April has been an intense month for the 2 folk, the dog and the tractor. Thankfully none of it to do with the Covid-19 pandemic. So I guess it is all very relative. If it was not for this pic of a batch of Easter buns I’d have forgotten it happened.
It has been a struggle to find the peace of mind to sit and write about our adventures this month. Initial drafts sounded like a litany of unexpected events out of our control. The 2 folk, the dog and the tractor have been at full throttle. It got me thinking about how our lives operate at a certain frequency, like a steady heartbeat, and then out of no-where (or quite deliberately), we experience times of extreme oscillations that seem to tip us into the realms of a racing heart and breathlessness. The Stoics suggested our stress at such times is due to our refusal to imagine the worst and prepare ourselves mentally with strategies of acceptance (note they are not advocating risk mitigation strategies). I concede we prefer to spend our down time saying “cheers!” rather than “if the bank forecloses who needs a finished house”. So daily operations continue to be conducted at a steady jog, whilst juggling raw eggs blind. And then there was April. And suddenly we have run a marathon at a sprint. Yet the Stoics walked everywhere, calmly.
Nothing happened on the house. The lack of development is a hard reality to accept, especially given how knackered we feel at the moment. But the house represents only one aspect of this new life we are creating. April is the start of the garlic planting season. This year the fledgling garlic enterprise dominates our energies and attention. We persist with building wicking beds, understanding and correcting the soil, planting and planning a perpetual growing programme across multiple beds that represents a whole new stream to the business. Not so long ago we only planned for a single harvest of garlic bulbs to cure, now we plan to grow multiple garlic products across year round harvesting. Seriously, when did we cross the marathon starting line…what happened to feeling calm? What was that about acceptance…?
We continue to learn what our priorities are in these uncharted times. Our priorities have shifted seismically since we started building our house. This year has really brought home our order is humans, animals, plants then house and material possessions. And yet it was the dream of an owner build that started us on this rural adventure. It would seem when you start out on an adventure you have to accept you can only see a few steps in front of you, otherwise it would not be an adventure. Otherwise you swap panic for calm.
Our beloved Ginger dog is fast asleep in front of the TV on her pile of mats (a girl needs choice) as we start to prepare for bed. Suddenly she bolts upright, retches to no effect, and then starts snapping furiously, bringing uncontrollable waves of frothing foam from her mouth. Then the convulsions start, violent, whole of body rigors, tense and all-consuming. Utterly out of our depth and shaking with shock at the sight unfolding before us, we grab her and work her body, rubbing and yelling at her to come back to us. The seizure is over in a matter of moments and Ginger comes round to find her two humans in her face. She is disoriented so we just keep talking and stroking her sweet face, desperately trying to restore calm. She comes good, but there is no solace in sleep for us then or now. We work through our limited options with the vets and the specialists. We are now sprinting on snatches of sleep because we are choosing to enjoy any moments we have with her. It is an odd sort of calm.
The sheep are calmly browsing the rosemary border outside the vegetable patch. They wear a feigned nonchalance yet undeniably hopeful look. I’m pulling the corn and some of the tomato plants to make way for the broadbeans and peas. We have plenty of perfectly shaped green tomatoes so I am inspired (my chosen response) to try making a Green Tomato Chutney. It works a treat. A silver lining for what can only be described as a properly crap season for us this year. The kale is thriving, but I suspect it just does that. Carrots, coriander, parsley, spinach, rocket, brussel sprouts, red cabbage, cauliflower, beetroot and broccolini are strong and healthy. There was even a handful of late season strawberries. Jobs to do include planting of said peas and broadbeans and regular liquid foliar feeds and organic approved pest sprays on the brassicas.
We may be powerless to alter certain events, but we remain free to choose our attitude towards them.
excerpt from “Calm” https://www.theschooloflife.com/thebookoflife/calm/