The Silly Ones

Dark skyline of trees, a fingernail moon above
After six months or so of diary reports that make the speed of progress indelibly clear- slow, edging around various constraints, meshed with life in general, savoured, scary, and delightful- I am whittling reportage to (mainly, anyway, one must be wary of making rash promises) a series of snapshots from our land journey. I want to focus on the specifics of bringing a dream to life- I want to bring you, Dear Reader, closer to the process. I want to share. So come with me, and Mr, and our wonky arthritic but otherwise healthy-happy Dog, and feel free to chortle as we set up camp in the stable on a June night. The day has been glorious, summery, hot. The stable is cool, dusty underfoot. There is still a roll of dung in each corner, dried like cement. There are mouseholes, ratholes, old spiderwebs thick as ropes. There is sunlight sneaking through the gaps, there is a calmness here, there is birdsong and a swoop of wind through leaves. We fix our camping mattresses on top of the sofa bed, cover it with a blanket, a sheet, put a duvet on top. Dog has her foam square with two old pillows and a retired curtain, at the foot of our bed. We close the doors up to keep damp air to a minimum, wander down to the big fire pit, which we light, which then displaces a small family of mice. Oops- we resolve not to make a fire up in advance again. The mice relocate under a pile of sticks, we hear them scuttle, we assume they are cross with us. Dog has a bone to chew, she pays the mice no attention at all. It's light enough to watch the bats swirl and dip. The fire curls, the wood burns to cinders that pulse with hot colours, that fade to pale ash. We lean back in our chairs, watch the sky reveal stars and a fingernail moon. Sleep calls. We are idiots who forgot how cold the stable gets at night. Dog snuggles down in her fur. She pays no attention to the elder tree knocking on the roof, or our shivers. Maybe next time we will remember to bring our thermal wear.

In the morning with the doors open, I stay snuggled in the bed, watching spider lines and insect wings catch the sun and dance in the branches of the ash tree opposite. Mr makes coffee. Day heat rises. We cling to our mugs, wry and weary and loving the adventure. Bit by bit we dress, we organise, we set to jobs. Scything and mulching for me, scrub cutting for Mr. My work is the maintenance of things planted, clearing growing room for them with a hand scythe, pulling up handfuls of nettles till my arms buzz with stings (I like this sensation, it's lively), adding nettle tea to feed their growth, and mulching with woodchips to lessen the competition. Mr cuts back bracken, bramble, and nettles in the overhang of the middle hedge, partly in readiness for mowing, partly to clear space for the track that we hope will happen soon. Dog ambles between us, then lies in the shade. After a few hot hours, we stop for breakfast: pan-fried sausages, eggs, and beans, a classic dish, all cooked on the stove in the van. We sit with plates on laps, glad of food, glad of the landscape. The field grasses shimmer, pink-topped with seed, there are butterflies darting, buttercups wobbling their glossy yellow heads. The hedges are heavy with leaf and blossom, the sky showcases hues of blue. Progress is slow, mistakes are part of it, the grand ones, the silly ones, but the view- the field of vision, the composition- is always greater than the sum of the parts.
Close up of pink tipped grass, background of rolling fields


It looks/sounds WONDERFUL. Thank you for taking us along.
Lisa Southard said…
Thank you! I'm glad you came along :-)
Steve Cromwell said…
This read like Little House on the Prairie. Okay, I never read those books, but I watched the show, and they lived close to the land like this. And made their own way through grit and faith and knowing about plants and stuff. I bet the field there loves to have someone so attentive to it.
Lisa Southard said…
Rethinking my work wear to include more petticoats. I feel like the land approves of us, and always talk it though changes, as well as chatting to the plants :-)

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