Sunday, March 25, 2007

SPRING in my step

Today's Cuppa: Blackcurrant tea ~ in celebration of the new leaves adorning our blackcurrant bushes. I find blackcurrants quite bitter little things, but for the past six or so years, my girls have stood for hours on end, for days at a time, foraging every last currant and popping them straight down the hatch. Fab source of Vitamin C! And when they're done there are always other temptations… raspberries, gooseberries, plums and before long our cherries, apple and pear will bear fruit. And there's always the hedgerows thick with blackberries! Roll on summer!

Don't spend your precious time asking
'Why isn't the world a better place?'
It will only be time wasted.

The question to ask is 'How can I make it better?'
To that there is an answer.

~ Leo F. Buscaglia

Sunday morning cuppa this week. Sorry! Got side tracked by a little thing called Spring and oh my, how glorious. Sunshine, bird song, moist garden soil, plump wriggly worms and hours of fresh air have awakened new life in me.

I've been very conscious of needing to do a massive spring clean in the house, not because it's spring, but because with spending so much time with kids, work, and latterly writing a book, that other than the basics, the house needs a good bath ~ a real scrub behind the ears. The joys of country living have their downside. Dust particles from outside, and from the wood fire, all manage to find little currents of air to magically dance and fly each little speck to all corners of the house where they settle claiming Squatters Rights. Long after a mother spider has made her babies and moved on to the afterlife, she leaves her webs to shimmy like long-forgotten ghosts waiting to take on new life. Was I the only adult to cry in the latest Charlotte's Web movie when she died? My brain kept telling me that Charlotte was an animation and her voice was Julia Roberts ~ not real, girl, not real. But did that stop me blubbering away? Nope!

Our cottage was built in 1678 ~ longer than my homeland has been settled with naughty little English convicts. At first glance, it's easy to think she's aged well and gracefully, but knowing her intimately, as I do, I see the lines of a life well lived. I also see the damp! She seriously needs incontinence knickers!!!! After all our years of living with her, we finally found a paint colour that hides the rapid mould growth which shows up in the bathroom a week after painting (in any other colour). There used to be an old chimney or something, at that end of the house, for washing laundry. I think the chimney lets water into the walls. Anyway, the colour of choice is deep purple. Combine that with it being a north facing room ~ no sun ~ and an eco-friendly light bulb ~ no light ~ and you just about need a miner's torch to enter the room! But oh how I love not seeing mould! Honest.

When Paul cork-tiled the bathroom floor we were again reminded that they didn't build straight rooms in the olden days. Nothing is even!

Most of the house has painted wooden floors. I'm determined not to paint them again as the so-called floor paint doesn't stand the test of time and I get antsy with peeled paint. It's hard to take pride in your housekeeping when it feels like the ceiling, walls and floor are coming apart!
The floor boards will come up beautifully after I've sanded them, but I know, KNOW, KNOW!! that it will set off a chain reaction of wanting to beautify the rest of this little old woman. The kitchen ceiling (beneath the bathroom) looks like it's going to cave in with years of damp having come through. That will need plastering. Most of the rooms need to be repainted. Of course, though, with an old madam like The Cottage, it's not as straight forward as a bit of lippie and rouge. No, no, no. We've got to fill the cavities with polyfiller and plaster the walls!

All these things you'd just take in your stride if you owned a house, but when you're renting, for some reason, there's always a sense of 'should I bother?' It really struck me yesterday though, that this IS our home and I should love every square inch of her with the same sort of passion I do for other things in my life. My resistance to do so is that, size wise, we outgrew this 2 bedroom cottage years ago. I find it claustrophobic when we have visitors, especially if they've got kids. When Paul's at work, and the girls are at school, it feels positively palatial. But pile more than my family in, and I start hyperventilating! (ok, slight exaggeration).

My mission for Sexy ol' Spring is to put a spring back in the step of this old dame of a cottage and in myself.

I didn't write on my blog yesterday because Spring had sprung. It was one of those perfect family days which in a strange way is hard to define because it was about feeling, rather than doing. To write what we did would seem boring and yet I'd have days like yesterday any day of the year. We all would. 'Twas just a perfectly ordinary day.

The compost heap was getting full and we needed a new one. Normally I get old wooden pallets and make a square-shaped heap, for free! Same thing from the hardware store costs £60. Insane!

Anyway, with no access to a trailer, and a small boot in this car, it wasn't possible to get pallets, but we did have a lot of wood in the back yard from our firewood supply. A local forester sells us trailers of slab wood at a very good price. Slab wood is the length and edge of a tree trunk which is curved, and often still has bark on ~ deliciously rugged and beautiful. Smells divine! Commercially, these pieces they can't be used for anything and are considered 'waste' wood. Not in my garden! WOW…Lovely rustic looking compost heap! Thanks Paul! I've also used the long lengths to mark off the vegetable beds so I can raise them a bit this year, and to define my garden paths. I'm so thrilled. It's like having little rooms in the garden defined for their individual purposes ~ herb garden, leafy greens, berries, root veg., etc.

What made the day particularly lovely was the sheer excitement of the girls, particularly Eliza. They were both keen to weed and turn over the soil without any adult prompting. Eliza spotted her first bumble bee of the season and was over the moon. I think she's destined to be an animal whisperer, such is her love of all creatures.

The happy energy between us and our connection to nature reminded me again of what is really important in my life.

Earlier in the day Eliza asked me if we could ever go and visit New Zealand (the girls' birthplace). I promised her that we would and then added, 'who knows, maybe we might even be able to buy some land there one day and start a 'community' and even set up an alternative school'.

No sooner were the words out of my mouth than I lowered my voice and said, 'but you'll probably be in university by then and there'll be no point'. I can't lie. Most of the dreams I have are so the children can experience them in childhood. I see them getting older so quickly that it won't be long before they can't even be called children.

Bethany's eyes grew wide and in utter disbelief she demanded to know, "WHAT ABOUT MY CHILDREN? Don't you care about them? Your grandchildren? You could build an alternative school for them!"

OUCH! Jeez. "Ok, ok!"

This spring energy is renewing my dreams within me ~ dreams of living on land and being self-sufficient; having like-minded friends and families nearby sharing in and being part of the lifestyle; and always, still, this nagging feeling of bringing the holistic ideas contained within The Mother magazine to a more mainstream audience. I need to find another channel to make it accessible in bite sized pieces.

Two opposing forces live within me ~ the hermit who'd quite happily never see another human again while she potters amongst her herbs and flowers, and the pioneer who wants to bring forth change to a technocratic world that is damaging children from in-utero, before they even step Earthside. Trouble is, both characters want equal play. I'm coming to realise though, it's never going to be one or the other. My dance in life is to let both of them speak…to have my moat, my drawbridge and then to step out when Ms Hermit has had her fill. When Ms Pioneer has worn the top off her soap box, she can come home for a bit and let Ms Hermit take over again my being again...and so it goes on.

All in all, it should keep me out of mischief as I stumble out of my winter hibernation. As for today, which is all I truly have, the sun is beckoning me into my garden. How can I resist?


hestiahomeschool said...

My house is a hundred and ten years old--in the United States, that is considered to be a historic property. My great grandma was from Ireland, and she always said the biggest difference in our cultures is that Americans think 100 years is a long time, and Europeans think a 100 miles is a long distance. (We drive 100 miles to visit playmates.) I can't imagine a house older than before the white people landed here and took the land from my Cherokee ancestors. Bethany's comment reminds me of my oldest daughter Mandy, who is nineteen and in love. I suspect she will not wait a very long time to marry and have children. She has already asked me to homeschool her children. :-)
love, Kas

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mighty acorns said...

my house is only 15 years old and it's a bit sweaty! Veronika, I have sent you an email....about some 'pioneers' who founded a community in Northland NZ along the lines of your dream....