|The woodland and the 'Happy Crapper'
On the train again. Riding by green pasture, dark woodlands as yet bare of leaves. Snow on the black lobes of the mountains. Low gray clouds sweeping brooms of rain. Spring heralded by the eruption of yellow: daffodils, cover crop over a flat field, thick flowers of gorse in the hedgerows. Sheep and their lambs stumble slide and run from the carriages clattering passage. A hundred geese take flight from a bare field, white-banded tails.
We have spent the week at a small croft, working in the rain and cold, sunshine, mixed thick clouds. The small humid poly-tunnel full of plant starts, and salad greens, beets, cilantro. Outside, the cool spring, wintered-over kale, garden beds prepared and waiting in the ground. I built a gate for a net-covered berry patch, and a raised bed out of junk lumber which we filled with manure.
A lot of our time we spent shoveling shit in the rain. A large pile of manure (well composted) was delivered by a farmer neighbor. We loaded it into wheelbarrows and dispensed it to various vegetable beds and compost piles around the woodland plot. Mostly light spring rain, sometimes a little heavier; we wore our raincoats, and worked up a heat in our muscles.
We shoveled shit in the rain and ate wild plants off the woodland floor. Ground elder and wild garlic leaves, miner’s lettuce. These things in the urban mind are the height of poverty. From that perspective, they sound awful on their face. But in our days there was only contentment – gratification of accomplishing work, that goes to food from this place; contact with the place, the mind of the weather, the sight of the far water, the lambs asleep in pasture, the bursting yellow flowers, the smells of the fecund ground and the woodland under rain, feel of the soil in the hand. Our hobbit-like breaks for tea and snacks beside the wood stove, in a kitchen redolent with baking bread, getting warm. Time for good conversation with our hosts who make their life here, inside an old stone house, that has held how many years of words. In this kind of life, for us, there are hardly any costs, almost pure benefit. Living this way, even for a week, provides the evidence, our feeling of being at home, and the excitement we feel contemplating a similar relationship to our own place, wherever we may find it.