Dreams of a rural idyll

Everyone probably has their own idea of an idyllic rural lifestyle . . . what’s yours?

As the long and slow process of my recovery continues apace, I find myself thinking intermittently of just what sort of rural idyll I’d imagined we’d find ourselves in, at this point in our lives.

You don’t usually plan ill health into the equation of growing older gracefully, but there is an awkward sense of inevitability to our vulnerabilities on that front. So we kind of make peace with those vicissitudes and carry on living. Sometimes the concept of the rural idyll gets lost in the need to survive, basically, and we’re thrown back on the preparations already in hand in terms of any luxury.

So the hot tub, purchased a few years ago now, and languishing so far this year, is a component of our own dreams for a contented, relaxed lifestyle, and with continued healing, we might just make a splash of it before the summer is over. And the garden is demanding only minimal attention these days; though some parts are overgrown with weeds, that’s just too bad, but the polytunnel plants and the outside vegetable patches (potatoes and oca, really!) are looking particularly well. It’s fun to sit and watch the birds too, and I’ve decided to make a useful purchase for observations, being a pair of giant binoculars. They’re so big that I’ll have to mount them on a sturdy tripod to enjoy relaxed bird-watching in the daytime from my bespoke exercise station, and star-gazing at night, under these clear skies we keep hearing about, through the new French windows giving out onto our tiny balcony. New circumstances dictate new responses, after all, and who knew, when earlier plans were made, and renovations completed, that a different approach could bring such unanticipated joy?

Stimulated too by the photographs I keep seeing online of scenes around these parts, I thought I might make a project, if I can cobble all the right photographic gear together, of photographing the wild birds that visit our garden, making a photo-book to amuse the grandsons when they visit. “Look guys, this is a chaffinch, or look, isn’t that European goldfinch colourful! And what about those hesitant red-legged partridges, eh?” Later this afternoon, especially if the sun comes out and shines on the May blossom, I’ll jump on the garden tractor and mow for a little — the smell of fresh cut grass one of life’s special privileges. Carrie is busy making an overstuffed cushion so that I can carefully watch, during my designated recovery times, the plants grow in the polytunnel in between my dedicated stints of weeding. Carrie’s sewing gets interspersed in-between all her knitting, baking and breadmaking projects, of course together with various community committees as well, in the times that she’s not looking after me. I keep hoping her worry quotient will continue to reduce. Whatever we do, probably we’ll spend rather more time enjoying the moment, specifically, than we used to do. But that doesn’t mean we can’t also enjoy planning, full of hope, for a little holiday away later in the autumn as well.

Our dreams of this rural idyll, then, are possibly a bit truncated, as we adjust to the life that’s possible to live, that’s within our means (both physical and financial), and that brings satisfaction and delight. The truth is, I don’t think we ever dreamed very hard of the sort of rural idyll we wanted to inhabit; rather, we’ve accommodated/are accommodating, as we’ve learned to do throughout the past thirty years, to the rural idyll that’s achievable, that’s just there, just reachable if we stretch and try.

Sometimes, maybe, acceptance of the things that are feasible, while letting go of the things that aren’t, is the only way to maintain a happy perspective. And in that way, I guess, the rural idyll is whatever we make of it at the right time.

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