Sunday, September 21, 2008

A good life

I remember being fascinated by rural life at a very young age.  I fantasized about owning a farm and growing my own veggies and fruit, having chickens for eggs, a cow for milk and sheep for wool.  And a horse to ride on, of course (that has nothing to do with being self-sufficient, but don’t all girls fantasize about that for a while?).
Growing up, I kind of forgot about those dreams. But looking back, there were always some things related to that.  I have always felt a need to see things grow. Even if it was only house plants. I bought them small and enjoyed seeing them get bigger in time.

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I have been through a phase of paganism and witchcraft a few years ago. The religious parts were never my thing, the rituals have faded, but the part of feeling closer to nature stayed. That must have been what got me interested in it in the first place. Keeping track of the changing of the seasons is part of my normal life now.

We bought this house four years ago. It’s in a rather rural spot, just outside the big city of Rotterdam. A small house but with a relatively big garden on three sides of it. I have been imagining starting to live The Good Life  (love that show!) since we moved in.

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I started crying last friday, reading this post by SouleMama. It really touched that soft spot. I really want to be part of a life like that. Growing stuff, harvesting, preparing for winter. But I just don’t know how. It’s not something that can easily be incorporated in our life.

Why not? Well, there are big slabs of concrete under the backgarden. Making it fit for a real garden would take weeks, maybe even months of grinding the concrete (we know, we watched our neighbours do it). Also it is not big enough to sustain a family of five. We would have to rent an allotment to start a real vegetable garden. The nearest we can rent one is about four kilometers from here. We almost did in June, but decided to wait until we had a bit more time on our hands and were a little less tired. Three months later it’s starting to sink in: we’ll never have enough time and energy to do all the things we do now and have to visit that garden daily. I like to think I will be able to soon, after I have rested some more, but “feeling exhausted” is not new to me. In fact I have been struggling with periods of being very tired my whole life. I don’t think it’s realistic to think this will be the last time…

So, I have been feeling disconnected and obsessed lately. Willing to grow stuff, harvest, prepare and knowing it would never happen.

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But today I started reluctantly weeding our front garden. Reluctantly, yes, because I was still mourning not being able to live the Good Life I was longing for. But, as soon as my fingers touched the earth, I felt better. As I always do. And when I kept working my mind came to rest. The earth started speaking to me.

It’s great that so many people can have a life like that and it’s inspiring to read their blogs. But I should realize that we all have our own little place in this world. Mine is “in between”. We are so lucky to be outside of the city and the village, in a little rural area. Our house is semi-detached, something most people here can only dream of. But we are also in the most heavily populated area of our country (and The Netherlands is one of the most heavy populated areas of Europe). Moving is not an option, at least not yet (most of Theo’s clients are in Rotterdam and the girls are to old to pull out off school now).

So no farm for us, not even a bigger garden close to home. No big harvest, no preserving food. No good life.

Or? “A Good Life” is of course a phrase used for selfsufficiently. But for me, it more about a simple life, feeling connected to nature, to the earth. And than it hit me. If I stop being obsessed about the things we can’t have, I do have my own kind of good life.

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Our garden is small, but big enough to get my hands dirty and connect to the earth. Our harvest will never be big, but being able to eat plums from our own little tree (we had 24 this year!)and grapes from our vine (I picked 3 small bunches today and there are about 5 more), knowing that next year there will be strawberries from the three plants in my herbgarden and tomatoes from the few plants that will fit in the very back of the backgarden (a small bit has no concrete) is symbolic for the harvest that I would have on that dreamfarm of ours.
Being able to cut some herbs from that herbgarden (that sounds pretentious, it’s only 1 feet by 4 feet), watch flowers and plants come up , even on spots I didn’t plant them, all those things remind me how nature is all over the planet, not just in the obvious places, but even in the middle of a big city.

It is reminding me how we are part of nature.

That should be enough. And now that the earth had helped me to figure this out, it is.

It really is.

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