October has been good to us and I am pleased with life right now. We had some chilly weather and the stove has been on all month but the last week or so has been glorious autumn sunshine. We spent time in the field, worked on the house a bit and even tended the veggie patch too.
Dave has been busying away on the mezzanine whenever there has been time. We bought some plywood and he cut it into slats and sanded each one all over to make a nice base for our bed. He has also put in the base for the cupboard / wardrobe. We’ve even been talking about wiring for lights, socks and switches in the bedroom too – a whole new world of progress for us!
We have been eating well out of the garden at the moment; autumn is always a good time. The pumpkin harvest has started. And although my harvest of eating pumpkins isn’t as impressive as last year, I did try two new varieties that worked well – a gourd variety for making vessels out of the shells, and a seed variety that produces huskless edible seeds.
The physalis continue to keep Leona busy – and sticky! I’ve been collecting beans as they dry. The kale has started to take off in the cooler weather. I found a few rogue parsnips in spite of not sowing any this year (hurray for seed saving) and we ate them one evening roasted with oil and honey. And I planted some chard and rocket into some of the beds for autumn greens.
We spent more time scything the field with the blades that Dave refurbished from some rusty, bend old scythes that were hanging around. We piled up the cut grass for mulch and I put mulch rings around all of the plants that are already in the field, and marked their positions with sticks if they weren’t already done.
We’ve been thinking about where to sow seeds for trees, bushes and cover crops, where to put cuttings of berry bushes and where to leave space for bought plants. I’ve been collecting seeds of plants I’d like to have more of, including echinacea and marshmallow. And we moved three little peach trees into our field that sprouted up nearby.
In the places where we have decided what we want to plant, we have mulched and marked in order to have weed-free soil to plant in when spring comes.
The current surge in covid cases is giving us some stress and we’re taking extra precautions to distance from everyone. It’s so sad – normal life was creeping closer and now it seems so far away. We are making the best of our situation though and of course we are thankful to be living out here away from everything. Leona is toddling about adorably investigating everything. We are loving spending time with her and can’t wait to share her with our family and friends too.
We did some Halloween pumpkin carving with the neighbours, which was a nice bit of socially distanced normality at the end of the month.
It’s been such a relief to feel well and have the time to get more than the bare minimum done. Dave has been applying for work. We need the money so it will be a relief when he finds something, but we’re both really enjoying the freedom we have right now. I have been working on some writing – I finally wrote my article on hunter gatherers that has been simmering in the background for months.
We have been thinking a lot about community during the pandemic and have been inspired by loads of lovely people online. Signe, Noe and I have finally had a bit more time to work on the founding document for our Association that we want to set up. We’re all really excited about it! Obviously we can’t meet up any time soon but hopefully we will be able to have it ready to go so that we can start the real work and play of meeting up when we can.
Learn & Grow
Since our communication revelation last month, we have continued to work on having productive discussions. We often fall back into our old patterns and it is so difficult to get out of sometimes, even if you’re aware that you’re doing it! But we persevere and are reaping the benefits. We can actually work together now, which is beautiful. I can allow Dave to teach me things. We can discuss our projects productively. We can make decisions a lot more easily. I feel a lot less resentment and anger and I feel less needy, more secure, more capable, confident and independent.
As a compliment to NVC I have also been reading about mindfulness. Although I have been vaguely interested in meditation for a long time, I had never been bold enough to try it, being too afraid of what I would find in the recesses of my mind. But the passing of years and experiences have made me feel more centred anyway and I thought the time had come to dip a toe in the alarmingly still water.
I downloaded the Headspace book and it turns out that meditation isn’t really what I thought it was. It seems a lot less intimidating now. Top tip: You don’t have to try to force your mind to be quiet! Just notice that it isn’t.
The author Andy talks about adapting mindfulness to daily life. You don’t have to sit on a little round cushion all day to be mindful, you can do it whilst you’re brushing your teeth, or driving. You should definitely do it whilst you’re driving! Because all it means is focusing totally on whatever it is that you are doing.
I kept being reminded of something that my Dad said years ago, which really annoyed me at the time. He was quoting John Lennon when he said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” I think the reason it annoyed me was because I was determined to live out my plans rather than sit around making them whilst other things happened to me. “No,” I thought, “I am in control of my life.” Ha!
Aside from the obvious fact that we don’t control all of our circumstances, my main take-away is that life isn’t just the big stuff. Life shouldn’t be spent rushing through 90% of your day to get to the 10% you really wanted to do. Life is having breakfast with your kids. Life is doing the washing up. Life is commuting. If you rush through these moments waiting to get to the next thing, then life is happening to you whilst you’re busy making other plans!
Like so many others, I am a life-long mind-wanderer, worrier, over-thinker and day-dreamer. Of course those aren’t bad qualities and they have got me where I am today, but it is nice sometimes to just notice that your mind is frantic and take a moment to just sit, and be.
We have had a lovely few days of fantastic sunny weather and I have been mindful to take the time to soak it in, to be in the moment, to slow down. To give Leona my full attention more often. To spend a few minutes here and there just sitting. To forget for a moment the little voice that is always asking what’s next. To put down my phone. To take a deep breath and enjoy this moment right now. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that those moments have made my day.