Home making

14 April 2017
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When we moved into this house back in 1997, along with the furniture, we brought old habits and ways of working from our old home. It didn't take long for me to notice that they didn't work in this new location.  I thought then that a home was made simply by living in it. After we'd been here for a while and I had dramatically changed my work life, I felt a strong urge to change my home life too. When I set out to do that, I had no idea how powerful and life changing the next few years would be. I soon discovered that by being observant and making small but important alterations, I could change a very ordinary house into the home I'd been yearning for all my life. Doing that work changed me too.

The easy part of moving house and creating a new home is bringing in furniture, painting walls, sewing curtains and filling cupboards. But if you do all that without giving much thought to the purpose of what you're doing, it doesn't mean much and it ends up feeling a bit like a staged production. You don't really know what's wrong but you know something is. By allowing things to settle in place and then modifying it slowly to better suit you and your changing circumstances, you'll create a home that supports what you do.  And it feels right.

When I look back on two decades in this house I know that fluffing our nests goes on for a very long time. It's not a single act that we concentrate on when we move in, in fact it can't be done then. We need to live in our homes, live the seasons, know the lay of the land, observe, learn, see the possibilities, seek out opportunities and then form a plan. That plan can start right away but the work to carry it out will last a lifetime. If you can create a home that supports you and becomes a warm and comfortable place, it will be your safe haven and protect you from the harsh realities of modern life.

I'm still modifying and tweaking my home. It changes every few years but not in big leaps and bounds. It's more a series of small adjustments that happen slowly as the months go by and we tick off the years. The changes come about now because we are ageing and our family is growing. Grandchildren change things a lot - both when they're babies but also as they grow. One of the most noticeable changes here has been our garden. Once it was a lush fertile garden full of all the fruits and vegetables we could pack in. It's still going but now we're more selective and there's an equal emphasis on fruit, vegetables and herbs. Many of our herbs died off at the end of summer so I've been reminded of the good sense of growing fresh herbs. Nothing that comes from the supermarket comes close to the taste of home grown. It's a pleasant and familiar part of my day now to go outside and pick the herbs I want to use when I cook our lunch - our main meal of the day. That's a good example of how herbs (and fruit and vegetables) aren't only about the taste, it's more than that. Growing some of our food is part of what we do which helps us live a slower but still active life.

Our new season garden is going in now. Hanno has added compost, blood and bone and manure and he's weeding out the ever present nut grass as he goes.  It's not a one-day job as it once was, but that's okay because we have more time to ponder, plan and work in the garden now.

We've lived here for nearly 20 years and I'm still carrying pots to different places, moving chairs and changing what goes in our cupboards, because we are different people to those who moved in here all those years ago. We need a home to wrap warmly around our elderly shoulders now, not one that suited a middle-aged family with teenagers. And the beauty of the changes already made, and the ones yet to be planned, is that they give us meaningful work that can be done in the time we have each day.

Our home is a constant work in progress. It changes with the seasons and it comforts us as we grow older.  None of this costs much money. We are using what's already here and simply repurposing things as they outgrow one life and slip into a new role. It's all part of a thoughtful lifelong process that helps us live well by using work and what we already have to create and recreate a supportive and peaceful home.  I wonder if you look on your home in the same way.

Happy Easter everyone.  I hope you take time to relax and look for chocolate eggs.