Without the guilt

23 May 2016
It's a beautiful time of year and we're just about to go into winter. The weather has been unseasonal here, as it has been in many parts of the world. I wonder how you're faring where you are; I wonder if you're worried. It's been warm here with temperatures reaching the mid to high-20s most days and a few nights cool enough to warrant flannel sheets on the bed. There were no passionfruits on our backyard vines this season and right now, when we should have just finished harvesting, the passionfruit are starting to flower.  They won't come to anything, the flowers will drop off when the cold weather sets in and we'll be left wondering if we'll eat our own home grown passionfruits next year. Many years ago when I read about climate change, I wondered what would happen and how we could cut back on our carbon emmisions here. I suppose we put in an effort to reduce what we bought, we wasted less, stopped flying, bought a hybrid car, significantly reduced our usage of plastics and imported goods but it wasn't enough. Now I'm scared of what is ahead. Every year new records are set and some of the fruit and vegetables we grow here behave in strange ways. Have you noticed the same thing where you live? I believe those of us who are living simply notice the impact we have on our surrounding environment but every modern life is supported by materials that just weren't around a hundred years ago. I wonder what price we're paying for those materials or if that price will be paid by our grandchildren instead. Have you made any changes in your home because of climate change? Many of us worry and complain about the weather and what's happening in the world but when does that worry become a genuine effort to change how we live?

I feel as if I've just retired even though I stopped working for a living when I was 55. I gave up being a technical writer, then, after being totally fascinated by simple life, started writing about it and became a blogger and author instead. I didn't go out to an office every day but I put in the hours in front of a computer and still lived a life of deadlines. My days are gentler now, I said no to more published work and followed my natural inclinations back home. These days, instead of patchworking my home life with my writing life, I'm free to do as I wish, potter around to my heart's content and have my creative, intellectual and practical needs fulfilled within the confines of these fences.

Mornings start slowly because I have plenty of time to do what I need to do. During the day I've been re-establishing routines, working on my fabric and yarn handicrafts, helping Hanno with the garden, cooking, baking, making plenty of tea, reading and thinking about what is to come in the next few years. In the past couple of weeks, I cleaned out the stockpile and pantry cupboards and have decided to cut back a little on the stockpile. It's still an important part of my home management but now that I'm not writing, I have more time to go to the market and keep a better eye on my food stores. I'm committed to adding more home preserved foods to the stockpile too and they'll replace some of the jarred and tinned food I was buying.

I've just started making yoghurt again. It was a regular part of my kitchen chores up until a couple of years ago, as was preserving in jars, but when I got busy writing books, some things had to go and I started buying supermarket yoghurt.  That is never as good as the homemade version so I'm pleased to be back. I made my first litre in a long time just the other day and it feels good to be using my dairy skills again. When I gave up making yoghurt and preserving, I didn't feel guilt or any resentment about not having the time, I just accepted that for then, it was the right thing to do.  I think some of us get tied up in knots when we can't do what we think we should do. We all have to recognised our own limitations and if stopping one or two tasks makes the rest of the housework easier, then that is what should happen, without the guilt.

But now it's all there for me again, whatever I choose to do, I can do. I feel grateful for that and I know such freedom is a rare thing nowadays. It's certainly something to work towards though, no matter what stage of life you're at. If, like me, you have a period when you can't do all you want to do, it's wise to think of those days as a season that is part of your personal evolution. It won't last forever and there will come a time when your life will have different priorities and will change again. You might feel regret for not being able to do what you want, but don't feel guilt. Every day the good and the bad are part of your life, and guilt stops you seeing that usually there is more good than bad.