28 November 2008

The reward

Strawberries picked in the backyard two days ago.

I have no idea what I'm going to write about today. Generally, I have a vague notion because I've taken some photos, but today, nothing.

I do hope all my American friends are enjoying Thanksgiving. As I write this it's 4.30 am here, 10.30am in San Francisco and 1.30pm in New York so I have visions of turkey and stuffing either being eaten or still in the oven. Whatever you're doing, whom ever you are with, I hope you have a lovely day.

It's been a very quiet week here. I rise at 4, write my blog, feed the animals, have breakfast, tidy up and then lock myself in the sewing room with the laptop to write most of the day. I look out to the garden, and often see Hanno working out there, but I remain seated, clicking away on the keys, sorting through notes and, sometimes, fighting the inclination to go outside. I have found over the years that writing is a brain function you have to work up to. When I first started, it was very difficult to concentrate, I would think about what I'd just finished or what I was going to do later. Now that I have built a routine around it, it's easier to sit and stay focused, but I still have to fight the urge to leave when I see Hanno outside working in the cool shade, checking pumpkins, pouring water on plants or talking to Alice.

We live a charmed life. Gone are the days of regular routines, having to do laundry every day, working for others, and being ruled by a clock. Our days here are often a duplicate of the day before but each day seems fresh and new. The familiarity of it all allows us to glide through our days with ease, tweaking this, mending that, planting, harvesting, planning and living well. Each day we piece together another part of our life's patchwork - a gentle jumble of doing what we have to do and doing what we want to do.

I didn't know this kind of contentment was freely available to those who persevered with the ups and downs of ordinary life. When I was younger and my family, my job and my housework drained all strength from me, I didn't know there was a reward waiting. But here I am, living the reward, and I am here to remind you of it too. There are seasons in our lives that we all must go through to reach the next stage. Some seasons, especially those in young married life when a mortgage is being paid and children are being raised, are so intense they sometimes blur the rewards of the work. But when you come out the other end and your children set out on their own lives, you set out on yours again too. Oh, it's sad to see them go, but you soon realise it's just another stage and new activities and tasks will soon consume you, while you build your life around the newness of it all.

So on this day of thanksgiving, no matter at what stage of life you're at, I hope you understand that if you're going through hard times or good times, they are the extremes of life. Most of it is just plain old life, nothing fancy, it's just breathing in and breathing out, and if you're smart, you'll see the worth of ordinary life and make every day count.

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