the summer of our content…

“There’s something desirable about anything you’re used to as opposed to something you’re not.”
~ John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent

A couple of days ago I finished reading Claire Dunn’s My Year Without Matches… an articulately penned memoir about how she “quits a comfortable life to spend a year off the grid in a wilderness survival program” underpinned by her exhausting feelings of not ever being enough. Don’t get me wrong, far from being unsympathetic, my heart went out to her. I spent much of my younger life dogged by similar beliefs. I was cheering her on, willing her to accept the knowledge of her self-worth before I turned the last page, and afterwards Googling, curious to find other than transforming her journals, evidence of how she fares in the longer-term.

I don’t know if it’s age, wisdom or menopause but thankfully for me the angst has let up… I still have my fofs [fear of failure] to explore… in the new year I’m tackling a couple of domestic craft challenges: knitting kitchen cloths… [have I ever told you my Dad once made me knit a jumper as punishment for a now forgotten teenage transgression…] and making beeswax wraps. I was the maladroit kid in school who got great marks in English, geography, so-so in maths but my craft efforts typically were wonky, and Dad did my sewing homework. Also because of lingering fof although my sourdough bread, pastry, pasta efforts have improved they remain a work-in-progress that will be continued in 2021.

I digress…

Courtesy of this liminal time festive period, the following afternoon, dozing only a few pages into my latest summer holiday read Helena Atlee’s The Land Where Lemons Grow, while gentle rain pattered the roof, I contemplated mental meanderings that the last thing I want to do is spend a year in the wilderness, any-where-any-how… unless it has all the comforts of home, preferably my home.

Last week we had a 3-day 2-night trip away and while it felt wonderful to see a change of scenery, spend time with faraway family, explore our neighbouring Barrington Coast region and stay at the truly wonderful [notwithstanding our grizzles below] Little Monkerai Airbnb… opening the front gate upon our return was among highlights of the trip.

Despite packing the necessary comforts… pillows, coffee and pot, wine, cheese, snacks, homemade sourdough bread, pesto and marmalade, homegrown eggs and tomatoes, our superficial grumbles were pitiful: primarily, not enough comfy chairs nor in the right places; when it rained [all of day 2] the front verandah shade-cloth roof provided no shelter so we resorted to the narrow covered concrete path entry area that joined the two separate bedrooms and communal living area, and its solitary bench seat; the alternative being to duck through the rain into a rocky underfoot pavilion serviced by a polished concrete bench afforded only four seat pads which did dual service for all the other hard bench seating; no dish drying rack in the kitchen only tea towels; absent items of cooking equipment to be requested from the main house; polished concrete floors felt chill and gritty underfoot [thus killing my dream of such should we ever build a new house]; overhead lighting in the communal area that made me want to shuffle furniture [my family have been known to unabashedly rearrange cafes, restaurants, pubs and holiday houses to suit our group needs] and move the surplus twin lamp from our room; a partially enclosed shower area swamping the floor despite best efforts to follow instructions to aim the shower nozzle at the wall; our room’s twin beds were ok for me but the G.O. found overly firm and narrow; and most inconvenient, the accommodation’s aesthetically pleasing straw bale construction impractically blocked any external telco signal so calls, texts, social media, music streaming etc, had to happen outdoors… all very well in fine weather but tiresome over the drizzly course of our stay.

All the above, however, would have been magically moot except our gathering was fractured by Sydney’s pre-Christmas Covid outbreak and we enjoyed only a shortened interlude of conviviality before interstate family members had to depart to cross the border… leaving the G.O., me and Deez alone in the empty shell of our festive season get-together for the remaining dim, cool, rainy, silent day and night before we departed early the following morning.

“It’s so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.”
~ John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent

Other 2021 goals involve planting roses in the garden [suggesting that old dogmas can change… previously I wasn’t much for roses] and expanding its range of edible, useful & beautiful plants from Greenpatch nursery, and a couple of online courses to get me writing: Daily OmA Year of Writing to Uncover the Authentic Self and Australian Writers’ CentreFreelance Writing Stage 1 & possibly Creative Non-fiction.

Clearly my spirit animal isn’t a wild, hunting beast living on its wits… rather a domesticated creature who prefers to sun itself in a comfy verandah chair or garden spot, anticipating later a nice dinner served up on a plate.

The upside is I don’t need to go looking to find myself. I’m right where I want to be, happy with who and what I am [after making friends with the adage “wherever you go there you are”]. I’ve realised having just clocked up 55 years of life lessons and experience, dressing to please myself, sensibly shod, au naturel tabby hair, without much adornment or heady aspirations but confident and supported by likeminded comrades in my values, beliefs and opinions… I’m as comfortable in my own skin as I’ve been ever been. 

“It must be that there are years unlike other years, as different in climate and direction and mood as one day can be from another day.” ~ John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent

2020 I bid thee adieu.


16 thoughts on “the summer of our content…

  1. Time was, I thought I had all the years ahead to ‘fix’ what I thought was wrong with me. Turns out, knocking on the door of 60 years, there wasn’t anything wrong with me after all, and I like who I am, how I live and how I look. We both hope you and the GO and Mr Deez will travel again when the bug is under control, as we still hope to see you up here. While we wait, though, I hope you keep writing as I love what you have to say and how you say it. Meanwhile, I leave you with words I wrote about 10 years ago:

    Individuals are all
    The sum of their experiences.
    Why would I surrender mine
    For a face like an unwritten page?

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    1. Thank you ♡ Never fear, we’ll travel again, even without but preferably with a caravan kitted out with home comforts as we did before… and Queensland is one of our top and closer destinations.
      Wise words indeed. After I’d finished Claire’s memoir I read a quote, something along the lines of that it’s difficult to feel like we’re enough when the commercial world has a vested interest in making us feel like we’re not so they can sell us the solution… a never-ending, soul-destroying endeavour for the unwary, unconfident, unenlightened… but profitable.

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      1. Rather like the attempt to make us feel like failures if we don’t “Make this the best Christmas ever”… How did we get onto this ever-escalating treadmill? To be honest, I’m rather enjoying my newly-found cronedom!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. How odd. I would have thought that you and crafts were a match made in heaven. I suspect you’re a perfectionist though. 😀

    This really spoke to me: ‘I don’t need to go looking to find myself. I’m right where I want to be, happy with who and what I am’. I’ll be 68 soon and I’ve never been happier, even with Covid and the misery of this last year. There are still things on my bucket list – like seeing Japan with my own eyes – but they’re ‘nice to haves’, not necessities.

    Fingers crossed for 2021. Stay safe and well. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Au contraire, mon ami… it’s my lack of perfectionism that makes me, what in the writer world you would describe as a panster, in almost every aspect of my life!
      We must hang on to our ‘nice to haves’ otherwise all hope is, literally, lost.
      Take care. Wishing you the wonderfullest 2021.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. -giggles- I’m a pantster, but I’m also a perfectionist. Duality, thy name is human. 😀
        Sadly my Japanese nice-to-have is most unlikely to ever come true, but life is full of strange twists and turns so not giving up on it yet. Happy 2021!

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  3. Where to start. I can’t imagine better quotations for this blog post or for this year, exceedingly well chosen. I love everyone of the comments above. All of us, so human. I can totally relate to your experience of having a nice place to stay but that it is not like home. And isn’t that part of the experience? To view our life from a different perspective for a while so that we newly appreciate it?! I’m always so glad to come home, no matter how wonderful the time and places away have been. And lastly, I’m newly convinced I’m not broken, or in need of fixing, but I just have trouble remembering it. This has not been a terrible year for us, trying, and angst ridden for others, but we have been fine. I hasten to add, we do not taken anything for granted and are grateful for every good thing, as well as the bad things that could have been so much worse…just received news that the grand-dog has made it through surgery and should live to rip up another toy, another day. All the blessings are welcome, including your lovely blog. Best for 21, Dale. xx

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    1. Thank you… as I was finding the right quotes I was thinking that I need to add Steinbeck’s The Winter of our Discontent to my reading list.
      It was particularly interesting to stay at Little Monkerai because many of its elements were, I thought, something I might incorporate in the event we ever did a new build house project. Now I know they aren’t me at all.
      I’m pleased your grand-dog is still among your blessings. And, it’s your memory that is wabi sabi… a wonderful term I learned from you… and that you know you are enough.
      I’m certain in addition to the resilience we have [or don’t have] in place, our expectations play a role in our sense of wellbeing… in pre-Covid life but both of which Covid has held up for our closer examination as it plays out, as well as how we perceive what may develop as our new or post Covid normal evolves. Whatever it is, I hope it holds fine for you.

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  4. I’m in a quandary on a number of things, especially as everyone seems to be planning “their lot” for 2021…life got twisted around 2 months ago – and I’m still battling through basically new health issues (“unravelling” specialist coming up soon) … I had started working on 2021 around 5 months ago and I was feeling quite confident but now none of it seems like I truly need it…AND no I wasn’t planing to “go wild”…

    But your time looks like we are in for some fun posts and you deconstruct and reconstruct your home and maybe even your creative writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sorry to hear you are battling health issues… similarly in this household other non-Covid related health issues have been business as usual, and will be addressed in 2021. The garden is and hopefully always will be a work-in-progress. Finished is boring. We’ll see how the writing goes, and if any of it is blog-worthy. Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. There is so much to love about this latest post of yours. I think it’s our age that reveals to us, with eyes more open than they have ever been, that we are better off shedding those expectations or thoughts about how we thought we should be and what a successful life looks like. I feel as if we can’t possibly know ourselves until we experience the yin and yang of life. This post made me chuckle at my own path – I disliked growing up on a farm. It was hard work, and it didn’t lend to the fabulous (I thought) life in town that many of my friends had. I took the city path when I moved out on my own. I thought I was moving up and I was really someone with my fine “things”. I was the most miserable person for three decades! Moving to the country, quitting work in town and making a life here on our place, is where I flourish. My life is very simple, and rewarding. It’s wonderful to visit places and experience life elsewhere.. for a little while. I’m always happy to come home though. The life of being a good steward of the land and caring for animals, raising food and eating clean, living practically and simply – it’s what I love and where I’m happy. I loved, “opening the front gate upon our return was among highlights of the trip”. That’s exactly how I feel – even after a trip to town to get a few groceries!

    I enjoy reading your blog. Your writing is beautiful and real.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your words sing joy to my heart… it understands the journey and happiness you describe. Through all life’s twists and turns I somehow knew I would find my way out of the city to an old house and place that resembled my younger years. Thank you for your kind words, reading about your life reciprocally gives me a satisfying sense of comforting connection with a kindred network: where we live matters less than how we live our shared understanding of what is really important.

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