October’s pickings centre around persevering. Continuing well, or at least the best that you can. This isn’t to invite concern – life’s rhythms are more extreme than we would choose, but we are learning to keep our heads up while our feet keep walking on. We are fortunate; we know it is not forever.
Sometimes I slightly envy those walking a clear career path. The ladder rungs laid out before their eyes; they just need to climb. This is not to deny the effort in the ascent. Exams to pass, interviews to nail, promotions to seek. I’m not looking for an easy life; the thing I envy is the clarity of the path and the destination ahead.
I began and ended July distracted by life’s unexpected twists and turns (more details in a future post). This seems to have left little mental space to explore a coherent theme; instead I’ve been a magpie, collecting varied ideas this month.
If you’re seeking countryside, the quiet, the expanse, it’s a good start when your destination’s arrival instructions tell you “the road is marked unpassable for cars, but it’s fine if you go slowly” (and it was). This was the beginning of our week staying in a barn in ‘the last valley in Devon’.
June has been a strange month. Starting with hints of gloriously warm summer days to come, it ended with thunder storms and a return to the wooly jumper. We’ve been exploring landscapes. Walking Devon cliff tops on foot; cycling up the Isle of Wight’s hills to attain a viewpoint of ‘the Needles’ stunning rocky outcrops. Once there, I mostly took photos of nearby rusting metal. Perhaps there’s no accounting for taste.
When I saw on Twitter that Kew Gardens (a Royal Botanical Gardens and botanical research institute, for non-UK readers) were giving away free packets of wild flower seeds, my first thought (after ‘FREE STUFF!’ – love a bargain) was, ‘I know people who will get on board with this’. The couple of months between ordering the seeds and receiving them had, to be honest, rather put the initiative out of my mind. I’d also failed to tell my husband, so he was welcomed home one day with: “I forgot to to tell you I ordered 100 packets of seeds! Where shall we plant them?” Plant some we did, the rest we distributed to eager hands – friends and colleagues glad to be easily enabled to be part of the ‘Grow Wild’ initiative.
May was, perhaps, about investment. We began it in Northern Ireland, investing in our relationships with family and old friends. We ended it on a beach on England’s South Coast, flying kites and investing in our own wellbeing as the world fell away, leaving only colourful kites dancing on the wind as the evening’s light faded.
Last year we moved house, gaining stewardship of a garden for the first time. Our bodies and minds were nourished by the time spent there, digging in the dirt, relaxing in the open air, as well as the seven strawberries and handful of basil we managed to grow. One of our aspirations for 2016 was to grow more of our own food – a move towards greater self-sufficiency as well as reconnecting us with nature and where our food comes from.
One of my 2016 aspirations was to look at the chemicals in our home. The European Environment Agency recommends prudence when it comes to the chemicals to which we expose ourselves and the environment. The blame cannot be laid on a single chemical; it’s the range of them and how they interact with each other that’s the real problem. The thing that challenged me is: I know very little about the cocktail of chemicals I purchase, apply, spray. It’s time to change that.