Hello sweet friends,
How's your week been?
I've actually had a lovely few days. Where last week I felt like I was writing to you from inside a snow globe, this week feels completely different. This week I feel like I'm writing from Snow White's castle. You know the one where Snow White lay asleep for 100 years while the vines grow up and covered the stones and the windows and the roof until it was all dark and gloomy inside? Except in my case we've spent time cutting at the vines, and now the light is slowly starting to stream on in.
I mean that literally and figuratively.
This week we actually have spent time on the brush cutters and on the chain saw, mowing and chopping and clearing the way. I love this sort of work. It is dirty and loud and physical and the results are immediate. Where there was once a forest of bracken and gorse and blackberry and thistles, now there is a path and a view through the forest. It's clearing the way, it's letting the light in, it's making things prettier and it's tackling something that has been upsetting me but that I've learnt to live with. It's crazy what a difference this has made to the way I see our farm. And the way I feel psychologically in general. It's completely encouraged me to veer off the path of the urgent to-do list, and make time to tackle the less immediately important jobs.
I hope we get a chance to continue. I'd love to put the farm to bed for winter all fresh and cleaned up and airy.
The only down side of the whole experience so far was being bitten on the bum by a bull ant. There I was minding my own business, completely focused on the job at hand when all of a sudden I felt excruciating burning pain on my bum. I somehow got Bren's attention on the other side of the way and together we broke the world record getting me out of my helmet, headphones, glasses, vest-harness, overalls and undies. The pain!! Luckily Bren saw the angry creature as it was escaping so at least we knew what we were dealing with. But oh my goodness OUCH!! Followed by that insatiable itch all night and two big red lumps today. Poor me.
We've also been restocking some of the wood piles that have fallen over and I read this great paragraph in the book Norwegian Wood: Chopping, Stacking, and Drying Wood the Scandinavian Way by Lars Mytting. Thanks for the recommendation OurHouseInQuercy.
You know exactly where you are with a woodpile. Its share price doesn't fall on the stock market. It won't rust. It won't sue for divorce. It just stands there and does one thing:It waits for winter. An investment account reminding you of all the hard work you've put into it. On bitterly cold January mornings will bring back memories of those spring days when you sawed, split, and stacked as you worked to insure yourself against the cold. There's that twisted knot that just wouldn't surrender to your ax. And isn't that the log you pushed in at the wrong angle, making the whole pile collapse? Yes, that's the one alright. Well winter's here, and now it's your turn to feed the flames.
As well as the literal clearing of the vines to let the light come through, I've also spent time looking for other small changes I can make to bring in the sunshine.
On Wednesday I spent the entire day away from the farm. I took a train with my mum to the city where we lunched, we shopped, we coffeed, we sat on my sister's couch for hours, we talked, we planned and even though the guilt tried to creep in a few times, I saw it and I banished it away.
It was such a wonderful day that I hardly slept that night I was so buzzing with sweet thoughts and ideas. I think I need to take a break from my own life on occasion when I can in order to appreciate what I have and to see it with fresh eyes.
I did consider deleting Instagram after consistent questioning of the commercialisation, the slickly styled, the ridiculous amount of hash-tags people use and the way they think they can tell me how to live my life. It just feels like it's lost a lot of the natural sharing of moments of our lives that it used to be.
But then I worried about losing the connections and the community that I've made.
So I made the decision to only check in occasionally, a couple of times a day maximum, rather than any time I'm sitting still. I think I'll probably have to make myself some proper timing rules to enforce that.
And although it feels rude, I'm going to delete some accounts that don't speak to me any longer and I'm going to post my moments without worry of outside judgment. The kinds of beautifully real moments I always love to see.
I read The Good People by Hannah Kent and oh my goodness I loved it. I just can't get enough of stories of early 1800's Europe. I love the tales of fairies and changelings, the herbal medicines, the references to the knitting and spinning and dyeing and the way their superstitions and beliefs ruled the ways they lived.
One time last year I heard Hannah speak at an event. She spoke of her love life which had nothing at all to do with her books, and to be honest I was surprised. Her writing is so intense and dark and other worldly, that I almost couldn't imagine her being a young woman living a normal 2016 life. But I was relieved to find that from the first page of The Good People I forgot all about the jeans she was wearing and the iPhone she carried and was immediately swept away. What a talent she has for writing atmospheres so thick you can almost smell the wood smoke and the damp of the earth, and introduce us to characters who are so beautifully described that we can almost see them and we miss them once the final page is turned. I only hope Hannah is well and truly into the writing of her next book, because I for one can hardly wait to read it.
This morning, exactly a week later, we turned up and she pulled out the same circuit. She hadn't rubbed it off and wanted us to complete three rounds of the exercises we had failed the week before. I laughed and told her she was messing with my head. How was I to this thing that only days before I had dismally failed at?
But seven days in a snow globe compared to seven days in a castle where the sunlight is starting to stream in, make an enormous difference to one's physical strength, because this week I could and did. I lifted and pushed up and ran and squatted and threw and lifted myself up and I walked out of there feeling on top of the world.
I'll need to remind myself not to be so disappointed in myself when I have setbacks in the future and that it doesn't take much to get back up there again.
But I guess that's not the way that I work.
Gosh what an all over the place blog this has been. Thanks for coming along for the ride. And thanks also for your sweet words of encouragement and understanding on my last blog. They means the world to me. I read them all and talk about them with Bren and always intend to reply, but sometimes I'm better at that than others.
Anyway, I hope you've got something fun to look forward to coming up. And I hope you're sleeping well at night, it's such a pain being a bad sleeper. I hope you have a lovely project you can't wait to get back to and a book you don't want to put down.
Happy weekend my friends.
Love, love, love Kate xx