“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.
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 Om: A Year of Writing to Uncover the Authentic Self and Australian Writers’ Centre: Freelance 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.