A winter season in the enchanting village of Breb
Imagine a world where time seems to stand as still as the haystacks scattered amongst fruit trees, where people do favors for strangers because they are born with kindness, where life is lived simply because it has been done that way for hundreds of years and it is the way that it always will be.
That world does indeed exist, though we didn’t find it anywhere we had been looking. With miles and kilometers traveled east and west we have finally found a place to rest, to nestle in a comforting wooden home – heated by beech, maple and alder from the surrounding forests, to drink water from the mountains, to wake up to the crowing of roosters and throughout the day to hear horses pulling carts of wood and hay, trotting past our kitchen window.
We are asking for help to carry out our quest – an internship of sorts – to learn important skills that are in danger of being lost. Our elders are full of knowledge, yet technology is swooshing by, leaving nothing but dust on the shelves of skilfully hand carved objects. Wood will always be part of our lives. Planting trees is something that anyone can and should do. Harvesting the wood is for those with not only muscle and saw, but also an affection for the perhaps most visceral way of heating. Seeing something magnificent in the grain, takes talent and a steady hand. By contrast, plastic is man-made, but it cannot be lovingly grown in the backyard and looked after by generations, it can only be looked upon by our grandchildren as it slowly decays over decades, polluting away with time.
After being convinced about the “why”, it is the process of the how that we seek to know in the use of natural materials.
What can we possibly learn in a village?
A lot, in the right place. Here in Breb there are weavers of baskets and wool, spinners, blacksmiths, wood carvers, shingle makers, embroiderers, seamstresses… who needs a store when you can hire a local using local materials?! Six months may not be enough time to learn everything we would like to know, but we will do all that we can to soak in as much weaving knowledge as possible, so that in turn we can create our own textiles for home and wardrobe use. Need a wood shingle roof? We will gather those skills as well, just keep in touch.
What is this if not going native in an awe-inspiring atmosphere? Can it be our way into homesteading once again… finding that nurturing tilth for our soles and souls alike, we have sought after all these many years?
In more than one way, people are thinking about sustainability and self-reliance here in Maramureş County. From the eco-friendly accommodations to the organic farming methods inherited from bygone generations, to the extensive biodiversity that the Creasta Cocoşului has to offer, here, nature is in command, and given the chance it will take the lead. You can help us make this happen.
It is an opportunity of a lifetime for us to spend a winter in Breb, Romania handcrafting our way through the snow. It could be an opportunity for you too! If you have ever had dreams of traveling far from home, to spend a winter in the mountains, or to live simply without running water and for one reason or another your plans fell through, now is the chance for you to do just that and at the same time help a small family achieve their dreams.
With ultimate gratefulness we invite you to live vicariously through us.
Throughout the winter months of November, December, January, February, March and April – yes, it is a long cold season! – our living expenses amount to about £300/month. That is for rent of a small home with fireplace, electricity and no running water, a generous amount of dry firewood, food (mostly bought from locals and foraged from the land), internet, and a bit of money to keep feeding Csermely’s curiosity and artistic self-expression. Please keep in mind that this covers not just one person, but our entire family of three.
£1800 allows us not only to get by, but to thrive for 6 months, staying warm, eating well and creatively handcrafting all the way!
In exchange for your kind support we will send private updates about our journey in the form of photos, poems, artwork, videos and stories of our simple winter in Romania. Bring on the snow and keep us in the glowing warmth of the wood fire, working away at the loom, creating beautiful stories that we can tell our future grandchildren.
Experiences like these mean the world to us as well as the community that hosts us: we help, we learn, we teach, we share and that is what makes meaningful lives go on.
We are here and ready, with your generous help to achieve all this!
If we reach our campaign goal, there will be little surprise handmade treats for all who have contributed to our success.
Thank you so much!
Cheryl, Csermely and Roland Magyar