I see them as we drive west – a few dotted along the roadside to start with, tall, delicate, sunshine yellow. Soon the buildings disappear and my view out is no longer obstructed. I can actually see a horizon – that point the canopy of the sky gets spilt from the green of the earth. The clouds are white, fluffy, like fairy floss, and the sky they hang from actually feels like a roof. I look out the window and I can finally see far ahead, yellow wildflower fields meeting rolling mountains meeting wide blue sky. Nothing but space, and my body feels like it opens up and expands to fill it. When it does — like it always does at the first sight of open country — I immediately wonder if I belong in a different life.
Farmhouse floorboards, so weathered the polish has worn off, creaking underfoot like a thousand stories being told. Long dirt roads dotted with flowers, kids riding their bikes barefoot. Pots of tea bubbling on an old brick stove, fish pie baking in the oven, wildflowers plopped in a vase on the kitchen table. Fires at night, the smell of smoke clinging to children’s hair as we kiss the tops of their heads before bed. Chutneys and relishes filling our pantry shelves, kale and parsley plucked from our garden. A different pace, a peaceful view, a quieter rhythm, a more wholesome life — away from traffic and shops, buildings and blocked horizons: the never-ending chase of all the wrong things.
And then begins the all too common descent from what I’m grateful for in my life to wishing I had a different one altogether. Oh but all the things we’d do. All the things we’d feel. All the ways we’d be fulfilled. All the things that would be different, better.
Maybe it is a calling. Maybe the country is where my heart will always reside. Maybe I’ll always wake up a little whenever I see horizons and rusty sheds and farmhouses. On the other hand, maybe it’s a romantic affair, taken at a superficial level. Maybe all the baked pies and wooden floorboards take precedence for awhile, but like all long-term love affairs, start to expose flaws soon enough. The isolation, the distance from friends and family, the lack of opportunities to grow businesses.
Always, there a million different paths to take: live here, live there, have children, don’t have children, have this job, have that job, marry, don’t marry, marry this person, marry that person, study this, study that.
When we have the ability to chase any life we want, the options overwhelm, the ‘what if’ question burns our souls.
But would we be happier? Would we ‘belong’ in our lives if we chose B instead of A? Would we stop imagining ourselves in a different life and stand firmly in the one we have?
But probably not.
Because contentment is an inside job, grounded in concepts like gratefulness, creativity, awareness, positivity, inspiration. It comes from in, in, in not out, out, out. And that mother baking pie in her farmhouse kitchen still feels bored sometimes, uninspired, lonely, ordinary, wondering if there was, perhaps, a different, better.
That’s life. That’s what it is to be human.
And so we analyse our dreams and we find enough clarity and courage to chase them, but we grow wise enough to go inside, right where we are, where gratefulness and awareness and inspiration reside right now.
I have a dream farmhouse checklist and it’s been tucked away inside for as long as I can remember. I’d still love to try out that life and maybe we will, maybe we won’t. The most important thing is erasing the different, better line of thinking. Different, yes, but the ‘better’ is what I bring to it. The ‘better’ – in a long-term sense – comes only from inside – once the view and the space and the change wears off. The ‘better’ is me.
Some highlights from our weekend trip to Stanthorpe to celebrate my brother’s birthday.
Coreopsis fields! Everywhere! I made everyone stop every twenty minutes and forced them to be in pictures!
Girraween National Park – easy, child-friendly walks, gorgeous rock pools to swim in.
Favourite walk — The Pyramids. Steep scramble at the end but the view and the feeling of being so high on the rock face is worth it.
Wineries, olives, jams, relishes, cheeses. I’ll take them all, thanks.
Favourites: Jamworks (zucchini relish — to die for), The Bramble Patch (ice cream and chutneys – the best), Summit Estate Winery (shiraz/pinot blend…and the port! Christmas in a glass! We got a bottle for Christmas eve), Ballandean Estate Italian yum cha — rich food but such treat.
And, as always, family time.
I’ve added that old brick stove to my dream farmhouse and tucked it away inside. But these children, this little family, they are – they will always be – my home.
“It was November–the month of crimson sunsets, parting birds, deep, sad hymns of the sea, passionate wind-songs in the pines. Anne roamed through the pineland alleys in the park and, as she said, let that great sweeping wind blow the fogs out of her soul.”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables