I am sitting here now, at a proper desk, with an absolutely stunning view of a mountain and quite a few sheep, trying to ‘get back at it’.
You see, I have had a few days off. The man and I had guests. Truth be told, the man and I keep ourselves to ourselves. It’s not that we’re unfriendly, it’s just that, well, people really seem like a whole lot of effort most days.
So, here we sit, he and I, just him and me. And the dog. And the cats. And the chickens. Just us. On our little hill. In the middle of nowhere.
But these last few days, we’ve been hosts. We’ve had guests. And lovely, lovely guests they were too. No, really. We like having them here. They are the sort of guests – friends, I suppose one might call them – who just settle in to the way it all works ‘round here. Lots of long, long meandering chats around the table. Kids ‘helping’ with the chickens and ‘entertaining’ the cats and, thankfully, thankfully, thankfully, not crying when the dog – the dog who is just entering adolescence and therefore just ‘finding his voice’ shall we say and just establishing his territory – when the dog decides to go into a barking fit every time anyone shorter than me – and, well, that leaves only children – enters a room.
The ‘he’ of this couple is an Oxbridge man and a marathoner. Very, very British, but not in a bad way. Of course, he does put us all to shame by actually running the mountains ‘round us. And arriving back having barely broken a sweat. But we like him anyway.
The ‘she’ of this couple grew up in a communist country, and I, of course, grew up in the southest of the South in south Alabama. So, in fact, our childhoods have much in common.
And so this she and I can discuss quite happily and quite safely how exciting it is to know Bernie is running in the US. That someone who is ‘out’ as a socialist is actually running for President of the United States. Yes, he has softened it by defining himself a ‘democratic socialist’, but, it’s there, it’s there, the word is still there in the title. No, he’s probably not going to win, but people haven’t gone running the other way. Maybe, just maybe, there’s hope that I will finally be able to also be ‘out’ – after all these years of feeling safe only in Europe and only amongst my closest friends. Maybe, just maybe, change is afoot. Exciting times.
And, eventually, our meandering conversations work their around to ‘life in the country’. The freedom. The space. The air. The quiet. The solitude. The peace.
“What is it like?”
“No, what it is really, really like?”
The man and I look at each other.
What is it really like?
What do we wish we had known then?
Would we do it again if we had it to do all over again?
Yes, oh yes, we’d definitely do this very same thing, in this very same house, on this very same hill if we were doing it all over again.
A definite and resounding yes.
But, you know what, it’s tiring.
Sure, ‘rural’ people, we all know, have a ‘hard’ life. We hear it. We ‘know’ it. None of the conveniences of city life – or even of town life. But, I think we also think ‘it’s not really that hard’.
True. The man and I don’t have to go to work. We don’t have to deal with ‘people’. We don’t have jobs to do.
But Nature is tough. She cares little if the footing beneath you is smooth or solid or dry as you walk the dog or lug the recycling bins the quarter mile uphill to the collection point. She’s not really bothered if you’re being beaten with freezing rain while you’re trying to clean out the hen house. She really could not care less that you have to weight down your greenhouse with very large rocks, lest your food blow away.
She’s tough, that one. She is.
So, would I take her on again if I were doing it all over?
You betcha. Because, yes, she definitely fucks with us just because she can, but she also gives us the most glorious backdrop for life we ever could have asked for.
She gives us freedom. She gives us space. She gives us air and quiet and solitude. She gives us peace.
There’s no doubt I’d do it all again.
But first, I’d probably take a nap.