of a steep and jungle-like hillside where I had become entangled and lost. Thankfully they don’t come on to the quinta itself as they cause significant damage to trees and walls with their powerful snouts and tusks as they dig for grubs and roots.

balck redstartRedstart
rock bunting

rock bunting



Another exciting sighting was a usually shy nocturnal creature. I’d caught some large cat like eyes in my torch a couple of times returning to my tent at night and heard gentle movements around my tent when in bed, but one night I was having a late night snack in the entrance to my tent with my head torch on out of the darkness a cat-like creature appeared and sauntered across seemingly unperturbed by either my presence or the headtorch pointing directly at it. I froze mid chew, heart pounding with excitement and as it went around the tent I followed slowly with the torch as it went off foraging onto the night. It was like a cross between a cat and a marten, feline features, long bushy striped tail and surprisingly short legs – a genet! What a privilege to be that close, I could hardly sleep that night.



In the garden we endeavour to work with nature rather than against her. To that end we encourage as much diversity of life as possible, the greater the variety of species present, even those conventionally viewed as pests or weeds, the greater the chance of overall harmony and population stability – i.e. the smaller the chance of any one pest population being able to proliferate unchecked. For example we have beds given over to wildflowers and weeds around the garden for insects of all descriptions including the useful predators and pollinators. And it works! We have aphids but only on a few bean plants and the odd sunflower rather than every plant and not in numbers that are damaging the plants. I love to watch the ants farming the aphids for their sweet, dewy secretions, a symbiotic relationship where the ants give protection in return for food. There are other ‘pests’ too and weeds but they are a part of the whole and the overall picture is one of harmony.


Not only does this wild gardening encourage predators and pollinators needed for the garden but also for the rest of the food chain; the larger insects, small mammals, the birds and larger mammals. But it all starts in the soil which when healthy should be teeming with microorganisms, bacteria and fungi and we are actively improving the compacted, acid soil with manure, raised beds, mulch and compost. The worm population, which was virtually nil, is increasing, though there’s still much excitement when we find one and we have molehills appearing which I take to be a great indicator of improved soil health and delight in finding a new mound. Where there are moles there’s soil life and that’s what we’re aiming for.



That’s the theory and its working but I feel there’s something deeper going on. I sense as we take a step towards nature she doesn’t wait to meet us halfway she literally rushes towards us. Hence as we garden, build and create with a conscious intention to harmonise with the energy of the place we see how it responds almost daily in increases in numbers and diversity of the wildlife. And I can’t help but reply to that either. I talk to the garden, the plants, the animals and all of the beings that live there. I express my intense gratitude for the abundance and their sheer existence, simply because it feels like the most natural thing in the world to do so. I’m not the only sentient being in the garden so it makes sense to communicate and appreciate the other beings. Shortly before I left to come to Wales for a month I commented to Mim as I looked at the perfectly formed but totally green tomatoes that I would have loved to taste ripe one before I left. The next day I noticed one ripening tomato nestled amongst the green ones. It was ripe the day before I left.

red tomato


I also receive comfort and support off the wild creatures of the quinta in different ways. One day after a couple of days of believing my ego saying I need to be anywhere other than where I am and resisting the truth that I don’t, I had emerged, with the help of the others, victorious. I was content but a little tired. As I went about my day, wildlife kept appearing in my path and just staying there. A gecko on the terrace wall, a lizard on the path, a Grey wagtail by the waterfall and the Rock bunting, calling, apparently whenever I looked up at a tree. These usually shy and retiring creatures appearing visible to me seemed to be saying ‘You’re in the right place, no need to be anywhere else.’

Grey wagtail

Grey wagtail

When I think back to that vision of those multitudinous insects rising in the sun I think of a vortex rising up, as with commitment and vision, the human elements of the project are rising-up, evolving. And as we do so we are surrounded and supported by the non-human elements, the sentient and the non-sentient, nature responding to our conscious intention to live beyond ego, to live and evolve in the truth of consciousness.



  1. Glen says:

    Beautiful, Laura
    So well written and so…. I loved reading this.

  2. Dear Laura,
    What a great post.
    informative: I will now be looking with keener eyes at the uptill now unidentifiable birds that cross my path daily, and the thought that I might too get to see a Genet has got me recharging my head torch batteries.
    Thanks for such a fine piece
    Your are walking your walk and talking your talk,

  3. Roberta Anderson says:

    Laura, your beautifully-written post helps us all to see the beauty and grandeur of our beloved earth with fresh eyes. Such a beautiful addition to the Awakened Life Project blog, which is ever-interesting and educational. Say hi to our lovely friends, Pete and Cynthia, for me, and enjoy your stay at the Quinta–(which you clearly already are!)

  4. Ant. says:

    Thank you, Laura, for the inspiration and the photos of the birds I didn’t even know existed! I look forward to learning more from your knowledge and wisdom.

Leave a Reply

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Best Green Blogs