31 March 2010


 The beginnings of our new season garden.

From the outside, our simple house belies the fact that such rich lives are being lived here. You can see and feel it in the backyard with the abundance of life evident there, but at the front, well, our small home looks like many others dotted endlessly throughout the urban and rural areas of Australia. But Hanno and I have found the secret of living well and we are developing the art of it every day. It took that break away from blogging for me to step back and look at what we've got here. Our lives are not just skin deep, there is real depth here.

 Tomatoes, capsicums and green onions.

Taking a break from this blog, even though it is a familiar friend to me now, helped me step back and take in how our lives here have evolved and shaped us. During my break I made sure I slowed down. It's one aspect of this simple life that I always need to readjust. Swiftness and efficiency often take over from slow and mindful, especially on work days and when I'm away from home. I need to slow myself back down again, put the brakes on and remind myself that work done slowly and mindfully easily gets through the chores and there is no stress at the end of the day.

Here is my main gardener, Mr Hetzel.

So while I've been away, Hanno has been working on the garden and I have to tell you that the soil this year is the best it's ever been. From almost empty beds just a few short weeks ago, we now have cucumbers nearly ready to eat, capsicums (peppers), lettuces, tomatoes, bok choy, beetroot, radishes, sugarloaf cabbages and green beans. In the bushhouse, we planted seeds for leeks, tomatoes, more sugarloaf cabbages, silverbeet and those wildly mad zinnias that bring bright colour to the garden. The zinnias are ready for planting now, the vegetables need another week or two.

Bok choy growing fast in front of grass clippings waiting to be made into compost.

Inside our home I've been knitting Hanno a jumper (sweater) and am just finishing the back. I hope to have him in it by June. I've also been reading new books and re-reading older ones, especially the wonderful Simple Living by Frank Levering and Wanda Urbanska. I read it several years ago but I'm enjoying it more now because I understand, from experience, what it is they hoped to do and how they fashioned their lives to suit themselves. I also have The New Compete Book of Self Sufficiency by the late John Seymour, sent to me as a blog giveaway by Steel Kitten, that I'm enjoying a lot. She actually sent two copies because the first one took months to arrive and she immediately ordered another copy when I told her it hadn't arrived. Naturally, when one turned up, so did the other. Thank you, Sarah. And thanks to everyone who sent a comment about my return. It gives me a wonderful feeling knowing that I'm welcomed back and have been missed.

Yes, it came back again.  It was hiding behind the nesting boxes.

The chooks are healthy and happy, even though they had another visit from that snake. Alice is doing well, despite her old age and ill health. Things are starting to settle down at my voluntary job and I imagine that in a month or so the slow rhythm of my days will return there as well. I've rearranged and stopped a few things I was doing so that now I feel quietly confident that I can keep up my home duties, work in my community and at a couple of little jobs and get everything done that needs doing. It's a good feeling knowing those tasks I've set myself will be carried out as planned. I do not need every day to be a good one, but I do need to know that I have done my best everyday.

Cucumber tendrils have grown higher than they ought. In the background is a lemon tree with about one hundred lemons growing fat and juicy.

I remember when I first stopped working for a living, one of the things I hoped the days ahead would hold was richness. I was not seeking richness in a monetary sense but more a life that was multi-layered, that built on its foundations and add layer upon layer the kind of work that would result in an unusual life by today's standards as well as a rich and rewarding one. Tick.

Some of the seeds we planted.  The zinnias will be planted out today.

There is nothing better than waking to a new day that you know will be full of productive and interesting work around the home.  Pottering with this and that, putting things right, cooking, gardening, baking, sewing, sitting and thinking - all the things that went into old fashioned lives and not so much into those that are modern. Those things, to me, make a perfect day.  And the truth is these days are so easy to home make.   All they require is a commitment to one's self - a promise to stay true to our values and to live as we wish, not part of an homogeneous crowd, but as individuals who think about how we live.  I do not need many of those perfect days to keep me going, just the promise of one tomorrow or next week is enough.  And enough is all I'm after.

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